For high school seniors, the last days are torn away

From coast to coast, the Class of 2020 leaves high school with regrets and memories


Melisa Demaku / Everett High

The victorious Purple team celebrates its 2019 powderpuff victory at Everett (Mass.) High

Amera Lila, Everett High

When the abrupt news of all public schools closing broke, high school seniors nationwide found themselves at a loss. For some, the last few months of high school is the highlight of the four years. These final moments consist of senior week, prom, and graduation, all activities that students have worked tirelessly for, and due to the unfortunate circumstance of COVID-19, over a decade of school work has led up to nothing.

Regardless of location, the state of dejection resonates equally with students everywhere.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of high school is the extracurricular activities, sports, and clubs which are often the reason that students are motivated to excel in the classroom. There is an endless list of activities that got cut short, but for students like Chloe Hanrahan and Trent DeBonis, both of Andover (Mass.) High School, missing out on their home show choir competition was a major loss.

“I wish I had my last New England Show Choir Showdown because there are so many traditions that go along with it for the seniors,” Hanrahan said. “We were going to start a new one this year but we didn’t get to.” 

“Definitely my last New England Show Choir Showdown,” DeBonis explained. “We do this thing in the NESCS warmup room every year where we make two circles, a big outer circle of underclassmen facing in toward a smaller inner circle of seniors, facing out to the underclassmen and the legacy they’re leaving behind. We all take hands, and sing our ballad, and there is not a dry set of eyes in the room when we’re done. 

“This year we had the perfect song for that, and I’ve been looking forward to my chance to be in the inner circle since freshman year. I didn’t get it.” 

Melisa Demaku of Everett (Mass.) High poured four years of consistent effort into becoming head mechanic and president of the STEM club, and just as she got the position, it was torn from her.

“This was supposed to be the year we brought home a trophy for the seniors’ last competition,” Demaku said. “Our last time together as a group was going to be in Florida, something I had been looking forward to since last year. Everything was starting to come full circle, our team was so good and I was so proud of everyone. All I wanted was this last trip, all together, with the people who have become a second family to me.” 

Melisa Demaku (second from left) was president of the STEM club at Everett (Mass.) High.(Melisa Demaku / Everett High)

Whether it be Zoom sessions with favorite teachers, or FaceTime calls with close friends, students found themselves doing anything to cope with losing their social lives swiftly and unexpectedly.

“I’m still trying to stay in the loop of my school work and talking to my teachers to try and mimic the feeling of being in school with them,” Emma White, a student at L’Anse Creuse High School-North in Macomb, Mich., said.

“I wouldn’t really say I’ve coped,” said Mak Flynn of Tantasqua Regional in Fiskdale, Mass. “This time has taken a huge toll on my mental health and I’ve lost almost all motivation to do anything, even keep up with my friendships and school work.” 

With classes being moved online, a lack of motivation has become more common as the virtual year progresses.

“I honestly have zero motivation towards school right now and just wish they could just graduate us after everything we’ve had to go through,” said Nick Attardo, a student at Huntington Beach (Calif.) High. “I don’t think it’s worth it anymore.” 

We never know when our time will end so all we can do now is learn from this, and truly not ever take another moment or opportunity for granted.

— MAK FLYNN, Tantasqua Regional

For others, it’s the only thing keeping them connected with society at the moment.

“The teachers are putting in the effort so we should as well,” Hanrahan said.  “Also, if I didn’t have school right now, I don’t know what I would be doing. It may not really feel like we’re doing anything important but it’s keeping us connected.” 

When missing a school-related event, there is always the assumption that there will be another one. Another football game, another dance, and another day to hang out with friends. Unfortunately for the class of 2020, this does not ring true, leaving seniors with regrets.

“I regret not going to a lot of the football games,” Attardo said. “I only went to half, but then my friends stopped going, so I did as well, but I really wish we all continued going together.”

Said Demaku, “I was so wrapped up in my education, taking four AP classes and working part time, I never really got to experience what it felt like to be a senior. I never skipped school to hang out with friends, I missed too many football games and parties because ‘There will always be more events.’ I thought I still had time to experience my senior year.

“If I could go back in time I would have spent more time acting like a typical senior.”

Perhaps the most terrifying realization about the situation is that the next time seniors will be sitting in a classroom, it will most likely be in a university.

“It doesn’t feel right. It feels inconclusive. My last day of high school is next Friday, it does not feel that way at all.” DeBonis said. “It feels like you’re about to finish a big, long and amazing book, and you get it ripped away from you right as you’re starting the last chapter.”

I’ve been looking forward to my chance to be in the inner circle since freshman year. I didn’t get it.

— TRENT DeBONIS, Andover High

Said Flynn, “I’m personally not going to college, so this is affecting me way less than those who have worked their butts off in high school to get to this point, but it does really suck knowing that I also can’t pursue my plans of travel/work until this virus goes away.

“It’s affecting us all differently, but I especially feel bad for the kids who have been looking forward to starting that new chapter in another school. It’ll hopefully be worth the wait though, and maybe even give some extra time to the kids who have been debating going to college/what they’re looking to study,” she said, finding positivity in the situation.

With the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 in the United States, it is extremely unlikely that senior event make-ups will happen any time soon. One solution would be to delay college for a few months so students can get the full high school experience.

Stephen Humphry, a student at Shepherd Hill Regional in Dudley, Mass., is completely opposed to the idea.

“Definitely not. At this point, I want to move on to college,” he said.

Similarly, Emma Bass from Old Lyme (Conn.) High said, “I’m super bummed all of this has happened, and I would give anything to be able to do my senior activities. However, I’m really excited for college so I wouldn’t want it to be delayed too much.” 

Demaku takes into account the fact that the first semester of college may be online.

“I would rather a college delay than having the start of college be virtual,” she said. “I am hoping that we can still hold normal senior activities like prom and graduation just so we can have one last gathering with the Class of 2020 and our teachers, get our yearbooks signed and say our goodbyes. Anything to give us closure.”

Melisa Demaku (right) was the 2019 Homecoming queen at Everett (Mass.) High.(Melisa Demaku / Everett High)

With everything ripped away in an instant, the situation is bittersweet as there were many enjoyable parts to senior year.

“I’m glad that I got to do all that I did while I was in high school. Although it’s all being cut short, I’ll still remember my experiences fondly,” Bass said.

Demaku took a moment to reminisce on her favorite parts of the year.

“Even though I did not get to have the perfect end to senior year it was still memorable. I was Homecoming queen and got to spend that week with all my friends voting on whose ‘Wacky Wednesday’ outfit was the wackiest,” she said. “I got to plan a trip to NYC and the 9/11 museum and memorial. My powderpuff team won the tournament after weeks of practice — Go Purple team! Those experiences will remain dear to me and I’m so grateful that my school made them possible.”

Flynn’s approach to this ill-fated story is by making it a lesson to never take time for granted.

“All I’d like to say is thank you to all of the people who have loved and supported me during my almost four years in high school,” she said. “From the lunch ladies, to the teachers I’ll forever hold a special bond with, even to my family and friends who had to constantly listen to my endless babbles, complaints, crying, and singing, thank you.

“We never know when our time will end so all we can do now is learn from this, and truly not ever take another moment or opportunity for granted.”

–May 18, 2020–