I Spoke To A Class Of 2020 Senior From Mark Keppel HS, And Graduating In Quarantine Had Its Ups And Downs
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I Spoke To A Class Of 2020 Senior From Mark Keppel HS, And Graduating In Quarantine Had Its Ups And Downs

Emily Cervantes is a recent class of 2020 graduate from Mark Keppel High School, and she provided some insight into how ending high school in quarantine was mostly beneficial for her, but had some challenges.

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I Spoke To A Class Of 2020 Senior From Mark Keppel HS, And Graduating In Quarantine Had Its Ups And Downs
Emily Cervantes

Emily Cervantes is an incoming freshman from East Los Angeles, LA who will be attending the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in the fall. She is going to be in the honors program as a freshman and is in DAP for business finance. Throughout high school she played volleyball and in her free time, she loves to watch football and basketball. I was thrilled when she was willing to be interviewed because she, like all other Class of 2020 graduates, had a unique experience spending her last semester of high school at home in quarantine. Here are the questions I had for her.


1. Where did you graduate from?

I graduated from Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, CA.

2. What has it been like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the coronavirus pandemic?

At first, quarantine seemed to be the biggest blessing I could have asked for. The majority of my classes did not require me to attend Zoom meetings, but rather just complete assignments. Quarantine not only helped me fix my sleep schedule, but it also allowed me to connect with my family on a more emotional level. Towards the end of the semester, I do admit that my grades began to slip because I started focusing on finishing my Criminal Minds and Big Time Rush marathons. Ultimately, spending my last semester during the coronavirus pandemic was not terrible, but I also would have rather spent it at school with my friends.

3. Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?

For me, a proper graduation or prom was not the hardest thing to accept because of quarantine. The hardest part was accepting that March 13th was the last time I could physically talk to my friends and teachers. Sure, random Zoom meetings here and there allowed me to see them, however I still did not accept the fact that I was not having face-to-face conversations with them. Once I went to pick up my diploma from school, it finally hit me that the likelihood of seeing my friends before I leave for college was slim to none. I think that up until this point I still have not accepted it, but deep down I know that once I depart from Los Angeles, I will have to accept the fact that I will not be able to see them on a daily basis.

4. What has been a silver lining?

Academically, I think the best part of quarantine was making my own schedule for school work and AP tests. I think that making my own schedule allowed me to give adequate time to each of my subjects and allowed me to understand material better as well. The AP tests were the best part of quarantine. College Board shortening the length of the test relieved a lot more stress than if I were to take it at school. Even though the test had multiple parts that took forever, it was still better than the AP test last year. Quarantine also allowed me to spend more time with myself and focus on improving my physical and mental attitudes. I had a lot of time to do self-care and learn or do new things I've always wanted to do. My favorite part of this time was definitely learning how to cook new foods! One of the final things I loved about quarantine was spending more quality time with my family. Although I am getting a little more tired of them, we have all learned so much about each other and we get along that much more.

5. What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?

To be honest, I have not really done anything extra to replace some graduation traditions. I definitely took my graduation photos with my family and a few of my friends, because it is one of the only consistent things I was able to do. Although I was not able to have any graduation parties, I did have multiple dinners with my family to celebrate my high school and community college achievements.

6. What are your next steps, and have they been impacted by coronavirus?

Once I graduated high school, my next step for the summer was to take two classes at East Los Angeles College to cross off more of my general education requirements. When I originally signed up for these classes, I expected to physically attend class because I knew I would need in-person instruction for both English and Economics. Coronavirus definitely affected me for this part of my life because these are two subjects I am weaker in. Additionally, I still plan to attend the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in the fall, but coronavirus definitely ruined my plans on traveling with my family to the island. My family has been super supportive on my decision to still fly out and attend in-person classes, but I know that UH may end the semester early to avoid spikes in coronavirus numbers.

7. What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?

For me, the worst thing I have been told would have to be either "your high school graduation doesn't matter, it's your college graduation that counts" or "you're never going to talk to your friends and teachers after high school." These are not necessarily terrible comments to be told, but I think every Class of 2020 graduate would prove these statements otherwise.

8. What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the Class of 2021?

The Class of 2021 needs to know that they should always take full advantage of events that are happening during school. Whether it is dressing up for spirit week, the homecoming game, or after school fundraisers, I think they should try to attend and live out those last few events because life really surprises you. You never realize that after June, all the Bitmojis that were once centralized at your high school location will now be spread out across the world.

9. What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most?

I am for sure going to remember the feeling of not being able to leave the house. At the beginning of senior year, I wanted to stay home from school because I always hated having to get up early in the morning and dragging myself to my first period calculus class. When quarantine started, I was ecstatic for the social break I was about to go through. After a couple months, I missed waking up at 5:30 AM to drive to school and struggling in my AP Lit class with my best friend. I know that later on in life, when I don't want to get up for work, I will remember the feeling of being cooped up in the house with nothing else to do but watch Netflix.

10. What will you miss most about high school?

I will definitely miss my friends and my teachers the most. From the start of high school, my friends really helped me come out of my comfort zone. They helped shape me into the person I am today and they really brought out the lively side of me. They were also the people I would confide in when I could not talk to my family. Honestly, my friends from high school are my entire world and knowing that I was not able to spend the last two to three months with them hurt me deeply. My three favorite teachers throughout high school taught: calculus, technical theatre, and graphic design/yearbook. I kid you not, these teachers were the sassiest, realest, most amazing teachers I have ever had. All three of them matched my chaotic energy and truly made my high school experience what it was. I had all three of these teachers for 2 to 3 years in high school, and I could not imagine my high school journey without them. Though I was going to say goodbye to my friends and teachers eventually, they will always be my favorite part of high school.


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