As we all know, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, all schools in Florida were sent online for the rest of the school year, basically canceling all graduation festivities and traditions the 2020 seniors had worked so hard. It is terribly frustrating to think about going through what these teens had to go through. Graduating high school and starting over at a new school, usually away from home, is already terrifying, but with everything else going on, I don't know how they've stayed sane. So, I reached out to one of my very good friends, Kaitlyn Snook, a member of the class of 2020, and asked her about her experience as a graduate amidst quarantine.
Where did you/are you graduating from?
Estero High School in Estero, Florida.
What has it been like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
It's been really surreal. At first I was sort of in denial, I think everyone was, and as things escalated, I was just forced to come to terms with it all. It feels like my life was put on pause.
Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?
Graduation, for sure. I feel like I never got the closure I needed. Graduation is something that everyone experiences and it's your last chance to say goodbye to the people you've spent the last four years with. Not having that has made it hard to move on.
What has been a silver lining?
It really made me appreciate life more. I've realized how much my friends mean to me and how hard it is to be separated from them. Even little things like sitting down in a restaurant or going to see a movie. I'm definitely going to appreciate that more when I'm able to go out.
What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?
My friends and I had a Zoom prom and took pictures in our prom outfits. My school also did a virtual graduation that I watched with my family.
What are your next steps, and have they been impacted by coronavirus?
I'll be attending FGCU in the fall but I still don't know what the semester will be like. The end of my senior year has already been strange and now my first real college experiences are going to be altered as well.
What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?
I've heard a lot of people saying "I wish I got that when I graduated!" about the things we've been given to make up for not having a graduation. For example, the signs in our front yards or the parades some people are having. It's nice that we get those things but I'd still rather have a regular graduation ceremony.
What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the class of 2021?
Don't take anything for granted. Appreciate every moment, big and small, because you're going to miss it a lot more than you think. Even the classes and teachers that you hate or just having lunch with your friends and especially the end of year festivities.
What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most?
I'll remember the unique bond I've formed with my friends and family as we all go through this scary time together. I've learned a lot about myself and my loved ones during quarantine and it's changed my outlook on a lot of things.
Do you think all of this has alienated your class from each other or brought you closer together?
It's definitely brought us closer together. Even though we can't be with each other for our final days of high school, we've all been there to support our friends and done the best we can to stay connected. I feel a lot closer to my classmates now that we have this weird shared experience; I feel closer to the entire graduating class of 2020, not just the students at my school.
To all the recent graduates, I want to personally congratulate you on all your hard work these past four years. You deserved nothing more than your name to be called as you walk across the stage while hearing your family cheer in the distance even though they said to hold all applause till the end. I truly wish you all the luck in college, and I promise, it will get better from here on out.