Although it was 30 years ago, I remember my senior year of high school well.
I was one of those students who actually enjoyed school. I liked my teachers, I had great friends and academically I did pretty well.
In the spring of 1990 at St. Mary’s High School, I was a class officer, captain of the tennis team and performed in the school spring production of “Godspell.” I went to the prom, I attended Class Night and parties and, of course, graduation. It was a great time that I will always treasure.
The Class of 2020 will also always remember the end of their senior year, but for very different reasons. This is the Corona Class. The class that was interrupted by COVID-19. The class whose school year ended, in most respects, in March. For them, there is no prom or spring sports, no Senior Luau or skip day. No graduation in June.
For many people, the fate of the Class of 2020 is just another casualty of the coronavirus, but these kids and their families got robbed.
Graduation is a rite of passage, a symbol of entering adulthood and the culmination of years of work. Some students struggled more than others to get to graduation. Meeting the requirements for that diploma was a hardship for many students and their families and it is a day that every student earned and should be celebrated.
I feel so bad for these young adults. I’m sure there are plenty of students who normally wouldn’t participate in all the pomp and circumstance of senior year, but even those students were stripped of the opportunity to choose whether or not to celebrate.
Any fan of the iconic John Hughes’ movies of the ‘80s knows what those rites of passage can mean. Thirty years ago, right now, I was getting ready for one of THE most iconic pre-graduation senior events – the prom.
By this point, I had my date and my dress. We were rebels at the time – in a sea of baby blue, seashell pink, peach and teal, I wore a black and white gown. Mike, my date, with whom I’m still in touch thanks to the wide world of social media, opted for the white tails over black pants with a red tie and cummerbund. Looking back, I think we were a bit ahead of our time! Of course, my “side-pony” hair-do absolutely screamed 1990. Not to mention his mullet (see photo).
I love looking back at the photos and feel bad for the seniors today who want that prom and will not have those photos to laugh about in 30 years.
We pooled our resources and shared a limo with a few other couples for the big night, which took place at Shaker Farms Country Club. It was a fabulous night – so much fun with many lifelong friends. We had worked so hard to reach senior status and we let loose on the dance floor, followed by a post-prom party at my house, breakfast in the morning at another friend’s home and then a day at the beach.
Now, I realize things like the prom are not for everyone and I’m sure there are kids who are happy that there isn’t the pressure of participating this year. But for those who have been looking forward to that night for years, I am so sorry. To them I say, host your own prom! Maybe you can’t party in person, but I know these tech-savvy students have been “socializing” in different ways lately – why not have an online prom? It won’t be the same, but it will certainly be memorable.
As I write this, schools are scrambling to figure out just how they will honor the Class of 2020. Perhaps it’s a virtual graduation, perhaps its an event over the summer or next year, but this class WILL be honored and it will be remembered. I know I will always remember you.