By Jessie Wagoner
When the Class of 2020 left their high schools to start Spring Break they had big plans. They were going to enjoy a week off from school and then return to finish the last eight weeks of school before graduation. They were prom dress shopping and planning graduation parties. Then everything changed.
“If I could go back to the last day of school before Spring Break I would do so many things differently,” Hayleigh Behrens, McPherson High School Senior said. “I had no idea when I left that would be it. It’s just sad for us.”
Behrens says her emotions have been all over the place since Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced the shuttering of school buildings last week. She is sad for the loss of experiences she and other members of the Class of 2020 will not experience, yet at the same time she understands the importance of social distancing.
“I had a baby, Weston, in November,” Behrens said. “My biggest goal was to finish off my senior year with him. I was determined to graduate. I’ll still graduate but it is different from what I pictured and what I was working for. All of us seniors know it isn’t fair but what is going on is out of everyone’s control.”
Behrens, like other students, will continue to complete school work from home. She still has community service hours to complete and a senior seminar which will be completed virtually. Jonah Clarke, also a McPherson High School Senior shared many of the same feelings as Behrens.
“I can’t begin to explain how I feel or how others in my class feel,” Clarke said. “ Not just for the students in my school, but for the seniors across the nation that are going through this. As we grew, we began to imagine the day of us walking across the stage and saying our final goodbyes. From looking at our friends in the eyes and sarcastically saying “I can’t wait to graduate, and get out of here.”, to the day actually being here without us knowing; this is something that I cannot quite fathom.”
Clarke says he has received many calls, text messages, prayers and thoughts from others which he appreciates.
“I didn’t ever think that the day before spring break was the last time that I would hear the school bell, walk out those doors, see my whole school, and have small conversations as we students walk throughout the school,” Clarke said. “ I will miss every slight thing about high school and the people that made these last four years so memorable.”
Celey Johnson, a senior at Canton-Galva expressed the loss of all the experiences she was looking forward to – Prom, spring sports and graduation. She also says the unknowns of the situation make it more stressful.
“For the class of 2020, we looked forward to everything, but now, we are trying to stay positive and keep an open mind, for we don’t know what the future holds,” Johnson said. “We don’t know if we will get to look forward to walking across that stage, we don’t know if we will get to experience our senior prom.”
School officials continue to explore options for graduation ceremonies and special events for the Class of 2020. In the coming weeks, as more becomes known about the pandemic, decisions will be made. One thing parents, students and school officials agree on is some recognition will be held for the Class of 2020, the real question is when and what that will look like.
“Even if it is months late, I would like a graduation ceremony,” Behrens said. “Anything the community could do to recognize us and our accomplishments would be great and I would appreciate it.”