Posted on

Students clinging to hope in heartbreaking senior year

As May draws ever closer, to some, it means flowering trees, birds nesting and baby farm animals. For others, it means the possible reopening of businesses closed because of concerns over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

For still others, it means the chance to finish what was started more than a decade before. A chance to walk across the stage at a high school graduation ceremony. A chance to receive years worth of hard work summed up in a diploma to hang on the wall.

“It hasn’t really sunk in that my senior year could potentially be over,” said Cadott senior Abby Eiler. “I feel like this break is like an extended spring break, instead of early summer vacation.”

At first, Gov. Tony Evers declared all Wisconsin schools be closed March 18, with the date to reopen set for April 6. However, within just three days of that order, Evers mandated the schools would remain closed until April 24 – or longer.

“I can’t imagine not having a graduation,” said Jenna Brosted, Lake Holcombe senior. “I’ve worked so hard for the past 12 years, I would hate to not have the moment to walk across the stage and receive my diploma.”

Graduation isn’t the only thing up in the air. Baseball, softball, track, golf – all have been postponed, waiting on word to see if the sports will get the nod to start their spring season.

“It is hard waiting to see if the season can, or will, start,” said Eiler, who went to State with her 4x800 relay team in 2018. “I have been looking back on old track photos and I am sad, because I am missing my last opportunity to run for Cadott.”

While some seniors wait to see if their sports season can begin, others have seen it come to an end. With archery canceled before the season was over, archers who have dedicated years to the sport, were left hanging with bows pointed at a target no longer attainable.

“I mean, it sucked a lot,” said Cornell senior Tyler Harycki, star archer for his team. “I worked so hard for preparing for State, shooting the best I ever have, then it gets canceled. It was heartbreaking, to be honest.”

Music has also been put on hold or snatched away before seniors could draw a breath.

“I’ve always had a passion for music, it is the way I’ve been able to get through rough times and express myself,” said Brosted, who was set to bring home multiple first ratings at State competition. “No matter how much I say that it’s not a big deal, that it’s over for me, it’s not true. It hurts to see my last opportunity slip out of my hands.”

There is a slim possibility spring concerts can take place within each school district, hinging on the slowing of COVID-19 in time. Some musical happenings are likely not going to take place, as time constraints make practice nearly impossible.

This is especially true for Brosted, who has shared center stage with the Lake Holcombe School and Community Theater family, over her middle and high school career.

“All year, I can’t help but look forward to the summer musical,” said Brosted. “It is one of my absolute favorite things to do. The feeling of the spotlight on my face is indescribable. I always looked forward to my senior year, I felt it gave me an opportunity to be a leader.

“All year, I would ask the director if she had any ideas of what she wanted to do. I counted down the days until I got to be back on stage. Sadly, this is no longer a reality for me.”

Proms, dances, dress-up days, sleepovers, parties and pranks. As each day on the calendar slips by, yet another “last” has been stolen from the seniors.

“It is very weird to be away from my friends, because I usually see them every day or I can hang out with them,” said Eiler. “I miss them a lot.”

Worries have piled upon worries, as seniors are forced to complete their year online.

How will this affect scholarships? Will we get to go back to school at all? What about that credit I need?

Adding to the stress, seniors who have jobs have also been affected by the coronavirus, as businesses have closed. In spite of their own troubles, seniors are concerned for the businesses they’ve called “home” for years, and whether the local businesses can stay afloat.

But in the end, it all comes down to graduation.

“I mean, it would be nice to get to walk down the aisle,” said Harycki, “but I’m sure they will find a way to get us our graduation ceremony.”

Eiler agrees and hopes something will happen that allows a normal ceremony to take place, as a way for the seniors to say goodbye to their school and take that first step into the future.

Brosted says while it may seem trivial to those not in school, she asks adults to think back when they were seniors and imagine prom taken from them, then their graduation ceremony and party. Brosted asks people to extend a little sympathy toward the class of 2020.

“We always want it to be over, at least until it’s not our choice anymore,” said Brosted, referring to senioritis. “It hurts to know that we will not get to experience everything senior year is supposed to be.”

Brosted says she hopes not only to get her senior year back, but also feels for the families who are experiencing the loss of a loved one from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, as more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed and yet more everyday life is shaken up, seniors wait for their phone to buzz, letting them know the fate of their senior year.

Good news or bad, that remains to be seen.

“I hope we see a miracle in these next few weeks,” said Brosted. “I pray night and day that things will take a turn for the better.”