COVID-19 Ate My Senior Year; Ava R-1 Seniors On Finishing High School At Home

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

Editor’s note: We asked some Ava R-1 High School Seniors about their experience of having their senior year cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are their (lightly edited) responses.

Calee Dollarhide

Calee Dollarhide Submitted Photo

The process started with pure excitement for Spring Break and none of this even in mind which turned to boredom quickly when break was extended. 

The point I realized this was all real when a customer at work looked at me and said, “Thank you so much for working at this time.” I work in fast food so this really jumped out to me because nothing of the sort had ever happened before.

I joined band late in the game and this was the first year I decided to participate and compete in Solo and Ensembles. I practiced almost every single day to prepare and I felt extremely confident and then the day before it was sadly canceled. 

I don’t feel cheated only because I understand why everything is being done although I am still bummed. 

Throughout this period so far my family and I have enjoyed playing cards a lot. We play it almost every evening until much later than we should at night. 

This situation has brought me and my mom so much closer and forced us to work out some previous arguments we had. 

All of my teachers are wonderful and have kept in great contact. Even if they don’t personally message me they have written long comments on each assignment. 

I’ve had multiple Google hangouts just to discuss how everyone is doing. 

Overall, this whole situation is scary but I believe it has brought the community together in a different type of way.

 

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson Submitted Photo

I don’t necessarily feel cheated out of a senior year, more so robbed of it. 

I had so many events that I was pumped up for. I had spent months practicing for Solo and Ensemble competition and it got canceled the day before. 

I’m not so much sad about the stuff I don’t get to do, I’m more regretful over the stuff I didn’t do when I had the opportunity to. 

If there is one takeaway from all of this, it’s that you should treat every experience like it’s your last, because it just might be.

Being at home all the time has been kind of surreal. I’ve lost track of the days. Everything just kind of blurs together. I’ve been trying to take my mind off of the whole thing by gardening all of the time. I’ve also been cooking more and have started to learn a new language.

I wish I could sleep in, waking up at 5:30 for school for the past 13 years has me hardwired to get up before sunrise. That doesn’t stop me from napping however…

I haven’t been doing nearly as much schoolwork as I should be. I kind of forget that it exists. Out of sight out of mind. I haven’t been in contact with my teachers as much as I’d like to be.

I miss seeing my friends and teachers everyday, I miss making music in band. It’s not until something is gone that you realize how much it means to you.

I hope to tell my future kids one thing: If it ever happens again, invest in toilet paper.

I don’t personally know anyone who tested positive for COVID-19. I am semi-worried about getting Corona because I am the person who goes places to get provisions for my family.

When this is all over, I’m looking forward to going out to a restaurant or hanging out with friends. 

I try not to stress over things I have no control over. Things will eventually start functioning again, but I can’t even begin to imagine how everything will go. I just hope it all works out.

 

Camryn Lee

Camryn Lee Submitted Photo

Knowing this is my last year at Ava high school my heart is broken that it’s over so soon, We didn’t get a goodbye and we celebrated our last day without even knowing it. 

So when the time comes and I have to tell my future kids about this, I will tell them that it hurt us. It made us sad. It broke our hearts. 

Then I will tell them that we overcame it, and we learned from the experiences, we had a tough time locked inside our houses but when we got out we celebrated and never took one moment for granted. 

I will tell them I wouldn’t change a thing because it taught us to never take a moment for granted and everything we get to do on a regular basis will be more appreciated. 

One thing I do during quarantine is go on lots of walks/hikes. I know in this time separation from others is at the utmost importance, but I still love to get out and enjoy the weather. 

Not getting to see my friends stinks, but knowing I have more time to myself really helps me stay calm in a crazy time of crisis.

 

Eden Little 

Eden Little Submitted Photo

One of the first things that made COVID-19 real to me was when my sister was kicked out of Drury and told she was not coming back for the rest of the year. Colleges don’t do that for no reason. 

When I first heard that the rest of the school year was being canceled it did not feel real. I thought it was only a couple weeks extra of Spring Break and everything would be back to “normal”. 

I am going to college on a track scholarship so this was my last season to really shine, but that was taken away from me. I will never have the chance to compete one more time at the high school level. 

What comforts me is knowing that everyone else is going through the same thing so in a way we are all in this together. The first couple weeks of “quarantine” was like a vacation but then it felt like every day was a chore. That is when I decided if I have nothing to do with my time, I would go get a job and make some money for college. I did and it fills my time pretty well. 

The teachers have been great! They try to keep in contact every day and some even make videos about what they do while they are at home. 

The schoolwork has all been review and in English, we are reading “1984” which is very comparable to the situation we are in. 

I am able to stay connected with my friends via social media and high-speed wifi which was needed for the many TV shows I have now binge-watched. 

One of the biggest two questions that have been asked about school being canceled is prom and graduation. I was planning to go to prom and we are still hoping to. Dr. Nash has asked the student body their opinion about prom and we have decided that we want to have it later like in the summer. We will make that decision after the stay-at-home order is lifted. 

Graduation is my biggest concern. I have worked 13 years just to walk down that aisle at the football field and be handed my diploma. I want a real graduation ceremony and I do not think any substitute can ever match up. 

I will wait till August to have a real graduation but I also have to think about all the students that are going to their college’s summer programs and those that are joining the military. How do we honor those students? I have had a couple of online meetings with Dr. Nash and the Student Council about how to deal with these problems and we are actually having another meeting about graduation very soon. 

I have also had online meetings with my college track group and I love how I am able to already get to know the people I am going to be with for the next 4 years. 

I think the one thing all parents are thinking right now is how much they appreciate teachers and respect how they deal with us kids all day. 

I think I took for granted how school was a routine that I have always had in my life and now that it is gone, I hardly know what to do with myself. 

When I tell my kids and grandkids about the coronavirus one of the things I might tell them is how my senior year was very unique and how after many weeks of quarantine the county I lived in still never had a case of COVID-19.

 

Karcee McFarlin

Karcee McFarlin Submitted Photo

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t really feel real until other schools started rescheduling events. 

I know one morning, right after they said we wouldn’t be going to school, I realized I would never get to finish my birdhouses. In the art room, Mrs. Roy let me paint a portion of the wall. I wrote a little saying and painted a tree. I was working on decorating it, and planned to finish it 4th quarter. This will never happen now.

I missed out on a lot of stuff. I didn’t realize that I had done a lot of stuff for the last time. I’ll never have another high school band concert, and I didn’t get to enjoy my last one. I thought there was one more! There were no sad moments there, because we thought there would be another. 

One of the saddest things I’ve missed out on is the band Disney trip. We go every four years, and we were set to leave on May 17th. Everything was paid for, we had already divided up into hotel rooms, and we were prepared. But it got canceled recently. I was super excited to go on this trip. I’ve kind of always wanted to go and this was my chance! I’ve known since fifth grade I would get to do something fun my senior year, and just a month before we went it got taken away. It would’ve been an awesome senior trip, and one last fun thing with my high school friends before transitioning to college. 

I will never get to go to State for Future Business Leaders of America. This was my first year in the club, and I was really excited to go. I earned my place and competed at State, but now I won’t get to. We would’ve left yesterday for it.

I was planning on going to Prom. I had bought my dress already and was looking for accessories. I was kind of excited when they said it would be in the gym -that makes it a bit more special and memorable. I’m still hopeful we will get to do something. I’m glad the school is still trying to do something to help us remember this year. 

At home, we’ve been doing a lot of painting and fixing the house! I think we have painted four rooms since all of this started. Other than that, I’ve played a lot more video games than usual.

We’ve had fun together since being home. We watch movies every other night, and we’ve played games together. I didn’t realize how often I was busy after-school with other events until I was home all the time. It’s nice to bond with my family more. 

I don’t really have more chores. I have been able to start working though. I have a job where I can work from home, so it’s nice to have more time to make some money. I won’t have to work as hard this summer to prepare for college. It’s nice having free time to work and spend time with my family. 

Most of my schoolwork hasn’t changed that much. I’m still writing an essay for one class, reading a book online for another, and doing assignments online (which I’ve already been doing for two of my classes). It honestly hasn’t been that big of a change, other than no desks or bells!

It has been hard to focus on and do my schoolwork. It just doesn’t seem that important anymore. It’s hard to find the motivation to work when you know it doesn’t really count. Sure, you’re getting credit for it, but it doesn’t feel like it matters. 

I can talk to most of my teachers pretty easily. I talk to most of them every other day, sometimes about school and others just how I’m doing! I know I can talk to them about anything that is bugging me. 

I think I miss my friends most of all. It’s just not the same seeing them every day. 

I’m a little stressed about the future. I’m worried about when this will clear up. I’ve had to reschedule college orientation already, what if everything gets pushed back? 

I’ve tried to stay positive and happy by keeping busy; I’ve cleaned and organized, I’ve painted pictures for friends, and I’ve worked on gardening some. It’s easier to have a good attitude when you do something that’s both relaxing and productive. 

I’m hopeful that the rest of this year will be good. I think I’ve learned a lot over this time that I can use. It will be less stressful facing some certain situations now that I’ve been through this.

 

James W. Smith

James W. Smith Submitted Photo

My senior year started out great. It was one of my favorite years – until everything I enjoy doing was canceled. I finally found the things I liked doing in school – band, choir, etc – and it all just stopped. 

The big moment that I knew that it was all going downhill was after our concert band performance. The Saccos told us that ensembles had been postponed and hopefully not canceled. We know now it was canceled. 

That meant three ensembles that I was in were not going to happen (one in band, two in choir). Then we get to Spring Break and I still had hope that the jazz band would get to practice and play together again. I was practicing my charts when we received word that school was done for the year and everything was canceled. 

Java and jazz was now not happening and it reduced my hope. The only thing I was looking forward to was the Disney trip that the band was having for everyone after the year was up. Much to everyone’s dismay, the trip was canceled. The trip that we all raised $1,200 or more to go to. 

All of this along with not being able to hang out with my friends or have some of the classes in school has really got me down.