Many high school students have been looking forward to their senior year. Seniors have been excited to celebrate all of their effort that has finally paid off with their friends: the senior picnic, graduation and getting excited for next year. Whether seniors plan on going to college, getting a job, taking a gap year, or doing something else, it is almost meaningless when they cannot have fun with their friends. Even though this is a disappointing time for seniors, these students have plans for next year. Seniors know what they are doing in the future, even if they do not get a proper goodbye to high school. While it is reasonable to focus on what high school seniors are missing, other high school students are being overlooked.
Freshmen, sophomores and juniors are impacted just as much as seniors. These students are affected differently, but should also be given thought. All high school students are having a difficult time coping with this pandemic, and the easiest way to stay unified is to recognize more than the senior class. We are in this together. We all need guidance and just a little bit of acknowledgment. All high school students are grieving. Students are feeling lonely and forgotten. Other students feel desperate for social interaction. Some students listen to music to feel a connection, while others nap to deal with their sadness. We are all grieving differently. We are all impacted.
Many high school students are changing their schedules for next year. Some students wanted to take summer school. Students are now dropping out of their summer school programs because they cannot imagine doing more online school. Classes that originally did not seem worthwhile to take at school, now seem like a great opportunity. Other students are struggling with their language classes. It is difficult for students to learn a language by watching videos of new vocabulary. A student can only become so confident. Students may want to retake their language next year because they do not feel prepared to continue. Other students may opt-out of taking their language for the third year. Because only two years of a language are required per A-G, many students will give up. Current juniors may not take a math class their senior year for the same reason. It is not required, it is only recommended to take the fourth year. Catching up in classes where the material keeps building each year almost seems impossible. Missing so much valuable class time puts students behind. The same thing will happen for students who want to take AP classes that have a prerequisite. A student in Honors Chemistry may not feel like they have the foundation to take AP Chemistry. Many students will not be pushing themselves to their full capacity next year. Students have lost their motivation to keep working.
Freshmen, sophomore and junior students had summer plans. Some students were excited to go to enrichment programs over the summer or tour colleges. Other students were accepted to summer internships they will now not be able to attend. Students wanted to add to their resume and demonstrate their interest in a couple of colleges. There is nothing for students to add because there is nowhere to go and get experience. Students may have wanted a summer job. Unless your family is hiring you, the likelihood of working is slim to none. Many students are on club teams and are missing out on the chance to get scouted over the summer. Students are losing their positive attitudes. It is getting easier to become depressed and disappointed. Students are losing hope as more things they were looking forward to are getting canceled.
These cancelations are more meaningful to students than just missing a few hours of dancing at prom. A proper goodbye to high school is not as important as everything in between. Students are missing out on a time of growth: learning more, being motivated and engaging in different experiences. Students are no longer in an environment where they are pushed by their teachers. Students are missing out on the encouragement they would get from their teachers. Nobody is holding students to a standard except for themselves or their parents. Parents can only inspire students to work so hard. Lots of motivation comes from deadlines and accountability. The addition of online school does not motivate students because their grades are already secure. The “do no harm” policy is a good excuse to stop doing schoolwork. Students are not experiencing what they would if they were at school. Students are no longer hanging out with their friends before school, sitting next to people in classes or cramming for a test during nutrition. At least seniors get a lawn sign acknowledging that this sucks.
In this time of confusion, it is vital to remember that everyone is struggling. High school students are stressed, but the anxiety is normal. It is important to address how all high school students are feeling. We all lost something we care about: seeing our friends, our consistent routine and our positive outlook. We are all grieving, not just the senior class.