For many Bellarmine students, the premature closure and transition to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic was most likely seen as cumbersome. Many feel disappointed their seasons shortened, club tournaments canceled, performances lessened and end of the year activities (such as junior prom) postponed and ultimately canceled. Juniors and Underclassmen will always have their return to campus in the fall to look forward to. While this may be an odd way to end the year, some may feel reassured because their high school journey is not yet over. Obviously this is not the case for seniors, who will be ending there twelve-year long academic journey sooner than expected and without many of the events that make a senior year enjoyable. At the start of next year, seniors will be dispersed across the nation beginning a new academic journey with the start of college. For many, the end of high school marked the end of athletic careers. Friends that maybe took for granted seeing each other daily now are faced with not having a final goodbye or the last laugh with classmates. Unfortunately, there is not much that seniors can do about this. We must show resilience and look for the positive.
Through the introduction of online learning and the overall schedule change and no extracurriculars to fill the time, seniors have time to learn a new skill or partake in activities that during the normal school year, a student would not have enough time. We asked a handful of seniors what they view as the positive and negative aspects of online learning.
Let’s start with some positives!
Virtually each senior we asked had the same or a similar response regarding the positives from the online school system. Everyone agreed the workload was much less and the students had more free time. With this free time a multitude of activities have ensued, Ethan Fein shared, “to kill the extra time I have been watching a lot of TV shows and movies, I also like to work out in my garage. I have been trying to get out of the house and go on drives just to get a nice change of scenery.” Many people see comfort in a simple outdoor walk or even a drive. They are saying it is almost therapeutic during this bleak period in our world. Another senior, Jake Gular, “Any extra time that I do have goes into, working out, sleeping, eating and playing videogames.” Exercise seems to be a common activity among most seniors. While gyms may be closed, it is still important to stay in shape, and many workouts in creative ways. Some had weight sets in their garages while others use household objects as makeshift weights. Others enjoy running or walking outside. Ben Roberson, who by some is known as “goat boy” (only because he raises goats), detailed what he likes to do, “I have been playing a lot of soccer in my front yard, hanging out with my pets (& goats) and playing videogames/watching Netflix.” As we can see, due to the additional free time allotted because of online school, seniors spend their time participating in a variety of different activities.
However, along with the extra free time and additional fun activities, we also see the downside of the campus closure. Many seniors looked forward to the many fun senior activities, such as a prom or the senior prank or even to spend time with friends one more time. Unfortunately, many of these things have been sacrificed. When asked about what he misses most, Ethan Fein says he misses seeing his friends, “Not being able to participate in the senior year events sucks. It has really shown that seeing my friends every day is something I took for granted and it’s tough to not be able to properly celebrate the end of high school.” Senior year is a time for students to come together and look back on their four-year academic journey. Unfortunately, many of the plans to celebrate will have to be pushed into the summer. For Ben, he wants one day where everyone can come together one last time, “It really sucks and I hope the events end up happening one way or another, and I hope somehow we get to go back to school even for just a day to reconnect with everyone.” As a senior, I hope that we can reconnect as a class and come together one more time before we all venture to college. Andrew Coli provided a deferential point of view regarding missing senior activities, “Obviously it sucks missing out on prom and graduation but some people have been negatively affected much more significantly than I have.” Andrew Coli brings an interesting and important point, while it may feel bad to miss out on these activities, many people have lost loved ones to this virus and we must all do our part to ensure that this passes over. While it may feel unfair to lose these events, we’re all helping the world by staying home, to ensure that the people who live on campus like the Jesuits and many of the teachers are safe. Surprisingly, when we asked seniors about their least favorite part of this whole event they complained about boredom. With the decreased amount of work, which allows for more free time, many fun activities have been closed due to quarantine. While sheltering in place at home seemed tolerable at first, boredom sets in.
Since most celebratory senior events have been canceled, seniors use their time to make the best of the situation. Seniors connect with friends with video calls, video games, or sporadic social distance meetups. While graduation has been postponed, there seems to be some light at the end of this tunnel. The Administration has stated that they will host a graduation event during the summer with a date set for July 31st. This event is optional and it will only allow for seniors to attend, no family members will be allowed to attend. However, I am sure the event will be live-streamed for our families. This last event will allow seniors to see their friends together one more time. This event will mark a sense of completion and closure for the senior class of 2020.
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing everyone in July!
Until then, please stay safe and follow the social distancing guidelines.