Life for seniors during the pandemic: In their own words

Published 11:14 am Friday, June 19, 2020

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Editor’s Note: While the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone to some degree, it’s been especially tough for high school seniors, depriving them of milestone events such as prom and graduation, along with spring sports like softball and baseball. The Stanly News & Press asked a few seniors about what life has been like working remotely, what their favorite school memories were and what their plans are for the future. Listed below are their responses. Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What has it been like moving to online learning and knowing that key events (prom, senior trip, etc.) have been canceled?

Michelle Huggins of South Stanly: For us seniors, senior year is something you dream about your whole life and repeat scenarios over and over in your head about what it is going to be like. Twelve long years of school build up to these prime moments — moments to build your last memories with the only people you have known your whole life. Moments like prom or senior picnic, and even graduation slipped right through our fingers. Knowing we won’t get those moments back is really despairing. South has always done a lot for its seniors and gone above and beyond to honor them in past years. So for the class of 2020, those small moments that you may think are silly like the “Senior Walk” down the hallway on awards day, that got canceled, they matter. All I can say in conclusion to that and everything that has happened is, it is depressing, it really is. If only life had do-overs, this would be my do-over.

Drake Page of South Stanly: Online learning as a whole has been pretty simple for me, since most of my classes were already online. Missing events like the prom are disappointing, but missing my senior year of baseball has been the hardest.

Kaitlyn Tucker of South Stanly: Online learning did not really affect me as I was taking all online classes through SCC this spring. It has been hard to grasp that key events of high school are canceled, such as senior prom and my senior softball season. It’s hard to believe that we will never get to experience these things that we have been looking forward to for years.

Kevon McRae of North Stanly: It’s ok to wish I could be back in school to learn more.

Kong Xoua Moua of North Stanly:  I had to get used to online learning and it was hard for me to accept that key events such as prom, senior trips and more had to be canceled.

Elithe Hudson of North Stanly: Because of having many online classes, my transition to online has not been difficult. Teachers are great about helping and making sure I understand expectations. It is disappointing that prom, senior trips, and athletic seasons have been canceled, but knowing that it was in the best interest of public safety it’s easier to accept. I was fortunate that my main high school sport was in the fall.

Kaitlyn Clark of West Stanly: I think for me the most impactful thing has been just the thought of graduation, prom and sports seasons being canceled for good. All four years of high school we looked forward to these events and we prepare to walk across that stage for our accomplishments. For that to be just taken away so suddenly was a feeling that you really can’t describe. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that we have played my last game of our lives or even walked the halls of West Stanly as a student for the last time.

Monserrat Santos of West Stanly: It has definitely put a strain on the motivation I have to complete my school work. I no longer have that time specifically dedicated to instruction so I’ve tried to make a schedule for myself. Along with the cancellation of our senior activities, it has been discouraging, to say the least. However, I have found ways to motivate myself and look forward to what is to come.

Lauryn Hopkins of Albemarle: It has impacted my life by not being able to see my friends, teachers and other school staff in my last year of high school. It has changed the feeling of completing my school year and the excitement of my senior year. I am not able to have the traditional prom and graduation date that I dreamed of. You go to school for this amount of time believing that you will be able to celebrate accomplishments in the way that others before you have experienced.

How have you tried to continue to stay in touch with friends and teachers to try and make the most of your final year in high school?

Huggins: Staying in touch these days is not hard with all the different social media platforms out there, like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Zoom etc. However, with all the social butterflies being under the stay at home order these past couple months, it has been so hard and agonizing. I can admit I am going a little crazy myself. Emails and zoom calls with my class and my teachers have been nice, along with large group chats with my friends. When the stay at home order was lifted one of the first things we did was ride to a parking lot and sit in a circle in our cars and talk. It felt amazing to have face to face interaction even if it was 10 feet away and running cars separating us!

Pierson: It’s been really hard due to quarantine and online just isn’t the same.

Tucker: My friends and I talk almost every single day through social media, mainly Snapchat.

McRae: I have tried by texting them personally and calling them.

Moua: I have tried to continue to stay in touch with friends and teachers through the use of email and social media sites.

Hudson: This is much different than it would have been 10-15 years ago before so much social media. It is easy to stay in touch with friends and teachers through social media and online options.

Clark: I think in the beginning it was just hard to actually sit down and stay at home for days on end without seeing our friends. To just sit at home while our senior year is just slipping away is hard. We still try to call, text and FaceTime, and maybe even go for walks at the park. However, it just becomes hard to think of the time getting taken from you before we all split and go to college.

Santos: I use FaceTime to stay connected with my friends throughout the week and weekends. I have attended Zoom meetings with my principal, teachers and peers to remain informed. It’s definitely not the same as being face to face, but it has helped

Hopkins: I have been doing a lot of FaceTime with friends. Virtual meetings and emails with teachers and the principal have kept us connected with schoolwork.

3) What are your future plans (college, workforce, athletics) and how has the COVID-19 situation affected them? 

Huggins: This fall, I am very excited to be attending Brevard College and hopefully in studying the major Psychology. Brevard is a very, very small school. It is popular because of its small size. Ironically my class size at Brevard is the same size as my class now at South Stanly. That was one of the reasons I was gravitated toward it. I knew I was not interested in a school that had thousands of students rather than hundreds.

Pierson: I plan to attend UNCC to pursue an Engineering degree. At this time, Covid has not affected my college goals since most of my classes are online.

Tucker: I plan to attend Presbyterian College this fall to major in Biology and play softball. COVID-19 has affected me in that I can’t go to student orientation and meet new friends and see what dorm life will be like.

McRae: My future plan is to go to Greensboro College and learn more and be a big part of their football program.

Moua: My future plans are to go to Appalachian State University and major in advertising. The pandemic has affected my future plans by making me realize my strengths and weaknesses (due to staying inside).

Hudson: I graduated in January to play tennis at Pfeiffer University this spring. I am disappointed my first college tennis season was canceled, but it is understandable. I plan to remain at Pfeiffer, play tennis and major in business administration and minor in mathematics.

Clark: Currently my future plans include going to Stanly Community College for Nursing which I have had planned for around a year now.

Santos: I had planned on attending a few admitted student days provided by the colleges I was debating between, but those have been canceled. Not being able to visit the college I will be attending has made the process a little overwhelming.

Hopkins: I plan to attend Stanly Community College in the fall. I want to major in Health Science. My hopes are to complete an Associate’s degree and transfer to a university to complete my major.

4) What are a few of your most cherished high school memories that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Huggins: Although South Stanly is one of the smaller schools in the county our school pride runs deep. That is something I have always loved about South Stanly, and it makes for great sporting events. Football seasons are always a blast. Theme nights have always been something that have brought the whole school together. Last year, some friends and I started tailgating before football games. Bringing food and even grilling (which did not go as planned) and playing lots of football and cornhole before games are something that were so much fun and it was cool to be a part of.

Pierson: I’ve played on the varsity baseball team throughout my high school years. My team is my family and we have worked hard to be where we are. This was my last year with these guys and losing this opportunity to compete is something I can’t get back, but it’s also my most cherished memories.

Tucker: Some of my most favorite memories are definitely softball-related. Getting pumped up in the field house before games or the bus rides to away games are probably some of the most fun I’ve had. Also, going undefeated every year in conference and bringing home a trophy to South for three years straight.

McRae: Making it to the third round of playoffs for football and going to states for track.

Moua: A few of my most cherished high school memories that I would like to share are:

  • Being chosen as Drum Major and leading the band “through the fire and flames.”
  • Being the student announcer for my school.
  • Having band music battles against the away team during football games.

Hudson: I enjoyed my math, history, English, chorus and handbell classes most. I especially enjoyed playing tennis and swimming. My most memorable events were winning the conference in tennis my freshman year, winning doubles tennis tournament my senior year and participating in All-State Chorus.

5) What has your time at South Stanly meant to you?

Huggins: The last four years being a part of South Stanly have been the most outstanding, memorable moments I will truly treasure forever. Lots of laughs, tears and just overall happiness always field the hallways of South Stanly. The class of 2020 in particular have always been super active within the school and always been academically motivated through all the curves and challenges. Through all the school pride at sporting events throughout the year to always winning the spirit stick at school assemblies. South has not only helped me grow academically, but it has helped me grow has a person…There is a saying from Winnie the Pooh that is painted on our senior rock this year and it says, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” How lucky am I to have the experiences that I did at South. South is not just a school, it is not just a community that comes together at games, it is a family.

Pierson: SSHS and especially SSHS baseball has taught me many life lessons. Everything that I learned relates back to working together, accountability, leadership and much more. We are not only life-long best friends, but also family.

Tucker: My time at South has been amazing. I am so glad I got to spend four years at such a great school. South Stanly High will forever hold a special place in my heart.

McRae: My time at North Stanly has meant a lot to me. I learned that we are family and take care of each other and that the teachers try their best to help you make it in the real world.

Moua: North Stanly has taught me what leadership and responsibility means. North Stanly has also made me realize my strengths and weaknesses.

Hudson: Because my mother taught school at North Stanly, it was my second home. It was a great place to be during my high school years. I will always remember how much the faculty and staff cared and helped students, especially during COVID-19. The staff has been incredible trying to ensure our senior year is special. I received a well-rounded and fun education.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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