Goodbye Senior Year

Why does the early ending of senior year hurt so bad?


Photo by Emma

As senior year slips away and we adjust to the new normal, masks are expected.

By Emma Gustavsson, Editor-in-Chief

All summer of 2019 I was thrilled for my senior year. I remember raving with my friends and my boyfriend about how much fun our final year of high school would be. In August we were already looking forward to prom and Senior Sunset as well as the big graduation. How wrong would I be.

In October, I found out I would need my hips completely reconstructed through four major surgeries; two for each hip, the recovery time being a year for each. I needed a wheelchair from September to December (my first hip reconstruction) and from surgery in December until February, unable to enjoy or participate in the first half of my senior year. I was then dependent on my crutches for two more months. My left hip took away most of my senior debate season and time away from the newspaper I so dearly love. The one silver lining was that by prom and graduation, I’d be at least somewhat able to walk and have fun again, before going back to the hospital to get my right hip broken into pieces and screwed back together. Looking forward to being physically able to walk out of PRHS with my head held high for the last time after the months of physical therapy and mobility aids along with my teachers’ support got me through a few meltdowns when everything became too much. Not only this, but my partner and I qualified for state in debate after the months of suffering, which would be one of the highlights of high school. Again, how wrong would I be.

I left school along with my peers on March 13th, still on crutches but recovering well. “When we all come back, I will be walking without crutches,” I reported to my teachers, excited for them to see how far I’ve come: “Just wait and see!” Then, we all became aware of just how dire the situation was around the globe. COVID-19 transitioned from being an afterthought to all anyone ever reported on or talked about. I couldn’t go on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat without being bombarded with statistic after statistic and political commentary after political commentary. Fear spread like wildfire and the stay-at-home orders were placed. Physical therapy became my only contact with the outside world, but I was still holding out hope that I’d at least be able to enjoy May of my senior year. When they canceled prom, my heart ached. I had already bought my beautiful dress and I would have been able to walk and have a great time, like a celebration of my hard work. When they canceled the rest of my senior year, it dawned on me that the teachers who had relentlessly supported me through my struggles wouldn’t get to see me walk out either. Their lasting memory of me wouldn’t end with my triumph of being able to walk again. Graduation has not been officially canceled for our class at the time of my writing this, but I assume it will be. This physically hurts my heart the most. When I knew I would be well enough to walk the stage on my own at graduation, my heart soared. A walk of victory that all American high schoolers look forward to, a symbol of moving forward to bigger and better things; graduation means a lot. For me, it symbolized just that, but it also signified a triumph over the hardest school year of my entire life. Graduation was going to be my victory lap, where my family, my peers, my teachers, and I could see how far I had come regardless of the horror I had dealt with for months before. Even though my senior year was harder than most, the loss of graduation isn’t any less horrible for everyone else. We know people are dying and nurses and doctors everywhere are heroes and maybe losing a high school dance or graduation is petty compared to people losing their lives. We may not have lost our lives, but we are still mourning. We are mourning a rite of passage that 12 years of school culminate in. We are mourning the last months of knowing our friends who will all spread out once college comes. We are mourning the untainted joy of completing the first phase of our lives. We are mourning final championships. It doesn’t help when ignorant underclassmen think it’s funny what we’ve lost, or adults remind us that people are dying. We know, but before you feel the need to remind us that it could be worse, consider how robbed we have been, along with our parents, who won’t get to see us graduate either. 

We all joked with each other in AP Lit on March 13th, “How crazy would it be if this were our last day of high school? Haha.” How right we were. We didn’t know at the time that it was the last in-person interaction we’d have with some of our peers or the last time we’d see our teacher in class. You never know what you have until it’s gone, and I never thought to appreciate the classes I didn’t like, or my exclusively at-school friendships or the small talk before class with teachers who care about me. I wish I had taken note of the smell of the building, the faces of my lesser-known peers, and my fun lunch conversations, because that was it. I won’t get those things again and neither will my classmates.