Reflections of a 2020 graduating senior

The author, a resident of Mason Street, graduated last week.

Thursday, March 12, 2020 was an odd day at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. 

There was an unexpected fire drill that morning that lasted so long that some of us thought the school might be on fire again. (There was a small fire earlier in the year.) The whole thing was unfortunate for my AP environmental science class because we were taking a test when the alarm went off. My teacher told us that we could finish our tests on Monday.

Friday was going to be a professional development day, so students would have the day off. The school had a TGIF feeling, despite the chaos. I made plans with my teachers to make up tests and come to some morning coach classes during the following week.

At the after-school club I ran, a few sophomore students were asking if I thought the school would be shut down. COVID-19 was on almost everyone’s mind. I smiled and said, “Eventually, but it may take a little while.” When my dad came to pick me up from school, I cleared out my locker, not wanting to leave anything in there for three days.

That moment was the end to the ”normal” flow of my life.  When I got in the car the governor was on the radio announcing that the state would begin social distancing, and schools would close for two weeks. I messaged everyone the news and told them I would see them in two weeks.  I never finished that science test.

For a high school senior, this has been a hard time. My class missed out on a lot of key senior traditions like prom, class trips, the annual water balloon fight, the senior picnic, senior farewell and, of course, a traditional graduation ceremony. We also lost making fun memories with each other. Most of us did not say goodbye that Thursday. I said “See ya!” and “Have a good weekend!” more than any other form of goodbye.

Losing our year, our friends, and our way of life has affected each of us differently. I know motivation was down for almost everyone in my class. Our sleep schedules have been ruined, and we disconnected from each other for a little bit. But as time went by and a new normality set in, we built our own type of senior year. We learned how to play games online together, watch movies together and have celebrations online. We relearned how to learn, and accomplished lessons, exams, and all the things we would do at school — all while in our pajamas.

And then we officially graduated!  Instead of sitting together in the Coppin auditorium for four hours of speeches, applause and awards we sat on our sofas or in our bedrooms for one hour with only two speeches and inevitable technical difficulties in the name reading. Despite this, or maybe because of it, graduation felt right. We have worked so hard, and gone through a lot of crazy, strange, and memorable events over the past four years, so that it seems only fitting that our graduation was kind of weird to participate in, but memorable, nonetheless.

No doubt still more odd days lie ahead. Our plans will be changed, and tests will be rescheduled. But we can face it knowing we have already gone through weird and difficult times, and that we adapted, thrived and had fun along the way.

–Bolton Hill resident Onalee Anderson will attend St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the fall.

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