The class of 2020 has been waiting 13 years to walk across the graduation stage. Yet, the COVID-19 virus threatens to steal that moment from seniors worldwide.
Last night, North Platte Public Schools canceled the rest of the school year. Remote learning will be scheduled for PreK-11th grade students. Seniors will work online to finish their graduation requirements. “North Platte Public Schools have decided to take the necessary steps to continue in a precautionary manner and safeguard our 4,000 students, 700 employees, community, state and nation,” said superintendent Ron Hanson during a press conference today.
Many NPHS seniors are coming to terms with high school being abruptly over. Senior Jack Carlson has participated in several activities throughout his last four years. “I am part of the musical; it got postponed the night of dress rehearsal, and golf, track, soccer were all just getting started,” he said.
The soon-to-be-graduate said he loves to watch his friends at games and meets. “I can feel the emptiness of losing out on an activity you love to do,” he said.
Shortly after the district called school off for the year, principal Scott Siegel reassured students and staff through a personalized video. “You guys are the generation that was strong enough to get through this as young people, you were the generation that was able to face obstacles,” he said.
The principal noted that many people are unsure and worried about losing their prom and graduation.“If possible there will be things that we can do to make sure you have some of the normal rites of passage with your school years,” he said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people limit their interaction to 10 people or less to slow the spread of Covid-19. “As the current CDC guidelines will not allow [prom and graduation] to occur, we are making alternate plans unless these guidelines are lifted,” said superintendent Ron Hanson.
Seniors feel these traditions are part of the experience that makes high school memorable. “We all are stressed and sad thinking about our senior year being taken away from us,” senior Hallie Godbey said.
Senior Carsten Brady is making the most out of the situation. “We don’t know if those events will be canceled or postponed,” he said. “I’m just trying to think of what I can do, not what I can’t do.”
Senior Hannah Fitzpatrick feels like this affects seniors more because they won’t get another year of high school. “This is it; this is what we’ve been looking forward to since our freshman year,” she said. “All our lasts that we’ve worked so hard for, we don’t get to complete.”
Even though she’s disappointed, Fitzpatrick said the cancelations are necessary. Even though I’m bummed, I totally understand. It’s not worth endangering the lives of the sick and elderly,” she said.
School ending early has made senior Jayden Leal think about all the “lasts” she will miss. “The idea that senior prom, graduation, skip day, the senior prank and so much more might not happen is really taking a toll on us,” she said.
The entire process is new for everyone Hanson said. “Please be patient, positive, and flexible as we pursue this new journey,” Hanson said.