What COVID-19 Has Stolen From The #ClassOf2020

Updated: Apr 6

As everyone knows by now, K-12 schools and universities are finishing the school year online. We see funny memes and posts from parents about #quarantinelife and having their kids at home all day doing schoolwork. We even get inspired by the creative ways that moms and dads get their kids to learn at home. Some even say that this homeschooling thing is something positive, because kids get to spend more time at home with their families, and they're not wrong.

But what about the seniors? Those who have worked tirelessly to graduate from high school or finish their college undergrad?

My own younger sister is one of these students. A couple months ago, she texted me saying, "I just ordered my cap and gown" with about 10 exclamation points. My heart swelled for her. It took me back to my own college graduation and that feeling of fulfillment, that you have achieved something huge that no one can take away from you. I was, and am, so proud of her, and was looking forward to May when we would attend her graduation ceremony.

But then COVID-19, that thief of so many things, made its presence known. Sure, it can't take away that diploma. But thousands of students across the U.S., across the world, have had their graduation ceremonies cancelled. They do not get to take that epic, victorious walk across a stage with their friends, their families watching proudly from their seats. The class of 2020 will not get to turn their tassels, or throw their caps in the air with their peers. Graduation parties will be rescheduled, forward to a date where that thrilling graduation moment isn't so fresh anymore, or cancelled altogether.

COVID-19 has stolen all of these precious memories that should have been made and feelings that should have been experienced. These moments may only happen once in a lifetime. Later, of course, when all of this passes, the hope is that 2020 grads will make up for it somehow--hold their own celebrations, parties, and dinners with friends and family. But there's no doubt that it just won't be the same. My sister had this to say:

"Obviously, these are circumstances that are out of our control. But college seniors everywhere are now having to pay the price and be cheated out of the ultimate senior experience that they have waited for for four years: commencement. I can remember being a freshman trying to adjust to college like every other student. But with every long night, hard test, and stressful day that passed, I knew I was one step closer to graduating and earning the diploma I've worked so hard for. Not being able to look forward to, and imagine myself, walking across the stage to receive my diploma amongst all my peers is an experience I will never be able to get back. To all the seniors out there who are disappointed and struggling with their new normal, you're not alone."

We see you, #ClassOf2020. Once social distancing is a thing of the past, and you happen to meet a 2020 grad, congratulate them. Better yet, if you have one in your family or circle of friends, give them a much-needed hug. And maybe a self-care basket.

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© 2011 BY Shanique Byrd