Rachel Amir Chatman
Dear Class of 2020,
Hi. You might know me from a class we’ve taken over the years, a club we attended together, or you may not know me at all. Regardless of whether or not we experienced high school together, I know one thing: because of a virus that is out of our control, the final few months of high school that we had looked forward to for most of our lives have been completely stripped from us.
There’s no replacement for the memories that we’ll never experience, nor is there any form of platitudes that can offer any sense of real comfort. All we can do is continue to look forward to the future and try not to think too much about what we’ve missed.
When I first heard about this novel coronavirus coming out of China in January, I never thought it would impact our lives like this. I was sitting at the kitchen table with my parents, discussing the disease — then thought to be less serious than the SARS outbreak of 2003. The thought of the disease was then relegated to the back of my mind, where it sat until February.
Like any other senior, I dreamed of senior prom, the cheers at graduation, the concerts I was going to attend — in short, the idyllic “second-semester senior” experience that every movie portrays. We worked so hard for the past 12 years simply to have a chance to enjoy ourselves during our last six months of childhood.
Unfortunately, we may never experience any of that. Gone are prom plans, replaced by plans of what to do in the case of a food shortage. Instead of worrying about what we will be wearing to graduation, we have to worry about whether anyone we love will die in the upcoming months.
When we left on March 13, many of us didn’t realize that it might very well have been the last chance for us to say goodbye to our friends, teachers, and the community that has supported us. Now that it’s been confirmed that schools will not reopen for the rest of the school year, it can be easy to feel anger, resentment, or regret. However, all I see is gratitude for those who made our journey through high school a memorable experience, senior prom or not.
At the end of the day, many of us won’t remember the terrible rap music at prom or the hours spent baking in the sun at graduation long after we graduate. Instead, it is the memories that we made over the course of the school year that will shape our senior year. And, we are incredibly lucky to have been able to experience the majority of the year in this carefree manner.
As a senior experiencing this ordeal, I feel conflicted in my grief for the memories that were snatched from us in addition to my awareness that our problems are primarily first world problems. But like any other conflict, we will get through it together. I am proud to call myself a part of the Class of 2020, which, despite any and all calamities thrown at us, has remained humble and selfless throughout.