I am speechless. For the first time in my high school career, I truly don’t know what to say, what to do. There is no advice I can fall back on, nor any advice I can give, that will make this better. I can’t talk my way out of this one, make some quip and laugh it off. There’s no opinion I can write that will rectify this, no person I can talk to to bring about change. It just … is.
The announcement that the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year would be completed online will, I’m sure, be a flashbulb memory for the rest of my life. I will never forget laying in bed, scrolling through my phone, and hearing my father exclaim in language too profane to put here. Upon asking what happened, I never expected to hear that I would never have another day of school at Maize High. I’m sure none of us did.
The past day, to put it sparingly, has been difficult. Emotions have come too quickly for me to truly process them. Driving to work mere minutes after the announcement was made, I had a quick cry in my car, and that was it. I then stood in a frequently empty store by myself for the next five hours trying to find the right words, a proper outburst to truly express how I felt. It never came.
The thought that I may never again perform on the Maize stage is heartbreaking. Years of thinking of various graduation speeches for when the time came to give one have possibly gone to waste. My final term as newsmag co-editor-in-chief will probably mainly consist of writing and editing disparate online stories such as this rather than ever again completing a full mag. I would pay money to go back to the dreaded gown controversy if it meant that that would be the biggest hit Maize was taking again.
Everything I had planned on tackling just seems so out of place now. I’ll never get my last hoorah with the teachers and staff I value so dearly like I thought I would. There will be no final day where I come to school with one last joke or bit up my sleeve. Though they may occur online, reading discussions with my A.P. lit class are over. Any final attempt to change Maize High for the better or a final opinion piece to leave my school better than I found it just seems wholly inappropriate now.
These are just my woes. I have all of the sympathy in the world for the athletes who never get to compete in their final season. I do not envy the students who were mere weeks away from finally getting recognized by a college for their talent and hard work. And obviously, these should be the least of our concerns. There are students who, without school backing them, currently have no way of feeding themselves during the day, or elementary schoolers who are now not taken care of.
The hardest part of this all for me is that I don’t know what to say. There is absolutely nothing I can do to make it better. This isn’t a policy change I can weasel my way out of. There is no upper management I can ask to bring school back. Worst of all, this is a choice I entirely agree with. I understand that it’s necessary. So why does it hurt so bad?
Maybe it’s survivor’s guilt, wishing I would’ve had just one more day to check all of my boxes. I valued Maize more than anything during my time, but maybe I could’ve had a sense of closure if I had just one more day to set things right in my mind. Going to school with my future in doubt, running on fumes from reporting until 1 a.m. the night prior isn’t exactly how I wanted to go out.
After sitting on it for a day, the sun does shine a little brighter. It breaks my heart that things will never be the way they were, but I’m starting to find some sense of dumb hope that things may yet get better. Who knows? I’m sure we’ll have some modified prom and a graduation where I get to walk across some stage of sorts to grab my diploma. That’s one thought I need to hold onto today.
I’ve gotta be honest, I’m sorta feeling like a bit of a failure here. I don’t have any grand advice that can make this all better. No amount of movie quotes will properly inspire me this time. There aren’t enough jokes in the world for this pain to hide behind.
But maybe that’s the only move this time: to fully feel this pain. To understand that your feelings are real and accept the sadness this time. Don’t fight it; don’t fight to avoid it. This is one time where we’re only going to have to roll over, take a minute, and know that we’ll be fine even if the status quo has changed.
So, what small bit of advice do I have to offer? Be sad this time. Know that everyone’s feelings are valid, not just seniors. We’ve all lost something here, whether that’s as small as lunch with your friends or as big as lunch in general. Don’t waste time arguing over who has it the worst. Grief is not a contest. Lean on those who will still survive without this last term, and lend a hand to those who truly won’t.
Don’t fight this change. I promise nothing will come of it. This was not an easy decision for those in charge to make, and I believe they wouldn’t have made the announcement if there were another way. I have to believe that. You don’t make the hardest decision in your life if you don’t have to, and you certainly don’t risk making that decision twice if you go back on your word.
Whether or not it seems like it, however this affects us individually, this is the best move for us as a whole. Even if you don’t believe that this virus isn’t bad enough so far to warrant this (it is), understand that the whole point of this quarantine is to make sure it doesn’t get worse, to save lives before they’re in jeopardy. No sport, concert, or Socratic circle is worth that.
Finally, try to enjoy the little things if you have the means. Pick up a new hobby. Have a mini prom with your friends when the time is right. Start study sessions to break up whatever Zoom monotony is coming our way.
This hurts, friends. There are no two ways to put it. Every student in Kansas is going to feel this hit, in ways large or small. Don’t avoid it. Feel what you feel, and let others feel what they feel. This isn’t a contest, don’t make it one. Call it a graduation present to one of Maize’s biggest fans.