When Senior Cut Day Gets Cut: How Seniors Feel About Corona-Age Milestones
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Freshmen, bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked, go through their Stuyvesant years dreaming of their time as second-term seniors. It seems like the ultimate goal, a prize to be won at the end of seven semesters of hard work. However, this year, the coronavirus pandemic has brought this school year to a screeching halt, canceling the in-person events that seniors have been looking forward to all this time.
In lieu of an in-person graduation, the ceremony has been moved online, which has received mixed reactions from the seniors.
“[Online graduation is] kind of ridiculous. [It] sounds like a waste of time, honestly. It also sounds like a lot of lagging,” senior Alisha Wang said.
Like Wang, senior Alex Nobert feels like an online graduation means losing out on a long-awaited experience. “I’m in chorus, so I witnessed graduation for three years, and it’s always been on my mind,” she said. “All of the seniors have decked out graduation caps, and everyone's admiring them, and then we all get to sing at Carnegie Hall. [Later,] we all leave, and the seniors stay, and it’s really cool and fun and… that’s not the case anymore, which is sad.”
With normally in-person events moved onto a virtual platform, coordinators worry about bringing the same meaning to events like graduation and prom. Nobert seconded this concern: “We’re going to have a virtual graduation. We’re going to have a virtual chorus performance. [There’s going to be] sort of a virtual prom. But it’s not the same at all.” However, she went on to emphasize, “The Student Union (SU) and the senior caucus have tried really hard to try to make things happen. They are organizing a virtual graduation, but maybe we’ll have some sort of graduation and prom in the fall. There is only so much you can do.”
Yet as disappointed as most seniors are, they remind themselves that an online graduation or online prom is ultimately for the greater good. Senior Alison Juray mentioned, “A lot of kids in our school […] live with their grandparents, or their parents are older, and I think that having a graduation or prom is way too risky because even if we do like social distancing, it won’t be as fun or have the carefree feeling that you need to have at graduation or prom. It’s way too dangerous to keep it right now, and risking our teachers’ lives, our family’s lives, and even our lives is not worth it.”
Senior Vincent Fong echoed this idea in an email interview, saying, “It's all a bit of a mood killer. At the same time, it's all understandable… people are dying out there, we have to do our part and obey social distancing, try to make the best of our situation, and try to enjoy high school life virtually."
Senior Corrine Pita agreed, saying in an email interview, “It sucks not being able to have experiences we were promised since childhood, but this is no ordinary year, and we can't risk lives just to have one experience. Yes, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but there are so many other things we have to look forward to. [We] shouldn't ponder on what we won't get but [on] what us seniors have already been given: the end of [four] hard years of high school and an awaiting college experience.”
One of the biggest losses for seniors this year is the lack of the feeling of closure that senior year brings. Second semester senior year feels like the last hurrah of the grade, the time when students get to end their high school careers and finish that chapter of their lives with a good ending. “I feel like we are robbed of the closure that we would get in the second term, which is important mentally to be able to move on, and that’s really difficult,” Nobert said.
Senior year is also a time of reflection on both one’s high school experience and life thus far. Nobert put it, “This is a transition, which is a lot. You’re going to be moving out of your house if that is possible when quarantine lifts. College is a different experience, sort of like the end of your childhood.”
Senior and SU President Vishwaa Sofat also finds graduation meaningful: “A normal graduation is usually the end of your high school [career], so you’re reflecting on that, but […] we’ve been in school for [four] years now. [What] exactly has that been for you, meant for you, and how has that exactly shaped you? We have to remember our days of Stuyvesant throughout our life, whether it is the work ethic that we developed, or it’s the friendships or any sort of skill or trait [we] learned.”
Though there are bigger events like graduation and prom to consider, there are also the smaller things that seniors are going to miss out on. Juray regrets not being able to say complete goodbyes to teachers and friends: “Just saying goodbye to teachers, saying goodbye to friends, walking through the halls the last couple of times.”
Wang echoed, “This is the best time to go and hang out with your friends, you know. Cut a couple [of] classes, go to Chinatown, and get dim sum or something. Not [going to] lie, that was on my checklist, and that’s not gonna happen.”
It’s the microscopic memories too: “I've had a Roma Bagel from Ferry’s for the last time,” Pita said. “That was a delicious sandwich.”
Through all this chaos and change, many seniors have tried to find a form of a silver lining. Wang found that quarantine gives her a chance to prepare for her future. “I definitely feel like I’m ready for college life now because I think I have a decent handle [on] the self-discipline it takes to […] monitor yourself, get your sleep in, get all your work done, [and] not waste your life away,” she explained.
For Nobert, the quarantine has been an opportunity to hone in on her creative side. She said, “I’m currently making a prom dress even though we’re not going to have prom because that was sort of like this crazy idea I had months ago, and now I have time to do it with old curtains that I can use, and that’s been fun.”
The quarantine has also helped Juray appreciate the Stuyvesant faculty more: “It made me realize how amazing my teachers are. I would think that in Stuyvesant, they [were] going to give the same amount of work, but my teachers have been really understanding, and they reach out all the time asking if I need help, and they’re always here for us.”
Sofat also commends the faculty and their response to this situation: “[Principal Eric Contreras] has taken our concerns to our teachers, and he’s brought us back feedback from teachers, and those sort of things show that students matter in our school […] I think as a senior, it’s nice to know that our voice is being heard as we leave and that we left some lasting impact in this school.”
Overall, this year’s end-of-year senior festivities have been subpar. People were expecting senior year to be a better experience. “Second-semester senior [year] is that moment where [after] all the hard work and the stress, all-nighters, and breakdowns Stuy has thrown your way, you’ve endured. It’s your moment to sort of feel liberated, feel celebrated, and feel like you’ve accomplished something,” Sofat said. “[Yesterday,] a friend of mine was saying [that] senior year sort of ended on a weird note, a low note, and that’s not what you want your last memory at Stuyvesant [to be]. You want to end on a high note [at the end of every journey], and I think we haven’t felt that this was the high note that any of us had hoped for and worked very hard to get to.”