As countries all over the world are battling a global pandemic, Westlake High School finds itself in the very same struggle. On Thursday, April 20th, Ohio Governor Mike Dewine announced that school will remain closed to the end of the school. Everything- extracurricular activities, classes, Prom, and Commencement- have all been impacted from the way we have once known it. The prospect of a “traditional” graduation ceremony and Prom is becoming more uncertain. These unprecedented times have called for extreme measures for us to adapt and change.
“ Virtual commencement almost sounds more convenient in a way but I would feel a little bit robbed of a really great experience. High school graduation is a pretty big milestone and it should be a ceremony like it usually is. If we end up not being able to do Prom, that would be pretty tragic,” says Luca Della Vella, a high school senior at WHS.
Others at WHS are looking for ways to stay hopeful and positive. Regardless of the changes, commencement should still be a huge celebration. Allison Hook, a senior at WHS, says “I understand that given the circumstances, we need to be open-minded. If we have online commencement, I know that the seniors at Westlake will still make the most of it!”
Prom, too, is also one of the activities that many seniors look forward to ending their high school journey. Luca Della Vella shares the same sentiment, stating “I know that I have been excited for prom all year so I’m still keeping my fingers crossed!”
Others also agree. “Not having prom and graduation sucks, but [ no matter what] it’s a story to tell. I’d hate to have spent a lot on a cap and gown though,” says Richard Garber, a high school senior.
As the new normal starts to settle in, some WHS students believe that social distancing may even continue on longer than we may even expect.
“I think school will be back in August, possibly January. Just as school was among the first things to close, I believe it will be one of the last to open. I think the school closure is right, as it’s a small thing for as much as a 5% decrease in mortality rate,” says Richard Garber, a high school senior at WHS. Nick Gaunter also agrees, stating “ I think that [is] the best solution. I think it is right.”
As countries like China are restoring life back to normal, students at WHS are fighting for hope to end the COVID-19 outbreak. Our experience of interacting with each other has certainly changed. Since the beginning of social distancing 5 weeks ago, many are wondering when the next time they would be able to see teachers, classmates, and faculty in person.
“I have never been more upset… because I won’t be in Westlake next year. I’m losing my time to make memories. I’m just gonna miss everyone. I’m missing out with my friends, studying after school, walking through the school, and going to all of my classes,” says Mia Jeter, a high school senior at Westlake High School.
This unexpected change is slowly becoming a reality, a concept that is so hard to grasp. Luca Dell Vella says, “the possibility that we might miss our last days of high school ever doesn’t even seem real”
“I will miss seeing all of my friends and teachers at school,” says Jake Collins, a senior at WHS.
Despite all the thoughts on graduating, school is still continuing on through an online platform. The way we have learned and interacted in class has been implemented through services like Google Meet and Zoom. Many students are still striving to still read and learn. Others are taking advantage of the extra time to find new interests and passions.
“I am taking 17 APs, all of which are still happening. As such, a lot of my time is spent studying. Beyond this, I’m editing a virtual “concert” (just one song) for the band. I am also still working at my job, though at home and fewer hours. Allyson’s [my job company] may be launching a few new websites soon. I also like walking in the park a lot more, though due to more people at home, on nice days it is hard social distance,” says Richard Garber.
Others, too, are finding new opportunities to relax and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Allison Hook says “as time passed I found myself getting to enjoy this time spending it on things I’ve always wanted to do. I take my dog to different parks every week. I can practice painting for my class. I even find myself getting more exercise outside.”
“ To me, [this situation] is not dystopian. I must say that I wish that more was being done to prepare for this disease being commonplace,” says Richard Garber.
These new measures have certainly created stress and anxiety. Change has often brought discomfort. However, it is a reality that eventually students and the community of Westlake will eventually overcome these difficulties.