How Seniors Are Making Up For Lost Events

Eileen Lincoln, Staff Writer

Class of 2020, the world has changed. You will determine how we rebuild, and I ask that you make your community your priority”

— LeBron James

A little over a month ago, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia ordered that K-12 schools be shut down for the duration of the year, as a necessary step in improvement towards the coronavirus pandemic. Students all around the state were upset by this news: never being able to say goodbye to their friends and teachers, and missing many important events that were scheduled to take place later in the year. However, this news specifically affected one group of individuals, the senior class, who were not able to fully experience their final months of high school.

 While seniors around the country may realize the loss of some events, such as prom or a proper graduation ceremony, are a small price to pay for the lasting effects on this globalwide disease, it is difficult to not feel discouraged. For many individuals, school has something that has defined their life from the day they entered kindergarten. Yet, with this coronavirus, they found themselves instantly deprived of some of the potentially most important milestones in their entire life. While a large graduation ceremony or a fun prom night with a bunch of friends may not seem like that big of a sacrifice to make, it symbolizes all of the hard work these seniors have put in for the past twelve years, by being able to celebrate and spend time with some of their some of the closest individuals in their lives . After the school cancellation and recent updates about the virus, they have found events they have looked forward to throughout the entire year – and even their first year on a college campus – in jeopardy.

However, there are ways in which many organizations and companies are trying to compensate for these events the seniors have lost. From former president Barack Obama giving a speech on NBC to Tik Tok hosting a virtual prom, there are many ways in which people all around the world are able to connect with one another and feel sympathy for each other during this difficult time.

One example of this occurred on May 16th, where celebrities, activists, artists and students from all around the country joined together in a widely broadcasted ceremony to celebrate the class of 2020. The program, called Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, carried an overall message of building communities, even while everyone is forced to be separated at this time. It included many important figures such as Megan Rapinoe, Malala Yousafzai, Dua Lipa, Zendaya, and the Jonas Brothers, and even featured commencement speeches from Barack Obama and LeBron James. 

Many significant quotes and speeches arose from the night, such as Barack Obama giving insight into how important graduation truly is. “Graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances,” he stated. “Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way.” Additionally, he suggested how the virus will force everyone to grow up a little faster, especially the senior class, and how “when everything’s up for grabs, this is your generation’s world to shape.” LeBron James later adds onto this idea of being able to create lasting change in communities. “Class of 2020, the world has changed. You will determine how we rebuild, and I ask that you make your community your priority,” he says. The full program is available on graduatetogether2020.com as well as on NBC’s website.

Graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances”

— Barack Obama

Along with graduation, many people have been finding ways to celebrate prom as well. From even just dressing up and having a photoshoot in the backyard, gathering a group of friends to have a Zoom call with, to even logging on and playing Club Penguin, teenagers around the country are finding innovative ways to make up for the lost event. One example of this was organized by the popular app Tik Tok, who hosted a virtual prom a few weeks ago. Throughout the entire week they suggested hashtags such as #PromLook and #PromPlaylist as well as featured popular creators with prom-related videos. On April 25th, the DJ Diplo hosted a live set, and users were able to suggest songs throughout the night.

Another virtual prom is scheduled for May 22nd, hosted by former first lady Michelle Obama in partnership with MTV. The program is in collaboration with When We All Vote, a non-profit organization focused on increasing voter participation for upcoming elections. 20 high school students around the country were selected for the “Prom-athon,” which will include original content from the winners, prom-themed movies, and a prom celebration featuring surprise guests and live performances.

Many individuals around the country have mixed opinions about these events, suggesting how watching an hour long program on the TV or scrolling through TikTok for a few hours is not nearly the same as attending graduation or going to prom. While there is currently no way to fully celebrate these events, virtual programs such as these allow for seniors around the country to feel a little bit less alone. Although it may not be as exciting as the initially scheduled celebrations, it still allows seniors to be able to see others around the world by spreading positivity amidst this hard time and confide in others who feel disappointed by the mutual loss of these events.