Senior year is supposed to be the time seniors celebrate their high school career and everything they've worked towards for the last four years.
This year's circumstances, unfortunately, make that a bit more difficult for the class of 2020 — the coronavirus pandemic has forced schools in Missouri to shut down through the remainder of the academic year. Students at California High School are feeling the affects and trying to take things in stride.
"Being a senior during this pandemic, in lack of better words, sucks," CHS senior Kendra Dunham said. "I take pride in doing my part, staying home and keeping others safe; however, the fact that I'm never going to get a true goodbye with high school really hurts. No matter how many kids say that they hate school and can't wait to get out, (we) still want those lasts. The last prom, last track meet, last baseball game, last FFA competition and last day of school. All of my emotions didn't hit me until they announced that every Friday the school was turning on the stadium lights in our honor. Then it truly hit me that I'm never going to get those treasured moments."
Though this year's seniors may be missing out on milestone events while the school is shut down, some say they're not going to let it affect them too much.
"Prom, graduation and DECA competitions are a few things I'll miss because of COVID-19," CHS senior Leo Potter said. "It sucks, but it's not like my high school career is over or anything. Worse things have happened in history and the best thing I can do is stay calm and work through it."
CHS senior Makayla Shanzmeyer and her friends have been looking forward to their senior year since the beginning of high school.
"It is very unfortunate for all of us seniors," Shanzmeyer said. "I know my friends and I have been looking forward to spring of our senior year for a long time. We have all worked very hard to make this year as perfect as possible, but what is happening in the world right now is out of anyone's control. The only thing we can do to help it is stay home, social distance and wash your hands."
Missing out on their senior year experience isn't the only thing they have to accept; Schanzmeyer said students also are having to quickly learn how to manage their school work at home.
"I was always that student who asked questions during class, so it has definitely been an adjustment not being able to do that," Shanzmeyer said. "Having all this time at home has actually helped me with my school work. I have always been a procrastinator, but now with this abundance of free time, I get my assignments done before they're due; it's been nice."
Some have even been looking on the bright side of living in this new normal and seeing how it may help them in the long run.
"All of my classes have been pretty great for me as a senior," CHS senior Allie Frank said. "I think it gives people who are maybe going to go to college online (to) help us see what it's going to look like."
With school work taking place at home, there's a lot of free time for the students that have been finishing things before their deadlines. Though they have all this extra time, they still can't spend it with their friends because they need to continue practicing social distancing. Frank said it's been a good chance to branch out.
"I think it's a good opportunity for us to learn something new," Frank said. "I learned how to play the ukulele and the guitar because I have a lot of free time so I've just been doing stuff that we weren't able to do, like tie-dye shirts or learn a new instrument."
Like Frank, Potter has also been finding ways to pass the time. He said the lack of face-to-face communication is one of the biggest contributors to the stir crazy feeling many others are likely feeling right now.
"COVID-19 has really affected how I interact with people," Potter said. "Although I use gaming and social media platforms to talk to people regularly, it just isn't the same. Talking through a screen versus talking face-to-face is a major difference, so much so that I feel like I'm getting cabin fever."
Even though these seniors may have lost their year, they're still trying to make the best of it — Dunham said staying positive has been key.
"I'm trying to remain positive though, and I encourage others to as well," Dunham said. "I stay busy and I stay in contact with my peers to make sure everyone is doing okay. Just today, I baked some cookies and took them to a few of my teachers for Easter. I understand that it's not just the students struggling right now, the teachers are as well. I keep telling myself that this won't last forever and to keep praying that everything will work out in the end. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's to never take anything for granted."