There’s a certain swagger that comes with the first day of senior year at high school — but the coronavirus pandemic means those starting classes Monday are in for an experience unlike any had by generations of students before them.
“In the past I’ve always seen the people in grades above me do all their, like, ‘last first day pictures,’ and like, you know, new outfits for the first day of school,” said Jake New, a senior at Bowie High School. “For us it’s just, schools in our living room, you know? It’ll definitely be weird.”
Milestones like Monday will be the first of many moments seniors around the D.C. region will be missing this year. With Prince George’s County Public Schools doing virtual learning for its entire first semester, New said he hasn’t taken his senior pictures yet, and he feels like something will be “missing” with no fall football games, spirit week or senior homecoming.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot harder not being able to see or hang out with my friends at school,” said New, who said that participating in the school choir and other clubs will also be “a lot harder to do … and enjoy.”
“Those are my best friends, so it’s going to be harder not seeing them in person and hanging out,” he conceded.
But New is also looking for the silver lining in the situation. For a teenager, doing your work from home can have its advantages.
“You can be on a couch or even in bed as opposed to sitting up at a desk,” said New. “Instead of having to get up early to catch a bus, you can just walk downstairs, and it definitely feels like there’s a bit less pressure because everything is kind of on your terms even though there’s a set schedule.”
For now, New is hopeful that he’ll be able to return to a physical classroom when the spring semester begins this February. He’d like to be back and in-person — provided it’s safe to do so — and also play one more season on the tennis team.
But he also admitted he doesn’t expect that to happen.
“Probably not, honestly, which is a bummer,” said New. “I think we’ll be virtual for the whole senior year, and then I think they’re going to end up trying to make things up for seniors.”
Nevertheless, New tried to keep looking at the positives and the possibilities that await him.
“It’s the first day of senior year, so whether it’s at home or at school, it’s still a big day,” he said. “With it being senior year, it’s the first day that’s going to accelerate into the rest of my life.”
And it all begins in his living room.
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