‘I just wanted to have a normal senior year’ — Stafford Co. students cross fingers

Walking into Stafford High School on the first day of the new school year, seniors Sara Foster and Jack Baumgartner were cautiously optimistic the coronavirus pandemic won’t dramatically affect their final year in the Virginia high school.

”I just wanted to have a normal senior year,” said Baumgartner, who said his brother lost out on typical 12th grade activities. “He was in the class of 2020, so he didn’t really have a prom or graduation, so I was just nervous that I was going to have the same experiences.”

Students in Stafford County, and all local jurisdictions are starting the school year in person, but Foster isn’t ready to celebrate.

“COVID’s not over yet, so I don’t think it’s all back to normal, but it’s nice to be able to get back into school,” Foster said.

Foster said the pandemic was a learning experience: “It taught me to be more careful. I’m definitely washing my hands more, and became a germaphobe because of it.”

She said she is hopeful her senior year will go smoothly, without senior activities being affected.

“I was worried at first, but since we had a prom last year, it seems like we’ll have a prom this year again. And I’m excited to be able to plan it,” she said.

Baumgartner has become more optimistic over time.

“I was nervous, like, what if something gets canceled. But I don’t think anything will, and it will be a nice smooth year,” Baumgartner said.

Asked if there were any silver linings from the pandemic, Baumgartner said he has become more flexible.

”Anything can happen, on the spot — tomorrow we could be back in a pandemic, who knows?”

Baumgartner said he’s learned to embrace the moment.

“We were stuck inside for so long, that it taught me it can get taken away in a minute, so just make the most of it.”

Stafford High School students are welcomed back on Aug. 10, 2022. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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