By Jack Peeples/The Broadside
High school graduation can be a big deal for students and their parents. The chance to watch a valedictorian and a salutatorian present a hilarious speech is the highlight of some students’ experiences at the event. Students are rewarded for all their hard work and it can be incredible to see. However, with the recent outbreak of COVID-19, graduation looks different than usual for Deschutes County high schools and high schools all over the country.
Many seniors find it hard that graduation is going virtual, as it is not the same experience. Classes went remote in March for Deschutes County high schools and assignments ended for some seniors in April as there was no more work for the students to complete. Seniors have essentially graduated and are just counting down the days until their virtual graduation takes place.
“For the times that I did [remote learning], I didn’t enjoy it. For me personally, I need to be in a classroom environment rather than online,” said Mountain View High School senior Tyler Beelar.
Beelar is a member of the jazz choir and concert choir at Mountain View High School. These activities that Beelar was a part of for three years were diminished by remote learning, as there is no vocal practice involved. Beelar was planning on attending Southern Oregon University to study performing arts, but then decided to take a gap year before the pandemic had reached the United States.
“It is definitely bittersweet because it is graduation. It is nice to look back and know that I did enjoy my time in high school,” said Beelar.
Some high school seniors just see this as a time for self-reflection, even though participation in senior events is now relatively impossible. What students really appreciate is the effort teachers and staff go through to ensure that seniors are remembered. For some students, high school has been an average experience and they may not view it as a big deal.
“Seeing as how graduation is virtual and not a giant party, I’ll look back on it as alright. Personally, I would’ve liked to have been with my friends when we all graduated,” said Bend High School senior Tristan Catanzaro.
Catanzaro was on the Bend High lacrosse team during his time at the school. However, he decided not play lacrosse during the 2019-2020 school year for personal reasons. Catanzaro plans on attending Central Oregon Community College in the fall with high hopes that the campus will be open.
“If campus opens next year, I won’t be completely lost because I am looking forward to going,” said Catanzaro.
High school seniors view the crisis as a major roadblock of every moment from 2016 leading up to 2020. All the growth and accomplishments the class of 2020 had to go through are still there, but the end result is different. What some students may be looking forward to is what this memory of graduation will look like decades from now.
“I look forward to telling my kids or my nieces and nephews that I graduated online,” said Bend High School senior Alyssa Hull.
Hull was a member of the Cross Cultures Club at Bend Senior High School. However, the outbreak caused all of the club’s events to be cancelled. Hull plans on attending Western Oregon University in the fall to study psychology and art. Hull has remained positive about the whole situation, though she will still have a twinge of sadness when thinking of this end to a chapter of her high school story.
“I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get a normal graduation. Everything that makes senior year eventful is gone,” said Hull.
Even if many events the class of 2020 were looking forward to have been cancelled, there are still fun events gleaming in the future. In times where a virus seems to give people less to look forward to, these seniors are staying positive while looking forward. Making new memories and celebrating long-awaited accomplishments gives hope to this generation of scholars. Someday, when this outbreak is just a memory in history, the senior class of 2020 may look back and remember their senior year as one of the most interesting times in their lives.