Assembly Moderators Lauren Smith’20 and Mathew Krelitz’20 prepare to announce senior speeches. Students can still view senior speeches every Monday and Wednesday.

Abrupt End to Senior Year Allows Opportunity to Reflect

Quarantine exemplifies the importance to make the best of an unfortunate situation

     I don’t think anyone expected the year to end like this. Between the last day of school before spring break and the day we found out school for the foreseeable future would be online, the world slowly descended into isolation. While uncertainty had plagued our last real day of school, nothing could have prepared anyone for the lockdown of the world. Everything came to a screeching halt, and in one fell swoop, fourth quarter of senior year was gone. No senior spring break, no commencement, and for me, not even a real senior speech.  

     When you expect things to be one way for years, only for them to be gently replaced with a depersonalized, online substitute, it is painful. And yet, as we all sit in our homes isolated from our friends, teachers, peers, and virtually everyone else, it is necessary that we not only confront that internal anguish, but examine, understand, and embrace what makes us carry on through difficult experiences. 

     I had always dreaded giving my senior speech. While on some level I enjoyed researching my topic and writing my speech, public speaking makes me nervous like nothing else. Even when I would practice my speech in front of five to ten people during class, I would get nervous. Despite this, I was still devastated upon learning my speech would have to be given through the vacuum of Zoom. I felt like I was cheating graduation by skipping a ritual every senior goes through, a pitiful cop-out. I had similar thoughts about commencement and senior spring break: there would be no satisfying conclusion to senior year like I had always expected, no time with friends, no senior run. Everything was over.

     For the first two weeks, I let such thoughts eat away at me. I stopped sleeping well and I didn’t want to do school work. I had given into my negative thoughts, which ravaged my mind. I have always depended on thinking my way out of problems, but there was no solution to this problem. No matter how much I thought or looked at the facts of the situation, nothing changed. I was stuck in the same situation as before, only having wasted my time trying to logic something that can’t be logicized. 

     Eventually, I realized that I needed to look elsewhere to find my answer. While COVID-19 exists in scientific models and statistics, quarantine depends on the psyche and spirit. My perspective on the situation gradually began to change. I began trying to understand on an emotional level what missing important senior moments meant to me. I decided to confront my feelings on the issue head on with this new perspective. Instead of accepting the year as lost, I realized that the situation itself was not the problem, but rather my attitude towards it. 

     Previously, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of giving my speech online, and I would be lying if I said it was anything like speaking in the JNA. But it doesn’t matter. I had new challenges to overcome and difficulties to triumph. As old plans closed, new possibilities were opened: I was operating in a completely different framework than before. I had transformed the enervating void of quarantine into a space of new possibilities and outcomes. 

     Nobody knows what is next for the world. Some say it will take years to recover, and others think we can start reopening the world by next month. The only path forward is to confront what lies within us. By doing so, we will all be far better equipped to handle whatever the future may hold.

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