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'You Lose Being Able To Say Goodbye': How Students Are Documenting Life During Coronavirus Shutdown

A screen shot of the page in the student newspaper
Seminole High School
Extra pages are being added to the yearbook at Seminole HIgh School, to document what students missed out on when coronavirus shut down school in mid-March, 2020

Coronavirus brought schools to a halt in March, two months before the end of the year and dashing plans for prom and graduation.

Students at Seminole High School are documenting the effect of coronavirus on their lives and the absences they've endured, through poetry, pictures, and a special supplement to the yearbook.

“I've been collecting poems and pictures that kids in the creative writing class have been writing to help express how they've been affected by it,” said Kasidy Goler, 17, the editor-in-chief of the school's literary magazine, Standing Room Only.

“I wrote a poem for the magazine. And that was a good way for me to get out the emotion that I was feeling. It's called ‘Losing Your Senior Year.’”

Young woman types on computer with cat in her lap
Credit Seminole High School
Kasidy Goler is editor of the school literary magazine, Standing Room Only.

Losing your senior year hurts more than you would expect.
You lose so much more than just the level surface events like prom and graduation.
You lose getting to sign yearbooks, you lose the last day of high school.
You lose your last day with your friends.
You lose being able to say goodbye to the teachers you have grown to love the teachers who have helped you figure it out who you are and who you want to be the teachers who made such an impact on not only your education but your life.
The teachers you didn’t get a chance to thank because you realized too late.
Losing your senior goes so much deeper than anyone would think. Losing your senior year seems like a bad dream but for us it has become a reality.

For Tori Foltz, 16, editor in chief of the Hawk Talk newspaper at Seminole High School, school's abrupt ending was tough.

“I really, really miss school. I'm the type of person that likes school. So it's just been really difficult for me specifically because I miss my teachers, I miss my friends, I miss actually being like physically in the classroom.

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“I just wish we could go back to normal. I've been writing about what life was like before.

“It sounds so silly. I wrote like a day at school, like how I would go throughout my day. I would usually wake up at like 6:30 am. And I need to get to school, the first bell rings at 7:25 am. So I'll get to school and my best friend would always ask me why I'm so late. And I would go to first period, which was AP U.S. history. And it was actually one of my favorite classes even though history hasn't really been my favorite.

Girl in gray T-shirt types at computer at home
Credit Seminole High School
Tori Foltz is editor of Seminole High School's Hawk Talk newspaper.

“I hope everyone realizes that we overcame this together, not as one person, we had to come together to go through this. And I think that's really important to remember as we go on through time.

“I hope that people have more empathy, and are kinder after this because of everything we've gone through together, but I just don't know if that's going to happen.”

Lena Conway, 17, is the yearbook editor. 

“I'm grateful for the 28-page supplement that we're making, which is an extension to the yearbook, because it really shows students like, hey, we don't know when this is going to ever happen again. So maybe we should value our time with our friends more.

“Some common themes are students trying to explore more of their creative side. I see people going out and doing schoolwork or trying a new game or just trying something new in their lives. I think it's really nice that they're finally like, trying to reach out. I guess they're so bored!

Brown haired girl looks at newspaper by computer
Credit Seminole High School
Lena Conway is yearbook editor at Seminole High School.

“I feel more in tune with things. Like, if this ever happens again, I know what to do. I know what my hobbies are.

"Before I didn't really know what I liked outside of school. So if I need to, especially in the summer, when I don't have school, I can adjust more. I can survive with boredom.”

This story is produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.