COVID-19 claims 2020 senior festivities

in News by
(Graphic/Joanne Haner)

The COVID-19 crisis continues its worldwide plunder, but seniors feel the effects on an extra-personal level. High school principal Mrs. Elise Blum sent a video update to the Class of 2020 Friday, April 10, in which she broke some news many were afraid to hear. 

In this article, learn about the status of each senior event.

Universal Studios Grad Bash (originally scheduled April 17-18): Given that Universal Studios officially cancelled all dates for the event back in March, there is no rescheduling for this annual activity. The school is currently working with the business office to credit accounts for students who purchased tickets.

Senior Breakfast (originally scheduled April 24): Since students cannot meet in the gym, WAHS is creating and sending out a video to the senior class. In an email administration sent out to all seniors, WAHS asked each student to submit a picture of themselves wearing a shirt from the college they plan to attend, just like what they would wear to senior breakfast. WAHS will then put the photos together and Mrs. Blum will send it out the morning of April 24. She recommends that parents make their children a special breakfast to recreate the experience as much as possible during this time. 

Pre-Professional Banquet (originally scheduled April 24): The annual Pre-Professional banquet, which is meant to honor seniors who have completed any of the school’s pre-professional tracks, is cancelled this year. Each program director will do an internal virtual ceremony recognizing each student. The school will mail home the medals each senior was meant to receive.

Senior Prom (originally scheduled May 1): The 2020 senior prom is cancelled. Because there are many factors that go into planning this event, it is very unlikely that the school will reschedule. Students who bought tickets will have their accounts credited.

Senior Carnival (originally scheduled May 8): Senior Carnival is cancelled for the current date. Depending on the progression of the current situation, Heritage could host the event over the summer. 

“It’s not that hard to pull off,” Mrs. Blum said. “It’s one company, and we ask if they can do it on this day, and then we just ask the seniors to come.”

Senior Dinner (originally scheduled May 14): The senior dinner at Signature Grand is cancelled. Administration will credit student accounts for previously purchased tickets. However, Mrs. Blum mentioned in the video that there would be a celebration like senior dinner. 

“Whether we do something in Signature Grand, or we do it in our gym, we will have a celebration of the class of 2020 when we are allowed to be together again,” Mrs. Blum said.

Senior Awards (originally scheduled May 15): Unless the CDC changes its current guidelines, this year’s senior awards are cancelled. Since the ceremony is not very large, and it is an on-campus, Heritage-run event, if the school is allowed to host the event, it is possible that they will. Regardless, recipients will still receive their respective awards. Each year at senior awards, administration gives each department head a budget to buy a gift for the student and accompanies the gift with a speech and explanation at the ceremony. In lieu of an in-person ceremony, teachers will record this message, which Mrs. Blum will send out to the recipient(s) May 15, and then mail home the gifts. 

“After graduation, the thing I’m saddest about is senior awards” Mrs. Blum said. “It is a really special night. It’s a very special and nice moment for the students receiving awards.”

In regards to community service recognition, administration is unsure as to how they will handle those awards since many students were not able to complete as many hours as they had planned due to the coronavirus. 

Graduation (originally scheduled May 16): In the video update Mrs. Blum sent last week, she explained how the current situation does not allow the school to host a ceremony of 4000 people at a traditional graduation. However, since May 16 is the official day the class of 2020 graduates, the administration felt it was important to do something on that day.

“I just don’t want to ignore May 16 and let it pass us by. I feel like it would be irresponsible for us to say ‘oh, we’ve changed graduation and it’s going to be July 16,’ because we don’t know if July 16 we’ll be able to hold a graduation,” Mrs. Blum said. “Like it or not, May 16 is the date of your graduation. It will go on your transcripts and on your diplomas. That is the day you will officially become a graduate of American Heritage School. We feel like it’s really important to recognize your achievements on that day.”

The current graduation program is completely virtual. Students will receive their caps and gowns in the mail prior to May 16, as well as their diploma cover. Students will receive their actual diplomas at some point over the summer, whether it be at a rescheduled senior event or at a drive through pickup. The same goes for yearbooks, graduation cords and class t-shirts.

“We’re not going to be able to do something well unless we start working on it now,” Mrs. Blum said. “We want to come up with a really nice program so that May 16 you’re not sitting there, wallowing in pity, thinking ‘this should have been my graduation day and instead I’m just sitting here.’”

Administration sent the senior class a save the date invitation for their upcoming virtual graduation ceremony yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Melanie Hoffman)

The digital program will include speeches as planned, including those from Mrs. Blum, valedictorian senior Arnav Kumar, salutatorian senior Carol Jiang and reflection speaker senior Joanne Haner. Because each honor society independently orders cords for graduation, seniors will not have cords for the May 16 program, but they will receive them at some point.

Another ceremony in the summer is possible, and preferred, if it is safe. 

“I am talking to the venue, and they do have dates in the summer, but they can’t book anything now,” Mrs. Blum said. “I certainly don’t want to promise that or give you guys some sort of false hope and a date, because it might not happen. We’ll work with whatever the guidelines say. We’re open to any ideas.”

While class of 2020 can hold out hope, it all depends on how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. Until then, all we can do it practice social distancing and help flatten the curve.

Joanne is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. As a third-year staffer and second-year editor-in-chief, she loves immersing herself in the journalistic field and writing for her publications. Outside of newspaper, Joanne is also co-president of the English Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, where she also serves as the student delegate state secretary. Among the other clubs she is a part of, Joanne is also secretary of the linguistics team and Chinese Honor Society, as well as treasurer for Quill and Scroll. In her free time, Joanne loves practicing her photography and going to concerts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.