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“It’s not easy trying to complete all of this work due to small inconveniences such as the Wi-FI cutting out, a lesson not pulling up, or the assignment not being submitted because of technical issues,” Langston High School senior Lauren Guildford tells VOX ATL.

Illustratin by George Simmons

What COVID-19 Looks Like to Atlanta High School Seniors

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Being a senior in high school is a big part of many teenagers’ lives. It’s the last school year where our anxiety drops and excitement rises as we prepare for the real world. It’s the fourth and final year of high school where you hang out with your closest friends, see the teachers who have impacted your life and witnessed your growth as a young adult. It’s the year when you participate in senior activities to create lifelong memories you will remember forever and even attend prom, one of the biggest events of senior year for everyone to dress out and enjoy.

As the school year slowly came toward an end, the Class of 2020 became more and more anxious waiting for their exuberant senior year experience like previous classes, but the unexpected COVID-19 virus made its way to America, changing everyone’s lives. Soon after, the United States declared us in a state of emergency, and we are all being self-quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus.

Here’s some examples of students and teachers at Banneker High School working at home during the COVID-19 Quarantine:
(Left To Right)
Aaliyah Bates (18), George Simmons (18), Xavier Shankle (17), Charnetta Hand (17), Jeremiah Dotson (18), Cameron Ross (18), Jaylin Hudson (17), Connie Moran (Teacher), Saniya Gooden (17), Osiris Zelaya (17)


Now, what does this mean for high school seniors?

Although efforts to get the virus under control continue, the future feels extremely unclear, giving students a sense of loss, confusion, and disappointment.

Langston High School senior Lauren Guildford tells VOX ATL, “The stress of it all is nerve-racking. I can’t even explain which is the worst part.”

We have been working toward this graduation and this senior year experience for 12 or more years. And now it appears it will all go down the drain. With the spread of COVID-19, it feels like our time and efforts were wasted. This microscopic virus has virtually ruined the senior year experience for everyone and has left seniors with their head down, sighing with sadness.

North Cobb High School senior Nia-Simone Sherwood completes coursework at home during quarantine (photo courtesy of Sherwood)

Students’ morale is slowly being drained every day as they are cooped in their homes while being bombarded with online work and virtual classes.

“It’s not easy trying to complete all of this work due to small inconveniences such as the Wi-FI cutting out, a lesson not pulling up, or the assignment not being submitted because of technical issues,” adds Guildford.

It feels as if teachers are throwing busy work at seniors to increase our workload, which adds to the stress that we are already facing due to outstanding circumstances.

“We’re being forced to do busy work from all of our teachers, including P.E. teachers (in which students must record themselves working out and submit it to their teacher), in the security of my own home which is three times the workload we would receive on a regular school day,” Westlake High School senior Favour Adakosa said via text.

Banneker High School Saniya Gooden, 17, studies from her bedroom during quarantine (photo courtesy of Gooden)

There are already a handful of seniors who have spent hundreds of dollars this semester to make the best of their senior year. Whether it is money spent on graduation, senior activities, or prom, it all feels wasted.

“It’s really depressing because your senior year is the big finale of your whole high school career,” says Banneker High School senior Sean Darrisaw.

Your senior year is the highlight of high school: You go to outrageous parties with friends, you receive college acceptance letters from your top dream schools, attend college visits and then wrap it all up on your big day at graduation, but it feels like the Coronavirus has stripped us of all of that.

“The more things that shut down and the longer our quarantine extends, the sadness grows because I know I might not be able to enjoy my senior adventures and spend valuable time with my friends before we go our separate ways,” says Darrisaw.

Now, although the quarantine has felt like a prison sentence for many, it has also allowed others to find their inner creativity, catch up on rest, or even fall into a much-needed therapeutic mental break. There are a handful of people who have started working on something they love to do, rather than sitting and scrolling on social media all day. Whether it’s one of my friends learning their favorite instrument, someone breaking out their old sketch pad or even learning how to cook a simple meal, the options are endless.

Along with the rest of the world, high school seniors are in a sense of panic. We currently have no info on the status of our senior activities, grad night, prom or even graduation. We are being drowned out with work, causing unnecessary stress. We’re left to be cooped up in our home with nothing but our TV, laptop and phone screens to look at.

But, this self-quarantine period can also be a time for everyone to unlock their true inner mindset and learn something new about themselves. Although we are all cooped up in our homes trying to stay safe, that doesn’t mean we have to lie around dying of boredom. Everyone should use this time of isolation to help them grow and develop and learn things about yourself you would have never expected. 

Many of us were excited for our parents and others to see us walk across the graduation stage, but instead, we are left walking in the dark amidst a global pandemic.

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