MASH seniors face the road ahead

Ryan Neely, Reporter

Remember March 13th? The last day of school? You probably do, to some extent. For reference, it was a week after our school’s production of Les Mis (which, as others have pointed out, we were very lucky to have had in time). There was lots of chatter in every single classroom about whether or not we would be getting out and all of the states that already did shut down schools (which, at that point, was only supposed to last two weeks). I distinctly remember one person asking me if I thought we would still have school the next week. My answer? “Probably.”

Unfortunately, when news breaks of a virus devastating communities in another country, or even our own, our automatic reaction is to dismiss it, even joke about it. We think we have a magical shield that protects us from whatever is going on in the news, that we can just tune it out and just live our lives as if all of it doesn’t even exist. Most of the time we can. Now we can’t.

For MASH seniors, this crisis is coming at a particularly inopportune time. As much as the district is trying to pull things together so that we can have as normal of a graduation experience as possible, the bottom line is that we’re never going to have the sendoff that we all pictured back in August. As we walked out of school, unbeknownst to us, for the last time, we never even thought about saying goodbye.

I noticed some people celebrating when it was first announced that school was closing down for two weeks. To them, it was just an extra break, a “coronacation”. At that time, after all, people weren’t aware that this pandemic would have a death toll of over 300 thousand worldwide and that the entire rest of the world would be shutting down along with the schools. As time went on, putting a positive spin on these events became increasingly ludicrous, as well as, quite frankly, offensive. 

Perhaps, at some level, it was a defense mechanism the whole time. We like to talk about school as if it’s something that we don’t need, but deep down (especially as we reach this age), we know that there is value in it. We need the knowledge we gain in order to succeed in our careers. We need the connections we build in order to maintain a functioning social life. But, in a more abstract sense, we need a routine to keep us working towards something new every day. Learning at home can replicate some of these things, but humans just aren’t built to interact with each other digitally, which really begins to show when it becomes all that we can do, and that’s to say nothing of the hurdles that some have to jump through to even access the internet.

It’s okay to be upset. We had plans that never came to fruition. We had opportunities taken from us that will never return. But let’s not get lost in self-pity. High school had to end for us at some point, and we just had the rug pulled out from under us a bit early. We don’t have to forget or ignore what happened, but we do have to move on at some point.

There are some people in the world who say that high school was the high point of their lives. Hopefully that’s just nostalgia speaking. Nobody enjoys lacking the freedom of being an adult. We have better days ahead of us.

Unfortunately, we still have no idea when our pandemic problems are going to end. This uncertainty has agonized us from the very beginning. Right now, our summer prospects aren’t looking great, and those of us who are going to college don’t even know if we’ll be able to go on campus, or, if we are, how our experiences will change. 

Our experiences through the summer and beyond are going to be the result of many difficult trade-offs made by leaders at many different levels. We may be frustrated (rightfully) at the results of these decisions, but it’s important to recognize what is at stake here, both in terms of the massive costs of these lockdowns, as well as the number of lives saved by them. It’s also important to recognize that our path towards reopening may not necessarily be linear. Long-term projections seem to indicate that our troubles are far from over.

It’s difficult for me to say anything about this ongoing struggle that hasn’t already been said, but if I were to give one piece of advice to the rest of you, it would be to avoid, to quote the title of a U2 song, becoming “stuck in a moment you can’t get out of”. Experts are hard at work finding solutions to this pandemic, and we can do our part by staying safe and continuing to work around the complications that arise.