Photo by Francis Caro
When Cathedral Catholic High School student Lewis Barnum ‘20 heard the final baseball season of his high school career as an infielder was canceled, he broke down in tears of disappointment and frustration.
“The minute I found out, I just started crying,” Barnum said. “All my teammates came over and hugged me and tried to cheer me up. Something can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. There are so many things I wish I would’ve done, but now that’s not possible.”
Barnum, along with approximately 450 CCHS seniors, mourns his inability to experience fully his final semester of high school.
With COVID-19 causing CCHS administration to transition school to an online platform and cancel spring sports, the spring musical, and the Senior Boat Dance, CCHS seniors are trying to cope with constant event cancellations and a new reality of social isolation during a time when they should be celebrating collegiate achievements and making final memories with friends.
“It is so disheartening that the class of 2020 will most likely miss all of the sentimental experiences that we have been looking forward to for four years,” CCHS student Cecilia Bacich ‘20 said. “But despite this, I am really trying to keep a thankful mindset, because self quarantine has done a great job at showing me the experiences and people I take for granted.”
While COVID-19 continues to impact them, seniors are finding new ways of adapting to the academic, social, athletic, and spiritual restrictions of the quarantine. Creating schedules to keep up with college and school deadlines and utilizing Google Meet to video chat with teachers, classmates, and counselors, seniors are staying united with the CCHS community.
“I feel as if the lines between school and home and week and weekend have been totally blurred,” Bacich said. “I’m trying to establish boundaries and implement some structure into my life that I used to have. I have a daily schedule with my school work, and I also add at least one thing I want to learn or do that is exciting and fun.”
Academic organizations, including the CCHS chapter of the National Honor Society, are also organizing projects to help CCHS underclassmen adapt to online learning, and to provide relief for local health workers.
Current NHS projects include letter writing to pen-pals in Mexico, which NHS members can participate in remotely by writing letters at home, along with video game tournaments, online tutoring, and making masks to donate to San Diego hospitals.
“We are still trying as an organization to remain active,” NHS President Taber Ball ‘20 said. “I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish during this time of great need.”
Additionally, to track each other’s college acceptances and commitments, seniors created a group Facebook page, CCHS Class of 2020 College Updates, in an effort to keep students connected and informed.
“I created the Facebook group because I was curious to hear where everyone was going, and I thought it would be a great way to keep the class of 2020 connected despite being apart,” CCHS student Devin Giorgetta ‘20 said.
However, while they adapted smoothly to the online learning platform, many seniors are worried about the cancelation of major events including prom, graduation at the University of San Diego, and the senior class trip to Disney California Adventure Park, which are scheduled to take place in May, although CCHS administration has not officially announced the cancelation of these events.
At this time, CCHS administrators are organizing a student survey, a small student committee, and a senior parent committee to brainstorm ideas for senior events.
“It’s frustrating to miss out on events like senior prom that I’ve been excited about since freshman year,” CCHS student Emma Caringella ‘20 said. “I already bought a prom dress, so I’m going to have to figure out what to do with it. I hope there’s some way for us to still have these events even if they will take place over the summer or virtually.”
To lessen senior concerns, the CCHS Associated Student Body is continuing to spread school spirit virtually.
“These fun events are so hard to miss, but they are a drop in the bucket of all the wonderful memories and experiences the class of 2020 has had while attending CCHS,” ASB moderator Mrs. Sara Rhodes said. “I am confident that groups of friends will make the most of their summer together before they head off to college and will appreciate even the simplest times together after weathering the COVID-19 storm.
“I think our seniors will be a unique group of young adults in the world who won’t take things for granted. Even now, with the Zoom calls, the snapchats, and the Google Meets, I can tell they all are truly enjoying seeing each other’s faces and interacting in the smallest ways.”
For seniors involved in spring sports and other athletic activities, the quarantine presents the challenge of staying in shape without normal practice schedules and gym access.
“I’ve been staying strong by working out at my friends gym and taking swings in my net in the backyard,” Barnum said. “I’ve just been trying to do everything I can to stay healthy but continue to work on my skills.”
Senior student athletes are also expressing sadness about missing last games with their teammates and senior night, which celebrates the senior members of each sports team.
“We are discussing our senior athletes and how to best honor them, but we don’t want to start a social media effort there until we get word about returning to campus in May,” Mrs. Rhodes said. “Our fingers are crossed that this is still an option.”
Moreover, with Masses canceled nationwide, CCHS seniors are struggling to remain faithful when unable to receive communion and attend Mass with family members.
“I know it’s not the same, but there are Masses being live-streamed and TV Masses on YouTube that are useful and provide a way to unite our intentions with the rest of the Church,” CCHS student Maya Redington ‘20 said. “I want to say to anyone struggling with their faith that that’s okay, there’s always going to be rough times in our faith journey.
“I like to think that even having a desire to get closer to God makes Him happy.”
Although missing monumental moments in their senior year, the class of 2020 continues to be resilient in the face of the virus and the challenges it brings them as they look toward the future.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience is to never take anything for granted and always appreciate everything you have while you have it,” Barnum said. “I’ve made so many great friends and relationships that will last a lifetime.”
This story was originally published on El Cid on April 8, 2020.