“I had my last day of high school without even knowing,” Jenna Beesley, Hugoton High School and Seward County Community College concurrent student, said. This seemed to be the case for most students of the class of 2020.
March 23. The date was so close that students could hardly wait to go on spring break to go on a trip or just hang out with friends. A break from all the classwork and the early mornings were just what some of the antsy teens needed.
However, the deck was stacked. Life dealt many students an impossible hand to play with when COVID-19 was put on the table. Students wanted their break from the stress of school but most of them did not want their life to completely come to a screeching halt.
Especially high school seniors.
The last dance at prom, the last softball thrown in a game and the last steps down the gymnasium floor, leading to a stage was taken away from the concern of coronavirus and the shutdowns of schools around the nation. No one could foresee these annual events having to be rescheduled or even canceled.
For Hugoton High School, many seniors had to deal with not only the loss of spring activities but also the struggle of having college classes on top of the stress from moving online.
High school students who take regular classes to receive a high school diploma and are also taking college classes to get a head start on secondary education at a cheaper cost, are called concurrent students.
Mike Bailey, outreach director for Blendflex classes, is Seward County Community College’s connection with the high schools. He helps inform surrounding high schoolers about the classes that they can take early.
Bailey noted that his main role when the virus hit the United States was to contact the coordinators that were teaching the dual-credit classes to make sure the students knew about the
change and the support they had from the college.
“We know that each school district is unique and we appreciate that, so as the instructors were finishing plans to complete the semester, we were included,” Bailey added. He showed how connected the college is with their students, even if they are still in high school.
Bailey is hopeful that the seniors will take time to enjoy the many special and creative ways they have to celebrate the conclusion of their high school experience among the lost events.
“This is definitely a senior year you [seniors] won’t easily forget,” Bailey added. He was quick to praise the concurrent students for the extra responsibility they took on with college-level expectations given with the classes.
These students, according to Bailey, have been able to take advantage of the program through a crisis.
Being a senior in concurrent classes, Beesley was willing to talk about her situation rooting from the virus.
For Beesley, the worst part of the change to online format is not the difficulty of the classes but the downcast of losing prom and graduation. Eager for the prom, she had already bought her dress. Now it sits as a reminder of something that may never happen.
With Beesley working hard to receive a 4.0-grade point average, graduation was also an event that could not be replaced, with four years of preparation and already ordered graduation invites to the ceremony.
However, despite the negative Beesley stays optimistic.
“We could possibly have a prom of some sort and they will definitely give us graduation…,” Beesley said. She was quickly reminded of how other smaller events like senior tea, senior showcase, and the walking of the halls, where the seniors walk through every Hugoton school in their cap and gown, will not be rescheduled.
Thinking ahead, Beesley plans to attend Manhattan Christian College in the fall and is thankful to have taken Seward classes because of their benefiting price cut, reducing the cost of future schooling.
“I’m looking forward to being out of quarantine to make new memories at college,” Beesley stated surely, awaiting for the COVID-19 crisis to be over.
Madison Holt, another concurrent senior from Hugoton High School, was having a harder time with juggling high school classes and college classes. Throughout the whole year, Holt has managed to take 10 college classes through Seward while taking her high school credits.
“Not only do I have high school classes that I have to do but I also have to do my college classes and it’s hard not to fall behind,” Holt explains. She adds that it is helpful when teachers reach out like one of her college instructors and the Blendflex teachers at the high school.
Holt’s hardest loss from the coronavirus crisis would have to be graduation.
“I personally feel that I am not ready for college only because I did miss out on the rest of my senior year,” Holt added, still upset about the activities many others were allowed in the grades above.
Holt wanted to leave lasting advice for not only for her peers, but for seniors around the country by cautioning future seniors to not take anything for granted and to be involved in as many things possible to make memories.
These two students had the support from two separate schools, one being a college and the other a high school. Showing that amid a crisis students, come first whether what they are enrolled in, as long as they are involved.
The Hugoton Public Schools recently posted a remembrance of the students who lost their senior year.
“In honor of the class of 2020, we lit the football field for 20 minutes tonight. Seniors, go forth and be the light! #WeR210,” the post reads.
This story was originally published on The Crusader on April 27, 2020.