East students from all different grades share their perspectives on the closure of school

Students+from+all+different+grades+have+different+perspectives+on+the+closure+of+East.

Alexa Atlas ('22)

Students from all different grades have different perspectives on the closure of East.

By Alexa Atlas, Cherry Hill High School East

A year ago, if someone told you that you would not have to attend in-person classes, you would be able to sleep in as late as you wanted every morning and you would be able to do whatever you wanted every day, you would be over the moon. As a matter of fact, most students were thrilled when they first found out East would be closed for two weeks. However, what we didn’t know was that two short weeks would turn into the end of the school year.

On May 4, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy declared the closure of all schools in the state of New Jersey. This meant that the 2019-2020 East school year was officially over. This was heart-shattering news to many. No one thought the school year would end this way. Whoever would’ve thought a global pandemic would practically shut down the world? East students from different grades all feel differently about the closure of schools for the 2019-2020 school year. Each grade is missing out on something completely different than the next.

East senior, Jacob Holland (‘20), said, “I am extremely upset about the school year coming to an end. I was really looking forward to making [my] last few high school memories with the people that I have grown up with during the best part of the year. It breaks my heart that I was unable to go on the senior trip, go to prom, participate in assassin and the worst of all: saying I wasn’t able to graduate.”

The cancellation of schools is upsetting news to all but is definitely the most unsettling for the seniors. East seniors will never get to experience all the fun senior events that they have been looking forward to for years.

Sussanah Balderstone (‘20) said, “I feel like I am missing out on the fun part of senior year.”

I am upset about missing out on graduation and senior trip. Those were the things I was looking forward to since I was in elementary school and I am sure that many others can relate. To say that I was the only class to not have those memorable events is truly devastating.”

— Jacob Holland ('20)

Holland agrees, as he said, “I am upset about missing out on graduation and senior trip. Those were the things I was looking forward to since I was in elementary school and I am sure that many others can relate. To say that I was the only class to not have those memorable events is truly devastating.”

Many East seniors feel just as distraught as Holland. Not only will Easts seniors not be able to experience these memorable events, but they will also not be able to experience the little things either. They will never eat their last lunch in the cafeteria, sit through their last class, or walk down the East halls for the last time. East seniors will never experience the closure they deserve.

Furthermore, the closure of schools is also very disappointing for senior athletes who will never be able to take the field with their classmates ever again.

“It’s your senior year, your last year and you want to bring everything you have for your final season and leave it all out there. A lot of us seniors have been playing together since middle school and we were finally ready to say that we were the oldest. To say that my final game as an East Cougar was during my junior year and that I will never ride that bus again with all of my teammates just doesn’t feel right,” said Holland.

Although this is all so upsetting, East students have been sticking together during these tough times. Balderstone put together a special video to connect the Class of 2020.

Balderstone said, “I made a video for the Senior Class with all my friends from over the years. I did this as a way to bring everyone together. I wanted to unite us as a class.”

Instead of giving up when times got tough, the Class of 2020 has persevered and made the best out of this precedented situation.

Not only is this heartbreaking news to the Senior Class, but the Junior Class also found the news extremely upsetting.

Although juniors are not missing out on special senior events like graduation and the senior trip, they are still missing out on numerous things that junior year has to offer.

Juniors will not be able to experience their Junior Prom. On top of that, some juniors are unable to take their ACTs and SATs. They have been preparing all year to take these tests, and may not be able to do so.

Maddie Silver (‘21) said, “We are missing out on so many different things such as the Junior Prom, taking the SAT/ACTs, Mr. East and going to high school sporting events. I was most disappointed to miss my Junior Prom.”

I finally get a chance to slow down after many long stressful weeks during the year. I can finally focus on things that I did not have time for during the year. I also get to spend a lot of time with my family and actually get to sit down for a family dinner which is something that we could hardly ever do.”

— Emily Altman ('22)

Nick Gangewere (‘21) agrees as he said, “I am mad about missing the athletics this spring, but the extracurriculars like Junior Prom and all of the sporting events sting the most.”

Although this is a disappointing time for many, lots of students have been trying to look on the bright side. Some students have been learning new things or doing innovative tasks as a way to stay productive.

Gangewere said, “The positives to school ending early, if any, are that people have time to do cool things and learn new things on their own. Also, it gives people a chance to spend time with their family.”

Other East students feel the same way as Gangewere. This may not be ideal, however, they have been trying to make the best of the situation.

Emily Altman (‘22) said, “I finally get a chance to slow down after many long stressful weeks during the year. I can finally focus on things that I did not have time for during the year. I also get to spend a lot of time with my family and actually get to sit down for a family dinner which is something that we could hardly ever do.”

However, sophomore students still feel like they are missing out on a great number of things. One of these things being education.

Altman said, “I do not feel like I will be prepared for junior year as much as I would have been if I were at school. I am nervous for next year after missing out on so much learning.”

Students learn many valuable things that help prepare them for future years of high school during their sophomore year. However, through online classes, students are not learning as much as they would hope. It is difficult learning when students aren’t in a classroom environment.

Another East sophomore, Daniel Arougheti (‘22), feels like he is missing out on more than academics. He is most upset about the baseball season officially being canceled.

“The biggest loss is probably missing my sophomore baseball season which I was really looking forward to and working hard for,” said Arougheti.

Many East students are very upset about not being able to participate in their spring sports. Sean Murphy (‘23) is another example of someone who is unable to play the sport he has been looking forward to playing the whole school year.

Murphy said, “I am very upset about the school year ending, especially because I was unable to play spring lacrosse and have [my first year] experiences on the team.”

I am upset that I didn’t get to have the freshman experiences I should’ve had.”

— Sean Murphy ('23)

Not only will Murphy and many other freshmen miss out on their first season for spring sports, but they will also be missing out on so many “first-year experiences.” Freshmen will not be able to experience their first finals, their first Mr. East, or their first Multicultural Day. The list can go on and on.

Jenna Garfinkle (‘23) said, “I’m missing out on a lot by the school year ending early. I was definitely not looking forward to finals, but it would have been nice to have been prepared for next year’s finals. It is very sad that my first year is ending and I couldn’t experience some things like Multicultural Day. This definitely isn’t the first year of high school that I had imagined and I wish it could have been longer.”

Freshmen finally got to high school and did not even get to experience everything it had to offer. The school year ended before they could do all the things they had hoped to experience.

Murphy said, “I am upset that I didn’t get to have the freshman experiences I should’ve had.”

Although there are hardly any positives to this situation, Garfinkle points out something that is a benefit to many.

“I do think that the new grading system is a positive to school closing because it is helping a lot of people boost their grades. However, I [would] rather be in school right now than have remote learning,” said Garfinkle.

The workload has become a lot lighter once online school started. Students do not have nearly as much work as they did at the beginning of the school year.

All East students feel differently about the closure of schools, however, everyone can agree that this was not the way they thought the year would turn out. Everyone has learned countless lessons that they will never forget throughout this difficult time.

Altman said, “I have learned to be so grateful for all the little things. I didn’t realize how much school meant to me before all of this happened and I would do anything to go back.”

Many students wish they could go back in time and be more appreciative of the time they spent at East.

Holland said, “Looking back makes me wish I had cherished [my time at East] a little more. I have realized that there will be many people that I might never see again in my life and is really upsetting.”

If there was one thing that everyone learned from this unfortunate situation, it would be to not take anything for granted because you truly have no idea what life is going to throw your way.

This story was originally published on Eastside on May 8, 2020.