A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Voices from the Classroom: Members of the Class of 2020 get a chance to have their say; they speak out

By Amanda Klare
Beechwood Elementary School

Since March, we have seen our local schools and communities rally around the Class of 2020. We’ve all driven past the signs in the front yards to recognize the seniors. We’ve all posted our own senior pictures with big hair in the 80s to the unforgivable 90s style trends from many moons ago to show support for them.

What we haven’t been able to do though is listen to the graduates of the Class of 2020. Typically this column is written by teachers to share good things going on in Northern Kentucky schools; however, today this is a student-voice column where five seniors have been vulnerable enough to reflect on the end of their senior year.

Thanks to these reflections, we can all feel what it’s like to graduate in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Trenton Downard
Dayton High School, Class of 2020

Trenton Downard

Growing up in Dayton and going to Dayton High School has been a great thing, but recently something has happened that turned everything upside down: the Coronavirus. It has put a very quick halt to a lot of things that many people, including myself, were looking forward to. One thing that I know that I will miss, is at the end of the year, Dayton High School has a day where they celebrate all the students, especially the seniors. Those seniors who are college or career ready would get to pie a teacher in the face. However, because we are no longer able to physically attend school, we will not be able to continue this tradition this year.

For me, the thing I was most looking forward to was baseball season. It is my favorite sport to play, and from the moment my senior year began, I couldn’t wait to play. But because of recent events, all spring sports got canceled. Even though all of this and more has happened, I do what I can to keep myself busy: working on school work, playing video games, or hanging out with my family, so that I don’t let myself become down about everything.

During this tragedy Dayton High School has been helpful and supportive by explaining to the students in advance how things were going to operate. While yes, I miss all of my teachers and classmates, going to online schooling was an easy transition to make this tough time just a little easier. Although the transition was easy, the learning for many of my fellow classmates and myself has become harder because getting the information and retaining it for a test has become harder. And even though all of this has happened, the Class of 2020 will come out on top of it and become very successful as a whole.

Austin Everman
Ludlow High School, Class of 2020

Austin Everman

When you’re growing up, you see movies with seniors graduating, doing senior things, going to parties with their friends, and going to senior prom. You dream that that’s what it is like to be a senior, and you can’t wait for your day to come. Once you are a junior and you see some of your friends graduate and see all the fun things their class gets to do at the end of the year, that’s when you realize that that’s going to be my peers and I next year!

Seeing my sister Kayla graduate last year really gave me a first-hand look at what my senior year would look like, but sadly for my Class of 2020, we didn’t get that senior year that people are mostly guaranteed at the end of the year as long as you’ve passed all classes and gotten all credits.

Some nights, I just think about how my senior year is over. I won’t be able to walk in the halls again. I didn’t get to have my senior prom. I won’t be able to walk across that stage. I didn’t get to do all the fun senior activities. I didn’t get to do senior skip day with my class.

So now I’m here in my room doing class assignments that I have no motivation to do. This is definitely not the senior year I wanted. Being home there are so many more distractions and I don’t have a teacher who can really help you thrive in your assignments. One thing I love about Ludlow High School is everyone knows everyone; the teachers know what’s going on through people talking about it and they are really aware of what’s going on in each student’s lives.

The teachers at Ludlow High School know how each student learns. Now that I’m not at school anymore, not seeing my teachers, I really did take for granted how amazing they are. They have played a huge part in who I am today. If something was wrong, I could go to any teacher and they would no doubt help me out or just talk to me. I really miss just being in class, seeing all my teachers and friends. But as we all know, life is NOT fair.

My class was born in post 9/11 or during it, and now we are ending our “childhood” in a pandemic. This will definitely shape how we look at things. My class really got a slap in the face by reality earlier than what we thought. Then again, I feel like this will make my class stronger and show everyone to enjoy every moment in high school because you never know what could happen.

Brittney Johnson
Highlands High School, Class of 2020

Brittney Johnson

My parents always told me that my senior year was going to be the most exciting time of my life. It started off that way in the beginning of the school year and then it turned into complete chaos.

Softball has been a huge part of my life for twelve years, and I never would have imagined it ending this way. I was so ready for my senior season with all my teammates; it was my one last ride to really prove who I was as a player. We had big goals and we were supposed to reclaim our region title, and it hurts knowing we never had the chance to prove ourselves as a team. I put my heart and soul on that softball field for years and, unfortunately, I took what time I had left for granted.

I remember as an underclassman always looking forward to my Senior Night and senior season, and I just kept counting down to those things. I didn’t know a virus would take away my chance to play a sport I love.

I am absolutely heartbroken that I played my last game without knowing it. My teammates and coaches were trying to stay hopeful in the beginning, but once April hit, everyone knew the season was not going to happen.

Here’s some advice for any athlete: please play every single game like it’s your last one. Play each game like you won’t ever step foot on that field again; don’t take what time you have left for granted and looking ahead to future seasons. Stay focused on the present, because the present is all you have.

Sydney Berger
Beechwood High School, Class of 2020

Sydney Berger

Ever since I came to Beechwood in third grade, I’ve dreamed of the day I would get to experience all of the fun senior activities that I have grown up watching: prom, senior month, canoeing, BB Riverboats, graduation. Never in a million years did I think that all of that would be taken away from me because of a virus.
Sitting at graduation last year watching some of my best friends walk across that field one last time, I remember thinking that will be me next year. I never thought that ceremony would be an uncertainty.

Although I have been sad beyond words, this experience has made me realize how truly thankful I am to go to a school that is doing everything in their power to make sure our senior class feels special. From giving us our last chicken patty lunch to lining the road with our signs, Beechwood has made an awful situation a lot less hard.

I’m thankful for staff members who have shown up at my door with everything from posters to cookies. For students who have dropped balloons and cards off. This has shown me that Beechwood isn’t just a school, it is truly a family. A family that I’ve never been so thankful to be a part of. A family that I can’t wait to come back to as both a teacher and as a Beechwood mom.
While the ending to this chapter of my life wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, I wouldn’t change the past ten years as a Tiger for anything.

Liam Greene
Cooper High School, Class of 2020

Liam Greene

I was so shocked when I learned that we would all be going into non-traditional instruction because of the coronavirus outbreak, and I was saddened when I thought about all the activities I’d miss out on during my last year of high school.

At first I thought it might just be a scare and that we’d go back to school after a little time at home, but after seeing how everything unfolded, I completely understand why the schools closed. Besides, after seeing the new arrival of the “murder hornets,” my living room couch couldn’t be looking better.

Of course, missing out on traditions like senior prom, senior exit interview, and graduation really gives you a lot to complain about. There’s only one chance, unless you really get bad grades, to do all these things. Even though I’m missing out on these activities, I think I’d much rather miss a few fun days than get or give someone else the coronavirus and miss out on all that my future has to offer.

So, while there’s obviously room to complain and bicker about how unlucky and unfair it is for the class of 2020, there’s a whole other side of optimism to it.

We were really lucky that we even had a home to go to when the threat of a virus spread around. During the sadness our country was feeling after going under self-quarantine, being the optimistic thinker is so much more valuable than feeling sorry for yourself. Did we miss out on some cool activities? Yes, of course we did. Will we ever get them back? No, probably not.

But we can remember the class of 2020 as the most united class of all time regardless of the grueling circumstance put in front of us.

Amanda Klare is a Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow alumna and a teacher at Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent). Klare created and maintains the Northern Kentucky Tribune‘s “Voices From The Classroom” feature, which highlights local teachers and their work to improve outcomes for students. She is a recipient of the 2019 Teacher Achievement Award and was a semifinalist for the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award.

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