Opinion: A Surreal End to Senior Year


Libby Jones, Managing Editor

I am floating in an endless pool of time, broken up only by the occasional glance at the numbers in the bottom right corner of my computer or the top of my phone screen.

It goes without saying that seniors at the school did not expect this is how we would end our high school careers.

As we receive our final assignments and tune into our virtual classes for the last times, many of us are struggling to pin down how we feel about ending our senior year as we are.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said senior Caroline Fettes over the phone. Even though we’re so close to graduating, she said, “it just doesn’t feel like it.”

So many of the typical end-of-year landmarks have been canceled, even knowing logically that these are my last days of high school doesn’t help it feel real. There’s a part of me that thinks after this week, I’ll just keep waking up and checking in to more virtual assignments, on and on forever.

It feels like I’ve been doing this for an eternity, so how am I supposed to feel like it has a concrete ending?

Senior Alex Love said in a phone interview that while she is happy to be close to being done with schoolwork, “I also feel anxious because it feels wrong.”

Working like normal is hard because nothing is normal. Love said she feels like she is constantly behind on her assignments even after she’s finished everything she needs to do.

“It feels like it should be taking me longer,” she said. “It feels like I should have more to do.”

And even with a smaller total amount of work, focusing and finishing that work can be harder at home.

Senior Katherine Ferrero said in an email that from the beginning of digital learning she was concerned about her ability to work well. “Working outside of a school setting is very hard for me so [I] was very worried,” she said.

For the past six weeks or so, since widespread lockdowns went into place, comments on how the days blend together have been a constant across social media. Without normal schedules or busy days to anchor us, that surreal, lost feeling is easy to succumb to.

Plus, many AP teachers are still encouraging seniors to do their classwork as practice for exams, which are being offered digitally during May.

Love said she plans to continue doing schoolwork even after she could be done, “just because I do need something to do during the day.”

Having the option to keep doing work, even if it’s not required and most of us seniors probably won’t, only adds to the uncertain feeling surrounding this anticlimactic end of the year.

Even the few things that haven’t been outright canceled are hard to look forward to. There are no precedents for doing things like online graduation, so with no expectations there is little to be excited about.

“I get that people want to have a ceremony and that’s fine, but just send me my diploma,” said Love.

I won’t have a normal graduation ceremony. It’s another item on the endless list of things that are weird to think about and accept about this year, but it’s true whether we try to replicate it from home or not.

Fettes said she is trying to be optimistic about graduation, but still feels like a virtual ceremony won’t carry the same emotions as one in person.

“There’s definitely something about being there with all your peers,” Fettes said. “There’s like a sense of mourning going on.”

And ultimately, a version of those sentiments hovers around everything right now. Doing schoolwork doesn’t feel like school. Being home, even doing nothing, doesn’t feel like free time. Talking to people during math-class Teams meetings doesn’t feel like actually seeing friends.

There are no gleaming landmarks to reach towards, to end senior year with a bang, so feeling a sense of mourning or melancholy, while negative, can help stave off the utter apathy of being lost in that endless time-pool.