Social interaction is intrinsic to events that mark the end of senior year. Grad night, senior trips, prom, and graduation are symbols of transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood. The significance of these events is often closely tied with the gathering of peers and family. For the graduating Class of 2020, the ending of senior year is playing out far differently than they could have imagined.
When COVID-19 started to surface in the news months before school closures, many students did not foresee the effects the virus would have on daily life. Emily Boe, a Benicia High senior, was not concerned when she first heard about the novel virus. While she was sad to hear about devastation abroad, she says “I didn’t really connect their situation and my own until much later.” Boe’s initial reaction was common – few of us could have predicted our current state under shelter in place.
Even when Benicia Unified School District closed its doors, it was anticipated to be temporary. While many of us hoped that the shelter in place would end swiftly, normalcy has yet to return months later. For some, finishing the school year online seemed to be a natural progression with the growing intensity of the virus. Cole MacDonald, a Benicia High senior, says “I think we all expected to finish the year in lockdown – it didn’t come as much of a surprise.” While no one suspected how drastically our personal world would change, many seniors grew to quickly understand that their beloved rites of passage would play out much differently.
COVID-19 has reshaped the conclusion of senior year for the Class of 2020. Given the parameters of social distance orders, community members and school administrators are doing what they can to fill the void. The accomplishments of the graduating Class of 2020 are not going unnoticed. Benicia High School is planning a “polished and professional” graduation ceremony on June 6th, beginning at 11:00am. The ceremony will be broadcasted at this time via YouTube and the Benicia Government Access Channel. Following the ceremony, students and their families will receive their diploma and graduation photo “drive-thru style” from 1:00-2:00pm. Benicia High School is encouraging the community to come out, socially distanced of course, to wave and cheer seniors en route to receive their diploma. To further replicate tradition, seniors are encouraged to record themselves throwing their decorated caps into the air for a video montage. This video montage is expected to show during the graduation ceremony.
Other efforts to honor tradition are taking place. Benicia High School’s Leadership and Senior Reps are continuing to work on the senior slideshow. Seniors are encouraged to
submit up to ten photographs from any point throughout their high school journey for the slideshow. Additionally, the 2019-2020 yearbook is complete and ready for distribution, however it is expected to arrive late. While the 2019-2020 yearbook will be missing the adornments of signatures, it will be a relic from a historical time of our lives.