Photo by Colton Stovall
Flashy dresses and loud music at senior prom. High-flying hats among the roaring crowd at graduation. All are essential memories that anyone can expect as a graduating high school senior; however, a global pandemic is not.
All 8,909 public schools in Texas have been shut down due to COVID-19. This novel coronavirus has stripped away the final-hoorah that the class of 2020 anticipated their entire school career.
“We are seniors. We have reached that milestone, but we’re looking at a completely different senior year than anybody has ever seen before,” senior Addie Whightsil said.
Graduation, prom, Six Flags day, senior field day, senior breakfast; all these events that this year’s seniors were looking forward to are either cancelled or postponed until further notice.
Frisco ISD suggested drive-in or virtual alternatives to the same events. As a member of the Superintendent Student Advisory Council, Haley Sharpe, Wakeland Student Council President, made sure that the senior voice was considered in these decisions.
“We didn’t feel like any of the seniors were getting asked for their opinions and I felt like that was very important,” Sharpe said. She worked with Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip to create a Google form for seniors to give their input on events.
Sharpe presented ideas such as a senior reunion, senior picnic, and even postponing prom until winter or the summer of 2021. She and other seniors are working with FISD and Wakeland’s administration to find the most popular and safe alternatives to celebrate the class of 2020.
“We’re gonna have, definitely, the most creative and memorable situation,” Sharpe said with a giggle.
New, original events that honor the class of 2020 have already taken place within the past few days.
On Wednesday, April 29, seniors were welcomed to campus in their cars to pick up their caps and gowns, along with a few other goodies. Teachers and administration lined the sidewalks with signs, music, cowbells, and warm smiles and cheers as seniors and many of their parents came through the drive through for pick up.
“It’s really hard right now with COVID-19 going on, so I think that it’s an opportunity for seniors to still get recognized,” senior Sarah Savage said about Senior Door Day, an event both she and her mother introduced to Wakeland’s administration.
On April 24, seniors decorated their doors to display their individual accomplishments, while teachers and staff traveled in convoys throughout neighborhoods to congratulate the class of 2020. Senior Door Day was filled with beaming smiles and honking horns from door to door.
“It let the seniors showcase what they liked the most these past few years and what their plans are for the future,” senior Antonio Robinson said, grinning at his front door, decked out in decorations highlighting his accomplishments.
Another way that this year’s seniors are being represented is through social media. There is an adopt-a-senior program on Facebook that allows people in the community to select a senior to recognize and to give them small gifts.
Parents are also posting their support for the class of 2020 in any way that they can; however, it is not just parents who are posting.
Seniors Kari Traylor, Jiwon Lee, and Emily Lee created an instagram account, @futuresofwakeland2020, that showcases this year’s graduating seniors and where they plan to go after high school.
“We just wanted this account to become a platform where we all can share our achievements and just celebrate with everyone,” Jiwon said.
Student council and Mrs. Lancaster created a Wakeland Class of 2020 Senior Board through a padlet where people can login and leave seniors messages. https://padlet.com/lancastc/whs2020grads
Through these unprecedented times that have eliminated convenience and convention, the class of 2020 emerged stronger than ever with creativeness and perseverance. Not even a pandemic that has forced us apart in distance can stop our Wolverines from coming closer together in spirit.
“These memories I will hold onto for the rest of my life,” Antonio said.
Senior year should not be remembered by the memories that were missed; rather, it should be remembered for the memories that were made in spite of adversity.
“Senior year was that final opportunity to soak in all those familiar faces and just make the most of those last moments until I move on to the next phase in my life,” Addie said. “They have made me the person I am.”
As the class of 2020 begins to go their separate ways, we are bringing along a part of Wakeland with us. We will always be forever orange and blue.