End of the Road

The impacts of COVID-19 have taken away the last months of high school for the class of 2020. Despite what has been lost, seniors attempt to move forward and make the most of an unfortunate situation.

By: Sophie Jacob

Before I was even able to properly say goodbye to my friends and teachers, March 13th became the last odd block of my life. The last day of the normal school year, and the last day this year’s seniors would step on campus as Paly students.

Even months later, I’m still not able to grasp the entirety of this crazy situation. Because of the shelter-in-place mandate, the class of 2020 is unable to spend their last days of high school together, reliving memories and making new ones. It’s emotionally taxing to accept that our senior year is over before it even seemed to have started.

Amidst our sadness, however, summer has not started and school must go on. For seniors, second semester is notorious for slacking off. After three and a half years of hard work, seniors want to enjoy their last months of high school playing on the quad during class, not completing homework assignments on time and studying just enough to pass.

When work was optional, we were able to slack off without any consequences. After spring break, however, the implementation of Required Online Learning Experiences, or ROLEs, has reminded everyone that school is still in session.

With required assignments and credit or no credit grades, all students, especially seniors, have to find the motivation to work hard for the rest of the school year. This shift from optional to mandatory reminded me that while it is still technically second semester senior year, I can’t let senioritis hit too hard and risk being rescinded from college.

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Art by Megan Andrews • Photos by Kimi Lillios

Working through the assigned work each week, I’ve started to forget what it was like to be in a structured learning environment. Odd and even days have begun to blur together, and my room is now an inclusive classroom featuring one desk for all subjects. Other students have been replaced by my dog, and distractions pop up left and right, lessening my productivity by the minute.

Despite my lack of motivation and my inability to part with my bed before noon, I’m still able to complete my ROLE assignments by the due date. Even in these unusual circumstances, I push myself to keep learning, so that I’m academically prepared to attend college next year. Staying focused and motivated is a struggle from time to time, but I stay motivated with the hopes of attending college on an actual campus in the fall.

As the virus persists and the memory of senior life at Paly fades, we count down the days to what would’ve been our graduation. With online resources, we continue to work hard but there is no opportunity to play hard in sight. We always knew that the year 2020 would be one to remember, but this is far from what we had in mind.

By: Isabella Moussavi

For eight hours a day, five days a week and a large chunk of the year, we drag ourselves from our homes to the cold comfort of a blue plastic chair in spacious classrooms. We sit at our desks, diligently take notes on presentations and chat with friends during fleeting breaks throughout the day.

While complaints about attending classes are rampant among exhausted students, the comfort of being around our friends makes the learning experience more bearable. After all, many of the friendships we’ve created have grown from the school grounds.

Now with the shelter-in-place order enacted, unable to see my friends face to face, I’ve found it has become more difficult to maintain the relationships I’ve cultivated for years.

Stuck at home with no concrete schedule, surrounded by the same four walls of my bedroom day in and day out, I never expected that the inability to see my friends in person would affect my motivation to reach out to them, but much to my dismay, it has.

However, in the age of technology, there’s no way to truly be disconnected. Even if we’re unable to see our peers in person, a message is sent with a quick swipe and we continue our interactions. With digital services like Photo Roulette, Zoom, Netflix Party and Rabbit taking off amidst the chaos of the pandemic, there’s a plethora of outlets that we can use to stay connected. They help us to avoid any further isolation or loneliness that may follow suit from the lack of face to face interactions.

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Art by Megan Andrews • Photos by Kimi Lillios

One benefit that has emerged from my interactions being forced to remain in the digital world is that the thought of messaging and reaching out to acquaintances is not as daunting as before. Maybe it’s because I no longer have to spontaneously strike up conversation or meet the recipient’s gaze, but this quarantine has unexpectedly made reaching out to others an easier quest than before.

While the effects of quarantine and social distancing are undoubtedly taking a toll on everyone, it’s safe to say that the senior class is feeling robbed of an experience we’ve been dreaming of for years. Each spirit week, we got closer to the day we’d don camo and chant from the top of our lungs full of excitement for the new year, for senior ditch day, for no pants day and for graduation. But it seems that much of our year has been ripped from our grasp.

As my senior year comes to a close in the most unconventional way, I hope that our senior class will be able to enjoy this year in our own special way, making the best out of a year full of surprises we never dreamed of.