We need to treat this graduating class with grace and empathy.
When I first noticed people sharing old senior pics on Facebook, I thought it was a fun pandemic trend. I enjoyed seeing the photos, especially from those I didn’t know in high school. I’m a high school dropout, so it was interesting seeing how my friends and family have changed over the years.
Then I learned the real reason the trend started.
Apparently some people are posting their old pics to honor the class of 2020. You know, the same seniors who may never get to walk the stage, head held high, while a crowded auditorium cheers for their achievements. Those seniors.
Posting your own senior pics doesn’t honor the class of 2020. It just honors your past, and it’s insensitive right now.
I have a high school senior. I originally thought we’d spend this time touring colleges and planning for her future. That’s not happening now.
Sure, there are virtual college tours, but there’s a disconnect between the Internet and real life. There’s something special about taking a road trip, rolling up to the school of your choice, and roaming the campus.
You can hear birds chirp and smell food from the cafeteria. You can see vibrant flowers decorating the entrance. You can speak with current students and staff in person instead of through a digital screen. We can convince ourselves virtual visits provide a comparable experience, but it’s just not the same.
The class of 2020 is missing out on so many things right now, and it’s totally unfair. We don’t need to make seniors feel worse by bombarding them with our own pics on Facebook or Twitter.
“Well, they can just have their graduations when the pandemic ends.”
I’ve heard that line often, and it doesn’t help anyone feel better. Maybe they don’t want their graduations later. Maybe they want them this summer just like the decades of graduates before them.
And what about seniors who are leaving town as soon as they graduate? Think about the military members and the students who signed up for the summer semester at college. There are also students who — pandemic permitting — plan to study abroad. Some ambitious students already have out-of-state internships scheduled for this summer.
These students can’t just drop everything and return for their graduation. They may never get to don their cap and gown.
Some students are okay with this. Others are devastated. Instead of posting throwback pics or saying “There are bigger issues right now,” let’s validate these seniors’ feelings.
Talk to them. Let them vent. Don’t force optimism or gratitude on them.
The class of 2020 may never get the closure they need. Instead of creating happy memories during their final school year, they’re getting thrust into adulthood as a virus destroys their immediate plans. New graduates often feel apprehensive about the future, but can you imagine transitioning to adulthood during a global crisis?
It’s terrifying. We need to remember this and treat this graduating class with grace and empathy. They are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions right now, and some of them are missing experiences they’ve waited their entire lives to have.
I know what it’s like not to graduate, and nearly two decades later, it still haunts me. I wanted so badly to be a first-generation high school graduate, but my home life was chaotic. Despite my best efforts, I was just too stressed to focus on my studies. I missed weeks of school at a time, and my grades reflected my poor attendance rate.
After bouncing around from family to family during my teen years, I finally gave up on my education and accepted a management position at McDonald’s. On the night I should have graduated, tears covered my cheeks as I made hamburgers for happy graduates and their families. I was proud of my former classmates but hated that I’d never achieve the same educational milestone.
My own actions kept me from getting my diploma, but at least I knew I’d never walk across the stage. I had time to mentally prepare myself even though the situation still broke my heart. Imagine how seniors who worked hard from kindergarten to 12th grade, excitedly awaiting their graduation day, must feel. The pandemic cheated them out of a special moment they deserved to experience — with no warning.
I’m not saying you should stop sharing senior pics on Facebook. I get a kick out of seeing them, and so do many others.
But be mindful of why you post them. Share your senior pics because it’s fun reminiscing about your high school years, not because you think it honors the class of 2020. Current seniors don’t need a reminder that the pandemic derailed their graduation plans or prevented them from hugging teachers goodbye on the last day of school. Find a different way to offer support as we get through the mess COVID–19 has created.
Source : Medium