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Column: For the Class of 2020, school's out...forever

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Plainville senior Heidi Jones reflects on a school year lost

  • Plainville senior Heidi Jones reflects on the loss of her senior year in this column for Kansas Pregame. (Left photo: John Baetz; Right photo: Kaiden Van Schuyver)
    Plainville senior Heidi Jones reflects on the loss of her senior year in this column for Kansas Pregame. (Left photo: John Baetz; Right photo: Kaiden Van Schuyver)

Being a senior in high school is one of the best times of a person’s life, especially when he or she lives in a small town.

Everyone knows your name, and when people see you in public, they always ask, “Are you ready for school to be over?” Of course, without hesitating, my answer would always be a solid, "Yes!" 

However, when I said I was ready for school to be over, I did not mean like this. I don’t think any senior wanted our final year of school to be cut short like this.

In Plainville, all of the seniors were nervous. School had been cancelled the week before spring break due to the coronavirus outbreak, but there was still an intention to return to school after spring break.

It was the middle of the week when my fellow seniors expressed how worried they were. What if we didn’t go back to school?

I brushed it off while thinking about how important education is. Besides, I knew that there are many students out there who do not have access to the Internet or even a computer, so online schooling would be a new challenge.

I went into work just as Governor Laura Kelly went live on the air to make an announcement. All of the seniors in the small town of Plainville, held their breath and hoped for the best.

Because I was at work, I didn’t find out right away.

I finally had a minute to step away and check my phone. I had well over 100 messages from my “Class of 2020” group chat. I scrolled to the beginning of the conversation and read the words, “That’s it, guys.”

I felt shocked and was in total disbelief. I couldn’t believe that what was left of my senior year of high school was taken away just like that. I didn’t want to believe it.

I read through all of the heartbroken messages from my classmates, and that tore me up inside. I remember finishing my shift at work and sitting in my truck just to cry.

I was angry. Why us? What did my class do that was so horrible that the rest of our senior year had to be taken away?

I thought about the athletes. Track, boys’ golf, and softball was about to start, and this was the seniors’ last chance to win big. That was all gone.

I thought about my forensics season. I was set up to win state in my own events, and I felt that we had a very strong team despite being so young.

Not only that, but we had just been told that this would be my coach’s last year in Plainville.

I honestly believed that with all of the practice my forensics team had put in this year, we would be State Champions. Now, we would never find out.

Everything had slipped through our fingers so fast, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. It was gone. The rest of our senior year was gone.

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That night, the seniors all got together. All of the bickering and petty arguments that had happened in the past didn’t matter anymore. We all knew that it was time to put everything aside and be there for each other. We were all heartbroken that night, but we also knew we needed to be strong together.

As a class, we spent that night bringing up past memories and laughing. We even played games together, like “Down by the Banks,” as if we were all children again. That was the best therapy my class could get that night. We remembered the good times as we endured the bad. At the end of the night, we all went our separate ways, and the tears came back.

Over the course of the next few days, reality set back in. This wasn’t just an extended spring break. I would never be returning to my high school as a student ever again.

My old classrooms would remain empty until August. I was taught by those teachers for the last time and had no idea. If we missed something during our junior year, we were told, “There’s always next year.” If only that phrase was true.

The more I thought about it, the more that I felt that I had been robbed. With the abrupt end to school, there was no closure. Seniors no longer had the chance to dance together at our last prom. We didn’t get the chance to give our favorite teachers graduation invitations. We wouldn’t be rowdy in the hallways as we cleaned our lockers out for the last time together. No heartfelt goodbyes to teachers as they officially signed us out of our classes for the last time. We weren’t given the chance to drive laps around the school, honking our horns and blasting our speakers as we disrupted classes on our last day of school.

We still don’t know if we’ll actually have a graduation or not. None of it feels real. High school isn't really over for me, is it?

The answer to that question is, "No!" I’m not done with high school. We officially started online classes, and it is very different from what school used to be. My classmates still have the chance to see each other during the week, but it’s now through a screen.

We now get our work at the beginning of the week, and we have until midnight on Friday or sometime over the weekend to finish it all. I personally like this method because I get to work at my own speed, and I don’t have to wait around for everyone else to catch up.

But this isn’t how I wanted to finish high school. The socialization aspect of high school is gone. I miss my classmates. I miss their questions and their silly comments. I miss their disruptions that would put the entire class behind because we spent most of our time laughing.

I can’t help but think that this isn’t how I should be finishing high school. I should be back in those classrooms Monday through Friday. Online learning may not be that bad, but I miss how school used to be.

This was one of the most shocking and life-changing experiences I have ever endured. It was a change that nobody was expecting, and everyone had to quickly adapt.

As a senior, this was a difficult time. Our daily routines were disrupted, and I personally felt lost. We may be adjusting to these sudden changes, but it certainly has not been easy.

As I sit at home with all of the extra free time I now have, I often reflect back on my high school career. I think about going to state football my freshman year and attending state forensics for the first time. I remember the last time my brother and I were on the Plainville Cardinals’ football team together. I think back to all of my high school dances and all the time I spent getting ready for them.

I will never experience anything quite like high school in a small town ever again.

The Class of 2020 couldn’t wait to be done with school, but I can assure you we did not mean like this.

Heidi Jones is a senior at Plainville High School. She was featured as part of our Nex-Tech Wireless Fall Supporting Cast for her work as a student-manager for the Plainville football team, a role she plans to continue in college at Kansas Weselyan University, where her brother, Nolan, is part of the Coyote football team.