A Different Ending
Staff and students expresses their views on the cancellation of 2020 senior year-end activities.
By Elton Wong and Sara Giretto
For the first time ever, the class of 2020 won’t be asking out prom dates or walking the stage for graduation this year as executive order called for the closure of schools and businesses nationwide. In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the San Lorenzo Unified School District cut the 2019-2020 academic school year short with March 13 being the last day any students were on campus. While distance learning has been implemented to allow students to finish off their school year academic-wise, many students are missing out on the social aspects that their school year otherwise would have entailed. Events such as the night rally, multicultural week, prom, graduation, and goodbye week have all been cancelled, and for AHS’s seniors, they won’t have next year to make up for these cancellations.
As a result, many seniors are expressing that they feel robbed of the full high school experience that they worked so hard to achieve.
“To be honest I thought that this was our year, the class of 2020, but I guess not. As to how I am holding up, I don’t get to spend my last memories with my friends…graduation is possibly cancelled…if I could have just one last day with my friends, it would’ve been perfect,” senior Angelo Decastro said.
In particular, many seniors are feeling distraught at the fact that they will not be receiving a traditional graduation ceremony like the classes before them. For students like Victor Delatorre who have actively participated in Don Pride and school events all four years of high school, graduation means a lot more than people may expect.
“To us seniors, or at least the majority of seniors I am able to speak for, prom and graduation are more than just superficial and expensive events we go to in order to goof off and have fun. To us they are the rewards we as a whole feel that we have earned after working and stressing and succeeding for 4 years of high school. They are also a send off of sorts, to get us ready to close the teenage part of our lives and to instead focus on becoming adults and begin the rest of our lives.” Delatorre said.
Many seniors kept hope for a traditional ceremony and anxiously awaited an official declaration on what would happen to graduation all throughout quarantine. Finally, On May 11th, principal James Gray gave an official update on the status of graduation for the class of 2020, ultimately stating that graduation this year will be virtual.
“Following Alameda County of Health Recommendations and the Recommendations from the
Governor's office, we cannot hold a traditional Graduation ceremony. Instead, we will host a virtual ceremony that will mark this profound rite of passage with the honor and dignity our students deserve.” stated Gray in his letter.
However, to students like Delatorre, graduation is a necessity and a virtual ceremony just is not the same. He believes that seniors this year should still have traditional graduation.
“We should at least have a graduation now no matter how late. I heard some schools are going to push back their graduation to August 2, and while I understand that some people would hate having it that late, what other option is there? Because I cannot think of anything else,” Delatorre said.
However, Choir teacher Patricia Schultz, who has helped organize and plan graduation for the previous two years, stated that pushing back graduation to a later date is simply not a viable alternative for Arroyo.
“There are a bunch of problems with that, but the main one would be the staff doesn't work in the summer.” Schultz said.
Although graduation for many is an important ceremony that some seniors are unwilling to compromise on, Schultz holds an opinion in opposition to Delatorre’s and personally feels like it isn’t an absolute necessity.
“While the ceremony is a big celebration and a time for families and friends to recognize the accomplishment of the child, it really isn't important in and of itself. Even if we don't hold a ceremony, students will still graduate. They can still move on with their next steps and dreams. Families and friends can still get together and celebrate the accomplishments of the student. While I enjoy celebrating the accomplishments of the students on graduation, and I enjoy hearing my choir sing, and I will certainly miss seeing them all one last time, I know that all the students will be fine. They are resilient and strong. I know that they have what it takes to move on with their lives and be successful and happy. Those opportunities will present themselves to our students because they graduated and got a diploma, not because they walked or didn't walk across a stage,” Schultz said.
Regardless whether the class of 2020 has a graduation, Delatorre acknowledges the significant impact this year's graduating class and Arroyo as a whole has had on him and his life. Delatorre believes that without the class of 2020 and his entire high school experience, he would not be who he is today.
“I want to say that it was an honor to get to attend the same school as all of the people I met at Arroyo. All of them, no matter how big or small, still managed to leave an impact on me. It is my unwavering belief that without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It is because of the class of 2020 that I am succeeding, it is because of them that I am here today, and most importantly, it is because of them that I am thriving right here right now,” Delatorre said.