Caps, Gowns, and Facemasks

Manny Jaime, Writer

The only possible way to end an already bizarre school year would of course be to finish in an unpredictable way. Nobody could’ve anticipated where this school year was bound to head to. There’ve been many twists and turns with complications over switches in schedules, WebEx problems, Covid-19 precautions and many more things unheard of in previous school years. One big event running through seniors’ minds at the moment is the uncertainty of graduation. With requirements to stop the spread and county mandates set in place, there’s puzzlement over how the senior class will get its farewell for a dedicated four years of learning. The task of making graduation run smoothly is unparalleled to the planning of years before. Principal Secretary Jennifer Silverstein detailed a set of rules that would be placed at graduation.

“I know that last year and this year too, we are planning for EVERY scenario,” said Silverstein. Some graduation expectations from the past are walking the stage with a roaring crowd of proud family and friends before shaking hands with your teachers as you step foot into your future. 

“At this point I don’t know if that will affect how many spectators can be in attendance or how our graduates will be spaced on the field.  I would imagine that we will probably all be asked to wear masks, and I also would assume that we would not participate in any handshaking,” said Silverstein. Juggling an everlasting memory with the safety of everybody into consideration is a difficult task, but with set boundaries, students are bound to be safe. While everyone’s looking forward to this school year’s final chapter, there’s also worries in the air over how it’s all going to work out safely. Ann Flurry, an English teacher at Shawnee Mission West, believes in the basis of safety.

 ​”I am concerned about walking the fine line of ensuring everyone’s safety and still having fun and honoring our graduates with the usual pomp and circumstance,” said Flurry. It’ll certainly be a difficult task to overcome, but with examples of graduation last year and ideas coming from all sides, a well-executed game plan in the works. Vanessa Soberanis, a senior at Shawnee Mission West, also agrees with having focus on safety.

“The best and safest way to have graduation would be at Shawnee Mission South outside, with everyone sitting 6 feet apart from each other. Of course masks. This would allow seniors to at least experience a part of the real graduation as well with being safe,” said Soberanis. Social distancing and masks are a common theme coming from concerned attendees. Another point is limited seating. Limited seating is efficient and reduces the risk but with families and friends all eager to attend graduation, it’ll be contentious. 

 “​I believe in the science of masks and distancing, so maybe limiting seating and spreading out the chairs of graduates?  I’m glad I’m not in charge of making this decision.  In the end, though, our seniors will never forget this eventful year,” said Flurry The school year has brought many ups and downs to the senior class since pep assemblies, lunch room talks, football games, and school dances have all gone missing. 

“This year’s seniors (as well as last year’s) have really gotten the short end of the stick as far as what a senior year should be, so I just hope that graduation highlights all of the extraordinary circumstances that our seniors have had to get through,-” said Flurry. 

“I would really like some highlights of the class of 2021 at graduation! The best moments! I would really enjoy seeing parts of the assembly we won,!” said Soberanis. While the year hasn’t been completely memorable, it still serves as a good time to look back at the memories made in the past three years. Having a positive outlook is the best way to see things at the moment. 

“I honestly have been really sad this whole year because it felt like my senior year was taken from me. I didn’t get to do most of the things I was planning on doing senior year. I was really sad at first but then as time went on I kinda just had to be ok with it.“ said Soberanis. With future plans on the horizon, seniors should continue to keep their head held up high and make the best out of their last months in high school. With Covid being an extremely bitter bag of lemons, seniors can still make a gallon of lemonade by holding on and wishing for the best.