Class of 2020 – COVID-19 brings early end to school year

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Top row, left to right: Alexis Young, Brett Patterson, Devan Fumes, Jordan Bentley; second row, left to right: Kelsey Griffin, Kinlee Puckett, Morgan Haynes, Nathaniel Killion; third row, left to right: Payton Overton, Sayra Milne, Shay Brown and Taylor Jenkins

CULLMAN, Ala.The effects of the coronavirus outbreak are being felt all over the world and school systems are no exception. The decision from Gov. Kay Ivey and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey has brought the 2020 school year to an early and unexpected halt and this year’s class of seniors is still dealing with the fallout. Some local students have shared their thoughts on the unprecedented situation as well as messages for their fellow classmates as they prepare for the next stage of their lives.

If you are a local senior who would like to share your thoughts on the school year’s end, you can send them and a photo of yourself to christy@cullmantribune.com.

Sayra Milne – Cullman High School

“Pray for the seniors. pray for the seniors who don’t get to finish their last sports season. Pray for the seniors who don’t get to put on that last show they’ve been working the past months on. Pray for the seniors who don’t get to have that last competition. pray for the seniors who don’t get their last award banquet. Pray for the seniors who don’t get to have their favorite teachers’ class one last time. Pray for the seniors that will miss so much. Pray for the seniors that can’t get their yearbook signed. Pray for the seniors that don’t get to have their prom. Pray for the seniors that don’t get a senior trip. Pray for the seniors that don’t get to walk down those halls one last time. pray for the seniors who will never see their classmates again. Pray for the seniors that never got to say goodbye. Pray for the seniors who have worked so hard for so long but don’t get to walk across that stage. Pray for the senior class of 2020. We are strong but we are not okay.”

Alexis Young – Cullman High School

“The quarantine that me and the other students of Cullman high school are going through has affected us greatly. Even though we are doing class work at home online, it’s hard for me to really have the motivation to do the work. All I think about is ‘What if I don’t get to have a graduation ceremony?’ or ‘What if we don’t get to go back to school on April 6?’ It’s hard especially for the class of 2020, we have all worked hard throughout our high school career to get to this point. All I think we, the senior class of 2020 not just from Cullman, or from other schools in Cullman county is to just keep our heads up and hope for the best as our senior year is quickly coming to an end.”

Payton Overton – West Point High School

“So, I’ve kind of pushed this off in disbelief as to what’s going on in the world around me. I know some parents are in awe of how this has affected us after saying how ready we are to leave and may couldn’t come fast enough but that’s because we thought we had time to make friends and make memories so Hold our hands. Let us process what has been taken away, Of course we know it could be worse. We know that some of you missed your graduation because you were being shipped off to a war. We know it because you continue to tell us. And we thank you for your sacrifice, but it’s not a contest. And if it is, okay, you win. But the thing is, we are kids, even though we don’t always want to admit it. Some of us have led sheltered lives, and this is our first hard-knock-life lesson. Some of us have led miserably hard lives and this is just another disappointment. Regardless, we are upset.

“We have spent four years listening to our families and friends tell us how wonderful this year would be. We watched our older friends and family go to prom and walk across the stage at graduation as we all cheered and shed tears for what they had done. We wanted the same. We won’t get it. It’s okay for us to be sad. Don’t scoff at us. Hold our hands. Let us grieve. Show us the way. Now we have to say goodbye to our routines to seeing our friends in class going to sporting events, competing in school contests and for me that was livestock judging and FFA, but now we don’t know if we will see our classmates again. If we will get to say goodbye to the teachers who have shaped us into the people we are today.

“Saying goodbye will be hard as the great Dr. Suess said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened.’”

Taylor Jenkins – West Point High School

“This a rough time in life but I know it happened for a reason and I trust everything will be okay. I am looking forward to what my future will hold which includes college and my career path. I will miss all of my classmates and teachers that help me along the way, this is not how I imagined this happening. It has been an amazing journey and I have obtained great knowledge.”

#classof2020

Brett Patterson – Cullman High School

“I am a senior and the last couple of months, I won’t even be there. I might not even get to walk. I have all this free time, but I have fewer hours at work now and nowhere to go. We aren’t even able to hang out with our friends and if we could, there are no movies or places for us to go eat. Although I don’t play sports and I’m not in the band, I feel really bad for those who won’t be able to have their season or play in their final concerts. It’s just not how anyone ever imagined their last few months of their senior year to be.” 

Nathaniel Killion – Cullman High School

“I understand the precautions that everyone is taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. I hate that our senior class is missing out of the final moments we have together as a senior class. I hope that we are still able to have our graduation. We have all worked so hard to get to this point, it would be sad for us not to get to experience this very special time in our lives.” 

Kelsey Griffin – Holly Pond High School

“My name is Kelsey Griffin, I’m a senior at Holly Pond High School. I’ve been at Holly Pond since preschool. I didn’t realize that March 13,2020 was the last day I went to my classes and on March 14,2020 would be my last time getting to play the sport I’ve fell in love with soccer. This has been difficult for many seniors especially not knowing if we will have our last prom, our senior night at our last home game, getting to see our friends again, even our graduation is getting questioned, and our senior trips we have planned. We have worked so hard to get to this last year of school and now our lives are basically on pause. All I want is to have a senior year just like the rest of my family members that have graduated before me.

“I will not lie that this has really made me upset, but what I’ve been taught is that you can’t let things like this get you down. God has a plan for everyone. We go through rough times and good times. To all the people that know a senior just tell that senior that you are there for them and to remember all the good times you had. Think of the future and how good it can be if you just strive for it. Now seniors, I know right now the last thing you want to hear is that everything is okay. We just got to keep our heads up and stay strong and be there for our families at this time. God is good.”

Jordan Bentley – Hanceville High School

“My name is Jordan, I’m a senior at Hanceville High. The COVID-19 disease has gotten to the point where I can’t even have the great year I’ve heard been worked up since I was little. Just to think, my last day of high school has already been made. The fact that the class of 2020 is getting their diplomas in the mail is heart breaking. We gave our all and I mean blood sweat and tears into high school to get to the point to walk through the halls in our cap and gowns; to walk across that stage and accept and smile with our diploma. Just to think that could have been my last high school tourney last month, that could have been my last prom last year, it’s really heart breaking. I want to wish every other senior across the country a good rest of the year and our younger classmen to be greatly appreciated for your senior year, because something could possibly happen where u can’t walk across either. God bless you all.”

Shay Brown – Hanceville High School

“My name is Shay Brown from Hanceville High School. As part of the senior class I can say without a doubt that COVID-19 has taken something from us. It has cut our last year short! Little did we know that March 18, 2020 would be the last time we walked through the halls we swore we hated so much. It would be the last time we complained about having to be there at 7:55 every morning. Little did we know it would be the last time we stood together at break, it would be the last time we got mad at our least favorite teacher. COVID-19 has robbed the Class of 2020 of what is supposed to be the best year of our lives. It has taken Prom; it has taken graduation. The part that hurts the most is that it has taken the laughs, the tears, the time together that we so desperately had begun trying to stock up on. It has taken away the happiness we all knew we had about coming to school, no matter how much we complained, these are just a few ways COVID-19 has affected us Seniors. We are now starting to realize what life after high school will be like.” 

Kinlee Puckett – Vinemont High School

“Ever since kindergarten my classmates and I would talk about all the cool things that we would get to do as seniors. The excitement for senior year only grew bigger throughout elementary and middle school. Finally, my senior year is here, and I am not sure that I will get to experience everything that I was so excited for. Prom and Graduation, two of the biggest moments in a senior year, are being pushed back rescheduled. All I can think is ‘Will the corona-virus outbreak be calmed down enough by then? Will these major life moments even happen?’ I know that the coronavirus is a serious problem and is effecting everyone’s lives, but the senior class of 2020 may lose life moments that others may have taken for granted.” 

Morgan Haynes – Fairview High School

“The coronavirus pandemic is the scariest worldwide event that I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve never seen such a sheer state of panic in our nation. Being required to stay in our homes for an uncertain amount of time is also something I’ve never experienced before. I didn’t realize how much I would miss my classmates, or how much I took precious time with them for granted. Senior events such as senior class pictures, prom, and even our graduation ceremony have had to either be postponed, canceled, or are still in consideration for change. We have dreamed of these events for so long. We don’t want to see them disappear before our eyes. I understand that our government, local authorities, and school board are trying to protect us from this dreaded disease. I respect them and their decisions. However, it’s so disheartening knowing that a culmination of 13 years of work for these privileges and events are slipping from our grasp.”

Devan Fumes – Fairview High School

“My name is Devan Humes, a senior at Fairview High School. I never really would have thought that I would miss school as much as I do right now. I miss my friends and my teachers. I’ve come to some realization this week that I might miss the things I have worked at for 13 years. My graduation might get canceled, my senior prom probably won’t happen, and my last theatre performance probably won’t happen either. I wish I could say I haven’t been stressed about this, but I have. I feel so bad for every senior that has to go through this. I Don’t really know if my senior year is over yet but if it is, I want to let my friends know that they were the only things that kept me happy at school and that I’ll miss every moment I had with them.” 

 

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com