The switch from in-person learning to “Zoom school” has been extremely difficult for many kids. The change has affected students of all ages, but it has had a major impact on high school and college seniors. Dr. Ludmila De Faria, a psychiatrist with Florida State University, says seniors are “mourning the loss of important developmental milestones they were supposed to be doing at this time in their lives” (NPR).
Over the past year, seniors have missed so many milestones that they had likely been looking forward to since freshman year. Events like senior award ceremonies, pinning ceremonies, senior sports night, grad bash, and simply saying goodbye to teachers and friends are not possible. While many schools are coming up with unique ways to make up for the missed milestones, it is just not the same.
Abby Reed, a senior at Estero High School, shared how hard it was for her not to say goodbye to her friends and teachers. “High school has been really important to me. I feel like I have really opened up and became the person that I am in high school, and there’s a lot of teachers and administrators who helped me through that process, and I can’t really say goodbye to them in person or anything” (News-Press).
Graduation is perhaps one of the biggest and most looked forward to moments in a student’s high school and college career. Unfortunately, traditional graduation have been taken away from many students as well. It is the single event that signifies the end of 12 to 18 or more years of schooling and represents the transition to a new part of life. It is also a moment when student are recognized for their success by their family, friends, peers, teachers, coaches, and many others. Without that large public recognition, many students can feel that their hard work and success ha gone unrecognized.
In Lee County public schools alone, this was the case for 5,562 graduating students. Mervyn Hernandez, a senior at Riverdale High School said, “the coronavirus happened and stopped all sports, stopped everybody’s clubs and activities, nobody can hangout, there’s probably going to be no events going on, and there’s nothing for all these seniors that you know worked hard these 12 years to make it to this point and be able to graduate and finish out everything that we’re doing. It’s pretty sad and heartbreaking knowing that this is how it ends” (ibid).
Many students looking forward to college may now be wondering if that is the path they still want to take. For students who are already dreading having to log onto Zoom for school week after week, the idea of attending “Zoom University” may not be appealing. On top of that, the idea of not being able to go onto campus for classes, fully participate in clubs or sports, or even be able to move into a dorm room is just another missed milestone.
The Uyeno Foundation’s mission is to fund initiatives that promote positive mental health through prevention, intervention, treatment, and education. We want to shed light on mental health challenges throughout our nation while focusing on the local community in Southwest Florida.
If you are a teacher or administrator serving in Southwest Florida, please share your positive and proactive thoughts about how we can all work together to improve the way we celebrate senior’s milestones during these challenging times in the comments below.