By Savannah Dupper
When Cathedral Catholic High senior Lewis Barnum heard the final baseball season of his school career was canceled, he broke down in tears.
“All my teammates came over and hugged me and tried to cheer me up,” said Barnum, an infielder. “Something can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. There are so many things I wish I would’ve done, but now that’s not possible.”
Barnum is one of the approximately 500 seniors at the high school. They along with their counterparts across the diocese, indeed across the nation in public and private schools, are mourning that they can’t experience fully their final semester of high school.
The coronavirus led the school’s administration to transition to online learning, to cancel spring sports, the spring musical and the Senior Boat Dance. That’s left seniors trying to cope with constant event cancellations and a new reality of social isolation during a time when they should be celebrating collegiate achievements and making final memories with friends.
“It is so disheartening that the Class of 2020 will most likely miss all of the sentimental experiences that we have been looking forward to for four years,” senior Cecilia Bacich said. “But despite this, I am really trying to keep a thankful mindset, because self-quarantine has done a great job at showing me the experiences and people I take for granted.”
While COVID-19 continues to impact them, seniors are finding ways of adapting to the academic, social, athletic, and spiritual restrictions of the quarantine. Seniors have developed schedules to keep up with college and school deadlines and use Google Meet to video chat with teachers, classmates, and counselors to stay in contact with the school’s community.
“I feel as if the lines between school and home, and week and weekend, have been totally blurred,” Bacich said. “I’m trying to establish boundaries and implement some structure into my life that I used to have. So, I have a daily schedule with my schoolwork, and I also add at least one thing I want to learn or do that is exciting and fun.”
Academic organizations, including the National Honors Society, also are organizing projects to help the underclassmen adapt to online learning and to provide relief for local health workers.
They include letter writing to pen pals in Mexico, which its members can do from home; video game tournaments; online tutoring; and making masks to donate to San Diego hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
“We are still trying as an organization to remain active,” said Taber Ball, the Society’s president and also a senior. “I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish during this time of great need.”
To track each other’s college acceptances and commitments, seniors created a private Facebook page, CCHS Class of 2020 College Updates.
“I created the Facebook group because I was curious to hear where everyone was going, and I thought it would be a great way to keep the Class of 2020 connected despite being apart,” said senior Devin Giorgetta.
However, while they adapted to the online learning platform, many seniors are worried about the fate of upcoming events, including the prom, the senior class trip to Disneyland California and commencement at the University of San Diego. These events, scheduled for May, had not been cancelled as of April 15.
Meanwhile, the school’s administrators are organizing a student survey, a small student committee, and a senior parent committee to brainstorm ideas for senior events.
“It’s frustrating to miss out on events like senior prom that I’ve been excited about since freshman year,” said Emma Caringella. “I already bought a prom dress so I’m going to have to figure out what to do with it. I hope there’s some way for us to still have these events even if they will take place over the summer or virtually.”
To lessen senior concerns, the school’s Associated Student Body is continuing to spread school spirit virtually.
“These fun events are so hard to miss, but they are a drop in the bucket of all the wonderful memories and experiences the Class of 2020 has had while attending (Cathedral Catholic),” the ASB moderator, Sara Rhodes, said. “I am confident that groups of friends will make the most of their summer together before they head off to college and will appreciate even the simplest times together after weathering the COVID-19 storm.
“I think our seniors will be a unique group of young adults in the world who won’t take things for granted . Even now, with the Zoom calls, the Snapchats, and the Google Meets, I can tell they all are truly enjoying seeing each other’s faces and interacting in the smallest ways.”
For seniors involved in spring sports and other athletic activities, the quarantine presents the challenge of staying in shape without practice schedules and gym access.
“I’ve been staying strong by working out at my friend’s gym and taking swings in my net in the back yard,” Barnum said. “I’ve just been trying to do everything I can to stay healthy but continue to work on my skills.”
Senior student athletes are also expressing sadness about missing last games with their teammates and Senior Night, which celebrates the senior members of each sports team.
“We are discussing our senior athletes and how to best honor them, but we don’t want to start a social media effort there until we get word about returning to campus in May,” Rhodes said. “Fingers crossed this is still an option.”
With Masses canceled locally and nationwide, the school’s students are struggling to find ways to continue connected to their faith.
“I know it’s not the same, but there are Masses being live-streamed and TV Masses on YouTube that are useful and provide a way to unite our intentions with the rest of the Church,” said senior Maya Redington. “I want to say to anyone struggling with their faith that that’s okay, there’s always going to be rough times in our faith journey.
“I like to think that even having a desire to get closer to God makes Him happy.”
Although missing monumental moments in their senior year, many in the Class of 2020 continue to be resilient in the face of the virus and the challenges it may bring as they look to the future.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience is to never take anything for granted and always appreciate everything you have while you have it,” Barnum said.
“I’ve made so many great friends and relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Savannah Dupper is News Editor of El Cid, the student newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School and a partner of The Southern Cross.