story by Natalie Mazey | art by Alexandra Fernholz

For four years of high school, students look forward to the day they will get to walk across the stage and receive a diploma, cementing the idea that all of the hard work was worth it. Within a sea of caps and gowns, smiling faces get to say goodbye to the life they have known and enter the next chapter alongside friends.

But due to the coronavirus, monumental moments like graduation have become something almost unattainable. Although the last year of the class of 2020’s high school experience has virtually come to a halt, connection and celebration is still thriving. East senior Gretchen Angst is fostering this excitement through the Instagram account: lehsclass2020.

So far, the account has posted 257 times and has amassed 553 followers since April 5, 2020.  Each post features a senior at East, with their name, college, and major. In the comments, people congratulate one another, proving a stay at home order cannot erase the thrill of graduating.

“I don’t think it makes up for all the events and activities we are missing out on,” Angst says.  “But I do think some of the students and parents appreciate getting the recognition of their plans after Lakota East.”

Angst was given the account from fellow East senior Brock Schwind a few days after it was created, and spent the day she received it catching up on creating posts for the people who had previously direct messaged the account with the help of her friends. Now, she is able to wait until a few messages have piled up before creating a bunch at a time. She is active on the account at least once a day, and is grateful that she is able to spread positivity during a difficult time.

For seniors like Victoria Sims, the account is able to show students where their classmates are going, and what they will be doing the next four years.

“It’s really interesting and cool that we can all share what we are doing after high school,” Sims says. “Even if we have less communication right now, we can still connect.”

Angst enjoys seeing where her classmates’ journey is going to take them, and running this account is a small way for her to spread hope. Recognition may not take place on a stage for this year’s graduating seniors, but an Instagram account is making sure they are still seen.

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