column by Rebecca Breland | photography by Alexandra Fernholz

To the kids I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life with, to the kids who’ve been with me through it all, to the kids who’ve made me who I am, to the class of 2020:

This was not the ending we planned. It is certainly unlike anything we expected. A spring quarter full of promise and celebration, in a matter of weeks, has become a source of grieving. 

The coronavirus has swept the globe, and in its undercurrent has taken weddings, sporting events, paychecks and worst of all, many lives. And yet, this does not cheapen our own losses — milestones that were a lifetime in the making.

Athletes lost Senior Night. Club members lost their final events. Organizations lost their last formals. We lost our last moments in the Lakota East classrooms. We lost the opportunity for proper goodbyes with the places and people we love. Still, though, this abrupt ending doesn’t diminish our years here.

After 12 years of schooling, all the way from preschool to our senior year, we have been together. It’s sad to see all of what we worked towards change in an instant.

The last three months of your senior year are the ones you’re supposed to look back on. In these three months, we should’ve had things like the Parade of Graduates through our elementary schools, where it all started, our final prom, with dresses many of us already have, our senior picnic with our closest friends, our car show to impress the underclassmen, and last but surely not least, our graduation.

If we are all being honest, this sucks. Everything we’ve worked seems as though it has gotten ripped away from us. But we are strong. We’ve been through too much to not at least try to turn that curveball into a home run. This home run may look different, but that is what makes it special.

Yes, graduation will look different. We won’t be at the Cintas Center that all our siblings have and will graduate at in the future. But think we get to graduate at a place we all know and have memories with, one more time at Lakota East.

Many schools are doing half the work Lakota is doing for their seniors, and for that I commend them. They are not choosing to cancel everything- they are fighting for the exact same thing we are: a finish to our senior year.

No one chose the pandemic. I know it’s hard dealing with it, but the situation is being handled how it is best for everyone. They are trying to keep everyone safe.

As a community it is time to come together, virtually of course, to lift each other up and help each other out. This includes the senior class.

I am deeply saddened that we will not have those final days in class, that we are unable to make those final memories, but I am so so excited to see everyone thrive in whatever path they are choosing. Whether it is enrollment, employment, entrepreneurship, or enlistment, the class of 2020 can and will do it all.

I know you have heard it before but just listen one more time: we were born in the shadow of 9/11. We have never seen the country before that time. We entered high school as school shootings became more and more prevalent. We were among the group of kids that fought for change after the Parkland school shooting. We are strong because of this.

If we can overcome that, we can overcome this. The class of 2020 is full of so many strong, intelligent, and determined students I am glad to have spent my years with. I can’t wait to see what you all accomplish in the future, forever and always Thunderhawks.

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