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The author (pictured) is among the Housatonic Valley Regional High School seniors expecting the unexpected this fall. Photo by Brooke Stampfle

Graduates are uncertain about the year ahead

The recent months have been tumultuous ones for this year’s graduating class at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. The coronavirus pandemic inaugurated a never-before-attempted experiment in distance learning, and has thrown plans for the fall semester into disarray. As a member of the Class of 2020, I asked several of my classmates about their experiences.

The pandemic “showed me what really matters,” said Lily Bibro, who plans to attend Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. “I graduated mentally on March 13. A graduation doesn’t require a tent on the oval, or speakers, or a ceremony of any kind. All it requires is you as a student and a person feeling a sense of progression and accomplishment.” 

This sentiment was echoed by Jace Tomaino, who said that the pandemic “made me realize that I am ready to move forward in life.”

Students were affected in different ways by the switch to distance learning. Brianna Webb, who is attending the University of Connecticut, said that distance learning hurt her motivation to complete schoolwork.

 “I’m much less driven,” said Webb. 

Lindsey Clark had a different experience. Clark said that “by adhering to deadlines even when I was at home, I was able to stay on top of my assignments and maintain my work ethic.”

All of the students expressed a sense of loss over the normal way of life that they had previously taken for granted, and resolved to be more appreciative of those things. 

“Even in the most difficult times, it is especially important to look to the future and see that this unprecedented occurrence will, I hope, make all of us stronger,” said Clark. 

While many of my classmates plan on staying close to home in their future pursuits, some of us are venturing farther afield. I will be  “crossing the pond” for college to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, although the pandemic could intervene. If classes are held online, I will defer until 2021, rather than experience college from my living room. 

Tomaino, who enlisted in the Air Force prior to the pandemic, could be posted as far away as Hawaii. Because of the pandemic, he added, “I am still waiting on a date to go to basic training. I should be getting a date within the next couple of weeks.” 

A sense of uncertainty about the months to come prevails among the students interviewed. Clark, who is attending Marist College in Poughkeepsie, confessed that “right now, it is unclear what exactly college will look like.” 

Bibro remains cautiously optimistic about the likelihood of normalcy on campus in the fall. “I am praying for the best,” she said. 

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