Class of 2020 Says a Doleful Goodbye to Their Senior Year


By Julles Marquez

A farewell to high school.

Julles Marquez, Editor-In-Chief

Senior Devin Encinias wrote a compelling Facebook post on Friday, April 3 after some devastating news was released about the cancellation of school.

“…I just lost my brother who was my best friend; so believe me when I say I’m grateful to still be alive, I’m not complaining about that…But all you people that are being disrespectful and saying the class of 2020 isn’t going through some serious **** have no idea what you’re talking about. We’re missing out on some of the best memories of our lives, just because it’s not happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. Be considerate and shut up before you speak on something that you don’t have to experience or you don’t have the respect to think about…”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered all aspects of daily life. Globally, some of the most vulnerable populations have had to endure the social, economic, and political repercussions of the virus. Although certain people with compromised immune systems and groups with a low socioeconomic status have to sacrifice more than the average person, every human on this planet has had to sacrifice their convenience and comfort because of COVID-19.

Specifically, a demographic that has had to adjust their professional and social lives are students. Locally, Wheat Ridge High School along with the rest of the Jeffco district cancelled school for the rest of the school year on Friday, April 3. Colorado Governor Jared Polis endorsed a stay-at-home order until April 27 in an attempt to build our way back up to safety, security, and normalcy, but students have responded in a variety of different ways. Students are disappointed, confused, and even outraged because of the abrupt changes. 

Online, various students have expressed their wish for these sorts of events to, at the least, be postponed. Teenagers have made somber posts about their blasts from the past and their desires for the future. 

In a private interview, Encinias went into specifics about his experiences at Wheat Ridge High School and how it feels knowing that school is cancelled for the rest of the year. “I grew up in WRHS and the people there have seen me go from a troubled boy to an ambitious man. Between student senate and planning on being senior class speaker, I feel at home at my school and feel like a huge part of my life has been robbed.”

He elaborated more about some of his personal losses and why he believes that the president should have retaliated in a way that could’ve prevented all of this. Other students have agreed with Encinias and have shared their own personal thoughts about everything that’s going on through the use of different social media platforms. Teachers have sent out emails to students, reminding them to remain calm, take care of themselves, and follow protocol. 

Kim Ota, a senior at Wheat Ridge high school, also weighed in on the circumstances, expressing her sorrow and disappointment about the whole situation. “…When I first heard the news, it almost didn’t feel real and I cried over everything I wouldn’t be able to experience that I should have and all the people and things and experiences I wasn’t able to say goodbye to,” she stated. Ota explained that although being able to live through a historical event is pretty important, it doesn’t compensate for how she and others feel at the moment.

“It’s totally unfair that we worked so hard for these moments in this semester and we don’t get them. However, it is absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. Ota ended her statement by saying she is hopeful for the class of 2020 and hopes that she and her class can have some sort of prom and graduation ceremony, even if it’s in the summer. That’s what seems to be a huge concern for all parties involved.

Students have questions regarding graduation, prom, and other in-school activities and/or events, the hope of returning back to school a mere fantasy. In an interview on Monday, April 6, I had a brief call with Joshua Cooley, the principal of Wheat Ridge High School, in an attempt to answer questions about anything that could provide clarification for the student body.

 After Cooley was asked about prom and graduation, he answered by saying, “The chances for prom to be rescheduled are slim.” Although there are students who want prom to occur this year, they shouldn’t count on it to be postponed.

However, Cooley did discuss some details regarding graduation, for that is the biggest concern both parents and students have at the moment. “Since school will be cancelled until May, we are looking into options for another graduation ceremony.” 

Cooley, other principals, and district-level officials have been having weekly meetings that pertain to the welfare of all students. It’s more than obvious that people want to have a graduation ceremony and that the chances of having one are more likely. However, Cooley couldn’t say anything beyond what he knows and information that isn’t absolute. He wants to solidify any information before giving the public a false sense of hope or knowledge.

Cooley mentioned that parents and students should be receiving weekly notifications on Sundays to keep everybody posted on any new updates or changes. 

“We appreciate everyone’s patience. We’re working diligently to make sure that we are making the right choices for our students,” he said. Although this is only a small amount of information, it’s still enough to provide everybody with some context.

Retiring history teacher Stephanie Rossi has expressed her deep gloom for the situation, sending her students frequent messages through Google Classroom and other applications. On April 5, Rossi sent her classes a heartfelt message about how she’s feeling in regards to the recent news. Rossi feels that this is a time of mourning for everyone and that she, like most teachers and students, feels she didn’t have the chance to properly say goodbye to her students and her career.

“…I believe that we are all mourning that which we know, the patterns and habits of our lives have changed and we had no prep time to get ready,” she said. “This is going to take some time and I recognize that and I am going to take it day by day…YOU ALL, my students, you are the blessings of my career. Love you all, and see you soon.”

As a senior, this has been hard to take in for so many different reasons. The amount of hostility, aggression, and greed that I have seen is disheartening, and I feel for the people out there who are being affected by it. The overwrought responses from my peers has made this an even more difficult challenge to overcome, and I wish I could do something about it. Although a part of me is hopeless, another part of me wants to remain hopeful. On Friday, April 3, I wrote my own Facebook post regarding the matter, in hopes of mollifying the panic and dread the community has had to encounter prior and during this whole week.

“To say that I am both devastated and distraught is an understatement. I know that the class of 2020 wanted to make the last few months of senior year great, but I suppose that’s not the way things will work out at this time. I want to say thank you to my fellow peers, teachers, and advisers for helping me develop as not only a student, but as an individual. The memories I’ve made and the relationships that I’ve formed during the totality of my high school career are things that I will cherish forever. As we continue to persist during this time, we must reflect, remember, and reminisce on the happy moments. The purely raw, redolent, and radiant memories we made are the ones that have made us who we are. I know that some of my classmates are struggling to find a purpose now that some of their most precious endeavors were taken away from them, but I urge everyone to keep going. There’s so much in store for you all, giving up now would be merely fatuous. Things will work out. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others. Thank you, everyone. Stay safe and healthy.”

With a heavy heart, the class of 2020 must accept the abrupt end of senior year, despite its bitter implications. Although this time of our lives was cut short, and seniors aren’t able to experience some of their anticipated rites of passage, there are still so many opportunities waiting for us in the future, and we must continue to endure. In times of disparity, we come together in unity. We must come together, at a distance, and find patience within ourselves to deescalate the severity of the situation. As the times change, so will we.