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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Coronavirus – The Senior Memories Thief

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Natalie Bianchi
Natalie Bianchi
Natalie Bianchi is currently a senior at Sanford School, where she has spent the last twelve years. She is excited to attend the University of Lynchburg majoring in Psychological Science and minoring in Spanish in order to pursue her dream of becoming a physical therapist. In her spare time she enjoys playing sports and watching Netflix.

Clockwise from top left: Sanford’s Corey Perkins, Padua’s Abby Leach, Charter School of Wilmington’s Seth Ciolkosz, Ursuline’s Mia Aube and Caroline Knight, and Sanford’s Natalie Bianchi

I have seen articles, videos, and songs written about how the Class of 2020 feels about missing what is supposed to be the most fun months of their final high school year. But I was surprised to find very few written from the perspective of the students themselves.

This is why I took the initiative to write this very article. How this pandemic affects high school seniors should be heard directly from the Class of 2020’s perspectives.

In order to get the point of view from people of different schools, I asked a few friends to help share their thoughts about lost athletic seasons, the tough part about staying connected as friends and a spring season that just hasn’t turned out lie it should have. 

 

Padua’s Abby Leach

A longtime friend, Abby Leach from Padua Academy, explained how “the most upsetting thing is the reality of never being able to go to class at Padua ever again.”

She went on to tell me how, “most people around the world were lucky enough,” to experience the specific memories that come with being a senior in high school, and how she feels, “robbed” of them.

Mia Aube (center, back row) was part of UA’s 2019 State Championship Cross Country team

Ursuline’s Mia Aube

Mia Aube, a senior at Ursuline is an Ursuline “lifer.” She’s been at UA since the age of three, and the four-year athlete was captain of the cross country and indoor track teams and is co-captain of the spring Track and Field Team.

She hoped to close out her senior year filled with great memories of friendships formed on the track.

“It definitely was a bummer having to find out that we would be doing school from home and wouldn’t be able to do spring sports. It’s a big change in routine having to practice and prepare for sports without your teammates.

 

“Keeping everyone motivated is more important now more than ever,” she said. “And we’re still holding out for the possibility of having some part of a spring season.”

This would be Mia’s 15th year at Ursuline. So she was looking forward to many spring traditions that she is well familiar with. “We love to do senior pranks in April and May — just like harmless little things that nobody really knows when they’re coming. But we’re also missing the promise of graduation and prom and things like that,” she says.

Seth Ciolkosz – playing lacrosse for CSW, before prom (a few years ago), and at home

Charter School of Wilmington’s Seth Ciolkosz

Not only are we missing our proms and spending time with our friends for the last time as we turn the page and begin the next chapter in our lives, but we are also missing typical traditions such as something as simple as walking across the stage to receive our diplomas. 

“Most of us feel as though we are being robbed of a true high school experience,” my friend Seth Ciolkosz of the Charter School of Wilmington said. “And that might be the most upsetting part.”

 

Sanford’s Corey Perkins

Corey Perkins is a classmate of mine from Sanford — my home away from home for twelve years now. While I am filled with deep sadness about opportunities missed, Corey now faces an entirely new set of choices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corey, a standout on Sanford’s Varsity basketball team, was one of three players on our team named to the First Team All-State. Corey hoped to be seen by Division 1 coaches during the semi-final and perhaps the championship games — both were supposed to be played at the Bob Carpenter Center at UD.

Corey Perkins (on right) is crushed to miss his final year of basketball. The championship matchup will go down in Delaware high school basketball history as “The Greatest Game Never Played.”

Those games weren’t played, and now Corey is considering playing a post-grad year of prep school to have one more chance to play at a big-time university. 

“I will never forget that day (March 12). We had just suited up for practice, and (Head of Athletics Joan Samoniski) told the girls and boys teams that the season was over, and my heart just dropped. I like — Wow, it’s really over.

“I didn’t know what to think. I was confused, angry, sad. So I put on my clothes, didn’t talk to anybody, and I just went home and went to sleep. I kept hoping that I would wake up in the morning and it was going to be different — like maybe the DIAA would change their minds.”

 

“I’ve played at the Bob Carpenter Center every single year. Those games are probably the single greatest memories I have at Sanford, and to miss the opportunities to play there my senior year — it’s just unreal,” he said.

Corey was also supposed to be playing AAU basketball this spring. Last weekend he would have been in Texas with that team. “So I thought everything was going to work out — that I would be playing college basketball somewhere next year,” he said.

Caroline Knight and Mia Aube were co-captains of UA’s 2019 State Champion cross country team. With (l to r) assistant coach Brittany Keller, coach Jim Fischer and coach Melanie Aube (Mia’s mom)

Ursuline’s Caroline Knight

Student Council President, Lacrosse Co-Captain and four-year varsity athlete Caroline Knight is also disappointed about missing so many senior milestones and her last season of sports at Ursuline.

“My best friend Maxine and I came into the senior season, and we kind of made this plan — I was going to get 100 goals, and she was going to get 100 assists. And then having this whole coronavirus experience play out — it left us all kind of devastated. The seniors were all really looking forward to having one last run,” she said.

Caroline Knight with her dad at the Ursuline Father-Daughter Dance in February

Knight, who had 75 goals last year, will be playing lacrosse for Salsbury College next year, majoring in either biology or animal science. But she had some living to do this spring, like all seniors.

“I was like — why is it this year? What is happening to us, as seniors, all across the world? Just very disappointing and sad that it had to be this year because we don’t get another chance to have a senior year.”

I helped my mom Thomasine Bianchi surprise Sanford seniors by delivering yard signs to them last week

I’ll miss my teachers, games, and incredible times with friends

I have a deep personal connection with Sanford School. As a “lifer” I’ve had the chance to make lasting friendships since first grade. I have gone to cotillions and homecomings, participated in moving up ceremonies in both fourth and eighth grades.

Yet, there is something about the senior year experience that is so much more different. I won’t see the people I have become friends with every day anymore. I won’t get to complain about that one class that dragged on forever anymore.

I won’t get to visit my old teachers any chance I have free time anymore. I won’t get one last “stress-free day” or field day pep-rally. I won’t get one last sports game.

Sanford’s Volleyball Senior recognition dinner – treasuring our times together as teammates and with our parents

I have proudly worn a Sanford sports uniform for the last twelve seasons, and I may not be able to have that thirteenth and final season. I may not have one last prom, which is something everyone looks forward to as a senior.

I might not be able to walk across the Sanford stage in front of my family to show everyone I finally made it. Most importantly, I might not get that one last hurrah with my classmates. 

 

Looking ahead to the start of our freshman year in college, the last thing any of us want is for our fall semester to be held online. Senior year in high school and fall freshman year in college are two of the biggest moments in a student’s life, and if we are robbed of both, I, for one, would be devastated.

Abby also told me how she thinks she’s, “going to be less prepared,” referring to the start of her college years, mainly because she “won’t be in an actual school environment for so long before starting.”

In contrast, Seth believes, “there will be a decent learning gap that comes from holding class online.” He continued by explaining that he is “not really worried because colleges know there will be a gap and have time to account for it.”

Natalie’s friends celebrating the Sanford prom last year

Quite honestly, I agree with both statements. Part of me believes it will feel unusual to be back in a traditional classroom environment, but another part of me is hopeful that colleges have a plan to account for the current state we are in. 

No matter what the future holds, we continue to positively move forward with our new normal as best we can.  We attend our virtual classes, chatting with friends and teachers remotely.

We feel a little better knowing we aren’t alone in what we are going through.  We are all in this together. And we will all look back on this unique experience with an understanding that only we, the Class of 2020, share.

Of course, I have to give a shout out to my friends in the class of 2020 at Sanford

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