(Kevin Chang / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: I refuse to let COVID-19 take away my last semester of high school

Orange County School of the Arts closed its campus for the rest of the school year. All school social gatherings and performances are canceled for the rest of the year, California declared a statewide lockdown, and the cherry on top of it all: California schools shut down for the rest of the year.

My friends and I panicked. We never realized that March 13 would be our last day of high school, and our last day of laughs and moments together before we head off to college.

I knew from the start that senior year would be a year full of change, but I never expected this much change. Every day the death toll of this virus rises, and I sit here feeling guilty and selfish for wanting more time with my friends, classes and school lunches.

In life, people have these “movie moments” that happen very far and few in between. Whether it’s chasing your soulmate before they catch the next plane to Europe or kissing that boy you like in the pouring rain. These are the movie moments I’d thought maybe would occur in my life.

In my senior year of high school, I had my first movie moment, but not in the way I expected. I was sitting in my car in the middle of a shopping center parking lot, and I was at the beginning of an apocalyptic movie like “Bird Box” or “A Quiet Place.” A lady rushes past me with four shopping carts overflowing with food and supplies. I look to my left at the bank, there’s a long line of people wrapping around the front of the building waiting for tellers.

There are people rushing and yelling at the ATMs. I hear a loud crash in front of me, two cars just had a collision. Around this scene, everyone is running and yelling as things become more and more chaotic. I sink down in my seat waiting for the director of this movie to call cut, but no one does.

This is my new reality.

I remember thinking, maybe I should just wait until things calm down to go into CVS, but things would never calm down. When I finally muster up the courage to head into CVS, the shelves are barren of everything on my list, including alternate items.

I head home empty-handed.

I turn on the news in high hopes that there’s some sort of silver lining to this pandemic, instead, I find news reports that contradict each other. America, a leading world country has no preparation or plan to handle this pandemic. Throughout the week more and more bad new floods my inbox.

I know once this pandemic is over we will all be able to hang out with our friends again, but it won’t be the same. We will never have a chance to laugh together uncontrollably in class, study together at lunch, nerd out together after school about our favorite TV shows and webtoons, dance together on 10th Street in Santa Ana, walk to our next class together, or stay late after school for rehearsal.

Most of us will never get the chance to go to prom or grad night. Those activities presented an opportunity to make additional, last high school memories together before going off to college.

The world will be changed forever once this is all over, but for me, this doesn’t feel like the end of my high school journey. I refuse to let the coronavirus abruptly close this chapter of my life.

I don’t feel sad, angry, or frustrated. I know a lot of these circumstances are out of my control. I will try to make the best with what I have. I will hold onto a glimmer of hope that I can laugh uncontrollably in class and dance on 10th Street with my friends one last time.