When students of Tesoro High School’s class of 2020 were freshmen in 2016, the class shirt featured an eye chart design that complemented the class phrase “2020 Vision.” This class was one of clarity, a class with the eyesight every optometrist dreams of. Nevertheless, no amount of impeccable sight could have seen this pandemic coming.
Like the rest of the schools in California, Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita has suspended all in person classes.
Unfortunately, this suspension of classes has become more of an expulsion of in person learning as California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press conference April 1 schools across the state will remain closed throughout the end of the academic year.
Adding salt to the wound, non-academic events would begin joining in-person learning in the pile of cancelation. The most recent event to fall into this pile is the students’ Grad Night.
As of April 13, Universal Studios Hollywood has officially canceled the Universal Grad Bash 2020. The only consolation is a full refund which still isn’t much of a comfort to grieving students.
“Leading up to these ending months of senior year, there was so much in store, experiences and memories that money can’t buy,” senior Clara Meade said. “It feels as if it has been robbed from us.”
Just as Meade said, the refund can’t replace those special senior year memories that the students were looking forward to. Grad Night at Universal Studios is just one of many events that are slowly but surely being erased from the calendar.
In a recent email sent by the Chief Communications Officer of the Capistrano Unified School District, it was announced that a commencement ceremony on the scheduled day of June 4 would be unlikely.
The long-anticipated graduation ceremony is one of these experiences that money can’t buy.
Like many other students from different high schools, Tesoro seniors didn’t foresee that the events and milestones they’d been looking forward to for years would fall victim to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the pandemic and its succeeding damage, some students even feel as though the events being taken away were unnecessary.
“The cancelations were a bit of an overkill,” senior Dania Shiekh said about the loss of events such as prom and graduation. “I feel like it’s going to hurt a lot in the future when I see other classes getting to experience it.”
Rancho Santa Margarita has 14 cases out of its population of 48,950, according to the OC Healthcare Agency website.
Ladera Ranch, a neighboring city which is home to many Tesoro students, has 10 confirmed cases, and Mission Viejo has 39, according to the OC Healthcare Agency website.
Despite relatively low numbers and percentages of cases in these areas, social distancing rules are being followed to avoid an increase in these numbers and avoid the sickness and pain being seen on a global scale.
Yet in the process, the reality of social distancing has caused pain in the hearts of students.
While there are seniors like Shiekh that are upset over the derailment of the school year, other seniors are looking at the benefit of the cancelation of classes.
“School had become such a stressful environment that I was no longer able to enjoy being a high schooler,” senior Sheida Amin said. “I had lost interest in activities like prom and graduation, so I’m not upset about them being canceled.”
Nevertheless, the unforeseen conclusion has left students looking back with sorrowful nostalgia.
“I just wish I knew it would be my last day of high school, so I could’ve said goodbye to everyone,” senior Alexia Geffs said.
This is a wish held by many since the closing of schools was relatively unexpected despite the belief that schools would eventually be forced to close in the near future. On Friday, March 13, there was a buzz around campus that the school along with others in the area would be closed soon.
“Soon” actually meant the following Monday, March 16, after the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees decided to close the school immediately.
Spring Break was pushed forward to the week of March 16 as staff and administration now needed to navigate a digital learning system for all students.
“This was supposed to be the most exciting time of the year,” ASB secretary Courtney Theis said. “We already began planning our final events like senior luau, the clash of classes pep rally, spring dance and prom.”
Unfortunately, those events that senior classes of past years have enjoyed will not get to be experienced by the current seniors. The class did get to enjoy a few senior traditions like the Senior Sunrise, but the class will sadly not get to bookend their senior year with the Senior Sunset at the end of the year.
With or without events like the Senior Sunset or even a typical graduation ceremony, the senior class will still receive a diploma and move on to the next chapter of their lives.
“I wanted to spend these last few moments with everyone,” senior Brelynne Blair said.
College will split up many friends in just a few months, assuming schools and universities reopen by then. Sadly, this class won’t get to finish high school with their classmates and friends before heading their separate ways for college. Many students, like Blair, will be leaving Orange County for college. Some moving elsewhere in California or relocating to a completely new state and leaving behind the friends that characterized their high school experiences.
Even for those remaining in the area for college, like Caleb Arellano, stay-at-home orders have been hard on these students.
“When I work, sometimes my friends from school come in and it almost hurts to know that I may never see them again,” Arellano said. “I had three more months of school with them robbed from me.”
Though students like him will not be moving away for college, there is still a change in the season ahead of them that will not be cushioned by a memorable last year of high school. Their address may remain the same, but life will still look quite different, especially as friends and classmates go their separate ways.
Amongst the sorrow, frustration and isolation that is prevalent during this time, students are looking for the silver lining and even a lesson to be learned in this situation.
“Quarantine has taught me to count my blessings,” Joree Cronk said. “At the very least I’m safe, I’m home, I’m with my family and that, for now, is enough for me.”