Missed Milestones: How the Coronavirus impacts high school seniors


Art by Danielle Denman

This illustration depicts the many concerns of the Class of 2020.

Danielle Denman, Editor

As of April 7th, thirteen states have closed all K-12 schools through the end of the academic year, with two more states recommending similar actions. With a growing number of cases in Massachusetts, and other states, we can not ignore the possibility of a prolonged school closure. 

Faced with this reality, high school seniors are beginning to fear the long term implications for both their high school and college experiences. With the lack of information about the virus and its behavior, and no definitive end to this pandemic, students do not yet know the magnitude of these changes. 

Seniors have an obligation to their community to distance themselves, even though they are actively losing their remaining days with their teachers and peers. April through June of senior year is often perceived as the “Golden Age” of high school. For many, missing these two months will not be easy. 

Graduation and Prom

As of now, there are no intentions to cancel the graduation ceremony and senior prom, as GHS is also scheduled to return to school on May 4th. 

“Graduation and senior prom are currently scheduled as planned,” said the 2020 Class Advisor Tracy Lowthers. “If anything changes in the near future, seniors will be entitled to a celebration over the summer when deemed safe for everyone.”

Senior Celebrations

However, there are other smaller, senior specific events seniors will likely lose. For example, the Senior Banquet, an event that is integral to the memories of many GHS alumni. The status of the Senior Banquet is currently unknown, as it will primarily rely on the actions the venues will take.

“We have fully paid for the Senior Banquet, but we’re not sure if they’re going to give us our money back and let us reschedule, or just get our money back and not have it,” said GHS senior and student council member Willow Phoenix. “If they end up cancelling, everyone will get their money back.” 

GHS senior Meagan Gallo is also worried about smaller events and traditions if school closures extend further. 

“I’m really hoping that Friday the 13th was not our last day of high school,” said Gallo. “It’s really sad that we are missing out on so much of our senior year and that we may not go back. All the little small events like Senior Cookout and Senior Spirit Week probably won’t end up being rescheduled.”


Another obstacle the Class of 2020 may face is financial loss due to the closure of many restaurants, beaches, and unessential stores. All of these places commonly employ teenagers both seasonally and year round. 

“I’m worried about how I’ll be saving money for college first of all,” wrote GHS senior and Gloucester lifeguard Nicolle Fernandes. 

Students who work through summer to save for college risk losing money to support themselves through the school year. They also may experience setbacks if they plan to work during school breaks to begin chipping away at student loans. 

Transition to Higher Education

For some seniors, the possibility of starting their first semester of university online is daunting. The transition from high school to college, as well as an increase in workload will likely be magnified by limitations to resources and a designated learning environment. 

“You don’t get the same learning experience online. Personally I focus and pay more attention in a classroom setting than at home, and online classes don’t give me the same learning experience that would be worth the thousands of dollars for tuition,” said GHS senior Marisa Neves. 

“I’m so excited for my college experience,” wrote Fernandes. “I’d be broken if we lost that going in as freshmen.”

Transportation and Housing

The possibility of a resurgence of this virus, and the effects it may have on international and out of state student transportation and housing now will also be a factor for college decisions. Though most colleges have extended their 2024 decision dates, choosing an out of state school still remains a risk for both students and parents. 

“I am mostly worried about the ability to get [my child] home should a resurgence happen after she is away,” said Eve Parisi, a mother of a GHS senior. “I also feel colleges shouldn’t be asking for deposits while we are in such uncertain times.”

The Takeaway

Right now, unfortunately, there are more questions than answers. But there is no doubt the senior class will be in a unique position in the next academic year, whether the spread of the virus peaks tomorrow, or peaks two months from now. 

It is reasonable to have these concerns and important to ask questions. Though keep in mind that every generation has had its hardships, whether it be 9/11, the threat of nuclear warfare, or depressions. Now, instead of being sheltered from these harsh realities, it is time for seniors to face them. 

Show your support for seniors, and send your love. Though most have been blessed with good health and support systems, they still have suffered loss. Right now, empathy, support, and taking the proper precautions is the best way to keep each other sane, grateful, and determined to stop the spread of COVID-19.