Waukon High School student newspaper editor-in-chief shares some thoughts on the COVID-19 impact on her Class of 2020

Editor’s Note: Olivia Opat is a senior at Waukon High School and the editor-in-chief of the Waukon High School student newspaper, The Tribune, that prints monthly in The Standard during the school year. With schools being closed until mid-April at this point due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the likelihood of no April edition of that student newspaper and the uncertainty of what the remainder of this school year will bring, Olivia wanted to share the following perspective on behalf of her fellow seniors:

I am Olivia Opat and I am a senior at Waukon High School. I wanted to share the things that have been going through my mind lately with the COVID-19 upon us.
As we all know, schools around the state and country have been put on hold while we try to slow down the spread of this virus. Most students have been enjoying this time off and I cannot blame them. I would be too if I was not a senior. I wanted to share what it is like to be a part of the Class of 2020 during this time.
We look forward to the day we get to call ourselves seniors from the time we walked through the high school. We started out as scared freshmen with no clue what we were doing. We became overconfident sophomores because we made it through our freshman year.
We then went into our junior year with the mindset that we only have one more year until we are the seniors of the high school. Then it finally comes. We are seniors. The excitement has kicked in and we are ready for what is to come.
We go into our senior year with our friends by our sides and our heads held high. A majority of us spent the entire summer ready for it to be over just so we could start our senior year. On social media, many people will see an overload of our senior pictures because we only get to post them once. We turned our college or job applications in and we cried when we got accepted to the college of our dreams.
We got ready for Friday Night Lights with our friends and we finally got to be in the coveted front row of the student section. We were able to lead the cheers for our players and community to hear.
When winter came, things finally started to settle down. This was our chance to buckle down and get excited for the second semester. Second semester is when everything goes fast. Prom planning starts as soon as school starts back up, our graduation invites are on their way to houses, our caps and gowns come in, and everything starts to get real.
That is how it is supposed to go for every senior, every year.
But the Class of 2020 did not get the second part of it all. We all sit here on this “break” and wonder what our yearbook will look like. Will it have blank pages where our Prom pictures were supposed to be? What about commencement?
We started having our “lasts” without even knowing it at the time. We did not know we were not going to get to experience everything we once thought we would. We do not get to dress up for Prom and laugh at our dress choices ten years from now. All of that was taken from us.
We worked so hard for the last 12 years of our lives and now we question if we will even get the chance to show it. We lost our chance to make our last memories with our friends, our peers and our teachers who shaped who we are. Now our parents may never get to see us walk across that stage to accept our diploma.
We might never get to make those memories that everyone else has of their senior year. When we started our senior year, we did not expect to have to say goodbye so fast; we thought we would have more time.
I hope for the next class that they will get to experience what we may not be able to; and to the past seniors, thank you for giving us something to look forward to for all those years. For everyone reading this, please do not take your senior year memories for granted.
The Class of 2020 must stay strong and support each other through this and remember that none of us are alone. We don’t know what would have been but we can create what will be.
So, for as disappointed and as lost as we feel, we are still thankful for everything we did get to experience. We will never forget the moments that brought us together as a class, as well as the memories that will stay with us as we carry on.

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