ALEXANDRIA, VA – For the T.C. Williams High School Class of 2020, this year was supposed to mark a milestone in the path to adulthood, a graduation ceremony to commemorate four years of hard-fought class credits and a prom to celebrate the end of high school.
Instead, seniors are quarantined with their families with nothing to look forward to but an uncertain college career or the search of a job in a devastated economy.
The cancellations of the remainder of the school year by Governor Northam, as well as graduation, prom and the annual National Decision Day celebration have prompted nuanced feelings from seniors on how to move forward.
T.C. Turns to Social Media to Show Post-Graduation Plans
As a result of the setbacks, the class established an Instagram account, @tctitans_seniors, dedicating a post to each senior’s respective college and major, or their joining of the military or workforce in some cases.
“I saw that [the account] was started and I think that is a step in the right direction,” said senior Maddie Allen, who is attending University of Wisconsin next fall. “Hopefully we see something similar for prom and graduation!”
Students Hopeful for a Summer Graduation Ceremony
Students are still hopeful on some level about the prospects of a late-summer or online graduation.
“In an ideal situation, I want graduation pushed back until July at a time when we have widespread testing and it is safe to be in large groups of people,” said Allen. “However, I don’t think that will happen so an online graduation would be good too. I think that the administration has done the best they can with the end of senior year, and I understand that because we can’t meet in person or on school facilities that their hands are tied.
“I feel like online graduation would just be so much more difficult for not getting great satisfaction out of it,” said T.C. senior Anna Jerakis.
“I would rather have an in-person graduation that’s late than having one line because it’s not the same. But if we can’t do it later, like in July or August or something, maybe some type of social distancing graduation celebration thing, like, something where we can still wear our cap and gowns and be near each other.”
“I honestly don’t see any other options about what to do for graduation at this point as there is no other way to gather every senior and their families at one event whether it be online or in person,” said Jose Fernandez, a T.C. senior attending Virginia Commonwealth University next fall.
“But I feel the school has handled the end of the school year well as teachers and students have been flexible and very understanding with each other in doing what we can to finish our work from the third quarter and make our way into the fourth quarter.”
The Virginia Department of Education is moving to relax some of the requirements for graduation, and Advanced Placement (AP) exams are still taking place in shortened form.
The school administration is still moving forward with the manufacturing and distribution of yearbooks, as they were largely complete before the pandemic.