Strange senior year as Class of 2020 faces pandemic

From Issue 8

Head of School Lawrence Coco welcomes seniors to the drive-thru lunch early in the quarantine.

Through a string of emails over a few weeks, everything changed for the entire Prep community as the world shut down. All planned events, gatherings, sports, and other national events were cancelled, and Prep was not an exception. However, the students and teachers were still able to gather due to the implementation of remote learning. 

This sudden progression of events left many in shock and disbelief, as they read that the campus of Jackson Prep has been closed for what would turn into the remainder of the school year. As Spring Break came to a close, students saw that school was postponed until the decision was made that the campus of Jackson Prep closed until further notice. From the postponement and eventual cancellation of all MAIS sports to the simple daily interaction of students, COVID-19 changed the daily schedules of Prep families entirely. 

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world as a whole, and that includes the seniors at Jackson Prep, whose final term couldn’t be more different from previous years. Spring Break of 2020 was the last time that school was held on campus, and many seniors were disappointed to hear that they would have to finish out the year through remote learning instead of being on campus with their classmates as usual. Sports, such as track and baseball, were postponed until they were finally cancelled on Tuesday, April 28 by the MAIS. 

One major event that occurred after the pandemic broke out was prom, which occurred in a different setting than normal. Seniors were given an Amazon gift card as a gift from Prep, and teachers were given a Newk’s gift card as a gift to remind the students and teachers that the administration was thinking about them during the period of social distancing. 

Students were able to get dressed up at home and send in their virtual prom pictures to Prep. Some students put together a Zoom call with some of their classmates to have a prom-like event while at home. 

However, the school is saying that there is a possibility of having an event similar to prom in the early months of summer on Prep’s campus.

Prep seniors had their last day of class on Wednesday, May 6, and they dropped off their books on May 7. The senior class of 2020’s Class Day was held on Friday, May 9, which was the only online class day besides the ninth grade class day. The rest of the grades will receive their awards via email, and the physical awards will be sent to the students through the mail. Exams are cancelled schoolwide, with the exception of AP and dual enrollment classes. 

It has been a large adjustment for seniors to make in such a short period of time. Alice Ann Hollingsworth said that while she “would rather spend the end of [her] senior year in school with [her] friends,” she “really appreciates everything that the teachers and administration are doing to make our senior year feel special despite the current circumstances.” Sarah Douglas Craig has said that “getting up and fixing [her] coffee before classes has definitely helped motivate [her] to get through [her] classes.”

Griffin Dulaney has enjoyed the change to remote learning, and he says that activities at his house keep him occupied during the day. Mary Noble Howard has “learned more through remote learning than [she] could have ever learned in a desk – ‘I’ve been taught more life lessons and come to realize so much more good in the world than I was aware of before.’” Thomas Swayze said, “I’ve been baking a lot with my mom, so she and I have become a lot closer than we were before.”

Seniors will be able to pick up their diplomas on May 18 from Prep, but there will be no traditional graduation ceremony at the end of the year. The school has set the date for graduation on Thursday, July 23, and the school hopes it will be able to be held at Thalia Mara Hall. However, these dates and the location are still subject to change as new information becomes available. 

The historic ending to this year has been a definite adjustment for all students, especially the seniors who have had to spend their final term in a period of social distancing and quarantine. The quick action of the administration has allowed the students to use remote learning, which is important since they can now finish all of their classes and graduate.