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Commentary Coronavirus Education

El Paso High School senior mourns missing out on graduation traditions

By Anneliese Huenneke/El Paso High School

Something that is instilled in students from the moment they enter kindergarten is our high school graduation. For some students, this is the only ceremony they will get to experience if they choose a path other than college.

Anneliese Huenneke’s senior picture (Photo by Dan Dalstra)

Many seniors have had to overcome their own personal struggles just to walk across the platform stage. For me, it was the passing of my dad. I had imagined walking down the concrete stadium, not only accomplishing something for myself, but for my dad as well. My graduation was for me and for him. Not everyone’s struggle was as drastic, but is just as important. 

Seniorits is a real thing. There were many moments throughout senior year where I questioned studying for a test, going to a class, or doing an assignment, but then I found myself thinking of how close I was to graduation. I was motivated by the idea that the work would be over soon and the fun part of senior year would begin. 

I had already bought my prom dresses and was looking forward to the “night of nights,” as Disney’s “High School Musical” says. I had just started my first real relationship with a boy and was looking forward to all the cheesy firsts that come with a high school relationship. My mom had invited numerous family and friends to see me graduate at the historic R.R. Jones Stadium on May 27. She even got me a bracelet with the date of my graduation for Christmas! (Which has since been burned.) 

A senior’s regrets

Instead of ending senior year with an appreciation of the four-year journey, I am ending it with regret. If I had known what I know now, I would have cried a little harder at Eve of the E. I would have stayed longer at our Spring Fiesta. I would have gone out with my friends more. I would put more effort into my assignments. I would (try) not to ditch any of my classes. I wouldn’t complain about the four flights of stairs at El Paso High.  I would have appreciated all the moments that seemed insignificant at the time. I would have lived more. 

El Paso High students celebrated during the school’s traditional Eve of the E homecoming celebration on Oct. 9, 2019. (Photo by Yulene Hernandez)

I remember constantly complaining to my AP environmental science teacher about how I couldn’t wait to graduate. Turns out, I can wait. 

I have spent most of my days inside my house crying, trying to fill a void by going for a run or sitting outside.  I find it hard to finish school, even with the little workload there is. As the senior class president, I get sad thinking about all the activities my peers and I are missing out on that most people have had the chance to experience. I find it extremely difficult to not ponder what could have been. 

Let graduating seniors express their feelings

Let me make this clear: this situation is not fair to the class of 2020. There has never been another event like it for a graduating class, and even if there was, everyone has a right to their own emotions. Let students be upset and do NOT invalidate their feelings. 

El Paso High students danced at Spring Fiesta on Feb. 22, one of the last celebrations before the campus was closed because of COVID-19. (Photo by Laura Barrios Bardi)

Even through my sadness, I recognize how severe the situation is. As much as I wish I could see my peers and hug my teachers one last time, I know it is not safe. Due to the virus, thousands of lives have been taken too soon. 

As there are still many unknowns about COVID-19, there are also many unknowns about our futures. Will we get to enter our first semester of college? Another considerably huge milestone. 

As a high school senior, I beg that you stay home if you can. I know this is an inconvenient time for everybody, but if all you have to do is stay at home to save thousands of lives, why wouldn’t you?

Anneliese Huenneke is the senior class president of El Paso High School.

Cover photo: El Paso High School’s class of 2020 ran around the R.R. Jones Stadium field during the Eve of the E homecoming festivities on Oct. 9, 2019. The class’s commencement was supposed to have taken place on the same field May 27. (Photo by Sandra Ganem)


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