By Kinnidy Thoreson, Contributing Writer and current senior at Woodruff High School
If you’re like most of us, Woodruff has always been what most of us would consider safe, distant, and isolated from the rest of the world. A naive perspective, maybe, but I have never lived through a time when something came to Woodruff that was as serious or threatening as the coronavirus.
As a Woodruff High School senior, the COVID-19 outbreak has been the only thing in my lifetime that caused weeks out of school and a scramble to put homework together. I’ll admit that I, along with most other people my age, did not take the coronavirus seriously at first. Slowly, though, it became impossible to not notice the community’s precautions, quarantine, and otherwise endearing efforts to come together in these hard times.
As someone who thrives on volunteering and serving the community, it is extremely difficult to sit at home until I remind myself that the best thing we can do for our community is to stay home and find any way we can to slow the progression of the virus. Of course, it is difficult to know that my senior year in high school will be told differently than my sisters’ and many others’. Even staying in quarantine until the end of April as we’re slated to now, I’ve missed visits to the soup kitchen with Maroon On A Mission, three weeks with my friends, and a senior spring break that I have been wondering about for close to 12 years. If quarantine must be extended again and even farther, there is a chance that I’ve missed more than just my senior prom and countless other “last moments” in high school.
In the end, I’ll never know what these days could have amounted to under other conditions, and there’s no real point in dwelling on the “what ifs.” Frankly, we can be sorry that our senior year has been interrupted or we can be thankful that we get these days with our families at all. We can be thankful for rest, time to think, and the health of our friends and families in this time of crisis.
Sure, I have had lots of homework and confusion and longing the past few weeks, but eventually I stopped letting myself forget about how blessed I am to be safe. I am immeasurably grateful that we are all taking the precautions necessary to keep each other safe, even if this means staying home and forcing myself to do homework for a few weeks.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on this serious health emergency, and really all I know about is my own experience from staying to myself the past few weeks. At first, my greatest worry was whether graduation would be the same. If there was anything I was unwilling to give up, it was walking across the stage to get my diploma in May after all my effort over the years. I have had lots of time to think since then, of course, and again I come back to the reality that, if it means that everyone in Woodruff is safe from the virus, I don’t mind telling a story of a postponed or otherwise untraditional graduation.
In the end, all we can do is pray for each other and keep in our hearts those who are more severely affected by this outbreak. I personally value the extra time to do bible studies, call and check on my grandparents and do homework on my own time. The time that we have been given alone or with our families will be whatever we make of it and we can either choose anxiety or we can choose to make the best of what we’ve been given.
I will be praying for all those at risk and all who may be having a harder time with social distancing than others. Seniors in college, for example, have for the most part already had the last few months of school taken away. In other states, like New Mexico, shelter in place orders were in effect at press time. My childhood friend Marina Jones, a freshman at Anderson University, recently told me a story of sad, early goodbyes to senior friends and these realizations have been made in colleges worldwide.
In this difficult time, I hope that we can all be grateful that, in the face of social distancing, technology makes it possible to be connected and safe at the same time. I also pray that we can use this time well, and keep our heads up by encouraging each other, being productive, and thanking God for all the blessings that we have even in uncertainty. As a high school senior, I may have held a lot of expectations for each day that passes, and I may be sad about those things which are passing by. However, the reality of a “bigger picture” where we are safe discredits any longing for tradition that upsets me about this quarantine.
As we’re locked in our houses, I hope we don’t forget that we are no less of a community. I hope we realize that every second in quarantine is a display of compassion for one another as we do everything we can to protect each other from COVID-19. To the rest of the Class of 2020, let us not forget that we are not owed these few weeks of school no matter how long we looked forward to them. Let us not forget that the health of those we love will always come before our expectations.