To all of the graduating seniors out there, Do NOT let this dictate how your senior year ends
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
By Kelly L. Sherlock
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When I was in college, I was a part of a sorority and it was the best decision I had ever made.  I loved everything about college and Greek life.  I had the best group of friends and each year was better than the next.  In my senior year, for reasons that are not really relevant, my friends and I were told that we would not be a part of our final Fall Party (which, at the time, was the best party of the year).  We were totally bummed until we had the best idea ever.  We would create our own Fall Party!  With our “What Fall Party” t-shirts and half of our chapter (and some alums) we headed to New Orleans and created our own party.  It ended up being one of the most fun and memorable nights of my college experience!  What’s my point?  My point is that we write our own endings and we have the power to change the narrative.

 

Our high school and college seniors have found themselves in a situation that just plain sucks.  From March to May, as a senior, you experience the best parts of senior status: Prom, Senior Day, senior Breakfast, Spring Parties, final days on campus, and, of course, Graduation.  Taking final exams and walking out of school for the last time with my friends was a memory that I cherished from my time in high school and in college and to lose those moments is truly unfair and emotional.  So, let’s try to change that.

 

While you are home and have a ton of time on your hands, which I assume most of you do, start thinking about what you will miss the most in the next two months of your senior year.  Maybe you are a high school senior on the baseball team and you will miss the senior game.  Then play it!  Start reaching out to your coaches and teammates and start conversations now about what you guys can do when these restrictions are lifted and we can all be together again.  See about reaching out to another high school team that would be interested in playing in the summer so that the seniors can have a game or two to have some kind of closure to this.  Let them be announced on to the field and let their parents be announced on to the field so that those moms have the joy of throwing out the first pitches (shout out to my Rummel Raiders).  They have waited a long time for that moment too.

 

Maybe it is prom that stands out the most to you.  Have a prom!  There are so many places that would be more than happy to help you out under the circumstances.  Start using your resources; your parents!  Figure out if you have any parents that have contacts at a venue, a hotel, even a gym and see if they would host you.  Have a senior breakfast.  Talk to some restaurants about giving you a deal on a private room or maybe there is a parent in the senior class that is a caterer.  Utilize them! Who cares where it is and what it looks like?   It is all about the experience, the memory.  

 

Some schools out there may not do much to have graduation.  I cannot imagine why they would not, but if you find yourself in that situation, have your own graduation.  Again, connect with your follow classmates and your family.  Get with those who are interested in seeing it through and use this time to create a plan and get people talking.  

 

For my college seniors, there is no doubt in my mind that my friends and I would have a plan to be in Hattiesburg (Southern Miss graduate here) during the summer to have one last week/ weekend on campus!  I know we would have a hotel room or two (or stay with friends that might live there) and we would spend the week doing our favorite Hattiesburg things and soaking up our last week/ weekend together.  It would be the best time we have ever had and I know that to be true.

 

The point is, do not just sit there.  Do something!  Be sad, sure, but then, be proactive and productive.  Be creative and make some memories.  So what if it will not look the way you thought it would?  Some of the best memories are made from mishaps and imperfections.  

This is a part of your story and someone took out the last page so take it upon yourself to rewrite it.

 

 

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Bill - To graduating seniors, I would say this: I’m sorry that you might not have the opportunity to march across the stage to receive your well earned diploma. Feel sorry for yourself for an hour or so. Then, get over it. Reflect, instead, on those young boys in the 1940’s, many 17 years old or younger, who chose country over graduation. Many sacrificed much more than a diploma or prom. Thousands died in the hills of Italy, the hedgerows of Europe and the jungles of Pacific islands. I’m sure they would have preferred to do what normal high schoolers do. You’re being asked to give up things that will still allow you to live normal and hopefully, long lives. You are being asked to self isolate and practice self distancing. They were asked the ultimate sacrifice. Think of them. Then, your circumstances might not seem unbearable.