Emma Newman staff writer
Image of last year’s seniors before prom, photo courtesy of Cindy Newman
As a result safer-at-home, senior events such as grad night and prom have been cancelled, and graduation has been made entirely virtual. The majority of the 72 seniors who responded are upset about losing these events, according to a poll administered by Highlights.
Sixty-four percent of seniors said that they were upset about virtual graduation, 72% upset about losing prom and 54% upset about missing grad night. Of all of these events, seniors seemed the most upset about losing graduation, with 50% saying that this event loss was what disappointed them the most. For some, this is because on Friday, graduation changed from a drive-through ceremony to a virtual one.
In an email sent on May 15, Principal Mark Mead explained that drive-through graduation had to be canceled as a result of a new statement from the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Mead clarified that this would not cancel the already existing virtual graduation, and that his thoughts are with the seniors.
“Once again, we will experience the pain of another loss for our seniors, but, as always, we will continue to work together as a Norman family to support one another and find success where obstacles present themselves,” Mead said.
Senior Isabella Sanchez said she was “devastated,” as she was looking forward to drive-by graduation because of TikTok videos she had seen.
“The moment I read the first sentence of the email Mr. Mead sent, I knew it’ll be cancelled,” Sanchez said via text. “I just couldn’t believe it and I still have hope that the school will make something for the seniors because, as [of] right now, we didn’t have anything this year.”
Senior Leila Nourmand was not as excited for drive-by graduation as Sanchez, but she is still unhappy that it was cancelled.
“As much as I didn’t love the idea [of drive-by graduation], it was better than nothing,” Normand said via text. “How is it fair McDonald’s is still open, but we can’t do the same thing? I don’t blame the school obviously, but this is ridiculous.”
Sanchez is mostly upset because she feels like she is missing out on the true meaning of graduation.
“I was really looking forward to walking across the stage, hearing my family scream my name as they announced my name, shaking my principal’s [hand], looking at my classmates for the last time and being able to throw my cap in the air and having that feeling of excitement and accomplishment,” Sanchez said.
A senior from the Highlights poll, who did not include their name on the survey, who had been home-schooled throughout most of high school, feels like their return to school was a waste.
“The main reason my mother and I decided it would be best for me to return to public school is because of the experiences I’d have missed out on being home schooled,” the senior wrote. “It…feels like I should’ve continued to do what I had been doing because either way, I won’t get to experience prom, grad night with friends or a traditional graduation.”
Sanchez is also upset that she won’t be able to have the experiences that other seniors get to have.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that I didn’t get to experience my senior year the way I imagined it. All [of] my senior activities were taken away from me and my fellow classmates and it hurts a lot,” Sanchez said. “It’ll be hard to tell my future kids how my senior year went and what I did.”
Senior Loren Ahdoot is upset for a completely different reason, though: she is upset with the school’s response.
“Although times are tough, and we can’t have a normal graduation, students were provided a survey about graduation accommodations in which the student voice was ultimately disregarded,” Ahdoot said in the poll.
Nourmand also finds it upsetting that the seniors are not allowed to be involved in what is going on, even though she understands why the events were cancelled. She finds the new accommodations “unfair” and “completely ridiculous.”
Senior Steven Aceti is disappointed as well, but he knows why the accommodations were necessary.
“I am sad that I will not have a normal graduation or prom, though I would much rather be safe and have everyone else be safe as well,” Aceti said via text.
Aceti also sympathizes with the district, and he thinks that they handled the situation relatively well.
“I don’t blame the school or the district for this. I understand that the circumstances that cancelled the senior activities are not the fault of the district, and that they are doing their best with the options left,” Aceti said. “If anything, it is because of the disastrous response of the federal government in containing this pandemic.”
While most seniors are upset about the current situation, Sanchez is not as disappointed as she was originally. This is because she has chosen to look at the upside of the situation.
“I try to think of it as a positive thing,” Sanchez said. “The class of 2020 will be legendary. It’ll be the class that everyone in the world will talk about for years.”
She also understands that she is not alone in this experience, and that she is having the same experience as every other senior class.
“I realized [that] my classmates and I aren’t the only people going through this,” Sanchez said. “People who are graduating from high schools and colleges won’t get to experience their graduation as well. I understand why all of our activities were cancelled due to a pandemic. Knowing that there was a reason behind it, I’m okay with it.”