Column: The ‘special’ class

TRL's Lulu Butler shares her thoughts on the unexpected end to her senior year.

Seniors+around+the+world+have%2C+and+will+continue+to%2C+miss+important+events+that+commemorate+big+milestones.+And+yes%2C+while+senior+prom%2C+graduation+parties%2C+or+senior+sports+seasons+may+not+seem+important+in+the+grand+scheme+of+life%2C+they%E2%80%99re+important+to+us+in+THIS+stage+of+our+lives.+

Courtesy of Lulu Butler

Seniors around the world have, and will continue to, miss important events that commemorate big milestones. And yes, while senior prom, graduation parties, or senior sports seasons may not seem important in the grand scheme of life, they’re important to us in THIS stage of our lives.

It’s funny that only one thing in life is certain, and that is change- change in your relationships, surroundings, family, work, education– and the list goes on. Some changes are expected, welcomed even, and others are, well, dreaded. 

For me, I’ve always dreaded leaving high school. 

I’ve always loved school, loved my friends and loved what I was involved in. High school has been my perfect little bubble, with all the people I love and the things I love to do wrapped up inside. As the time for college nears, I’m beyond excited to start a new chapter of my life, but I’ve always expected that saying goodbye to high school would be a tearful time.

What I didn’t expect-was that my senior year, would change in a matter of weeks, along with thousands of other seniors around the globe, 

Oh, and that it would get cut three months short.

Butler and her friends attend the last home football game of the season. Courtesy of Lulu Butler

When the school first released its announcement of extending spring break due to the coronavirus, I was thrilled. Just like many of my friends, I had NO idea the severity of the situation and was simply looking forward to another week off school. However, I was completely clueless about what was going to commence in the coming weeks and how this virus was going to affect the remainder of my senior year.

As the information about this pandemic changes weekly, it’s hard to remain hopeful about so many things I’ve looked forward to. I’ve watched the news daily with tears in my eyes understanding that my senior year is, quite possibly, already over. 

Seniors around the world have, and will continue to, miss important events that commemorate big milestones. And yes, while senior prom, graduation parties, or senior sports seasons may not seem important in the grand scheme of life, they’re important to us in THIS stage of our lives. 

It’s hard to understand that, while no one is to blame for these circumstances, this is completely unfair. The moments and events I’ve looked forward to for years– important life events that almost everyone experiences- are suddenly not guaranteed anymore. The fact that the Class of 2020, my graduating class, may not even have the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive a diploma breaks my heart.

As I’ve tried to make sense of all the craziness, I’ve looked back at the amazing year I’ve already had and all I can think about is how completely unexpected it was, and how much I took for granted. I was selfish to think I was guaranteed all these beautiful moments with the people who have such a big place in my heart. It’s selfish to think those moments, those memories, those celebrations are indebted to us. Who said I was owed that? 

Butler and her friends take pictures for their senior Homecoming. Courtesy of Lulu Butler

More than anything, I was ungrateful, ignorant even, of the beauty in the mundane– the routines and normalities of life in high school. I didn’t realize I would miss the teachers who always let me go to the vending machine during class, or the faces I would pass in the hall everyday. I didn’t realize I would miss giving a quick hug to friends in between classes, or painting posters and laughing in student council. I didn’t realize I would miss checking up on my teachers’ lives, and sitting in the library studying. I just didn’t realize.

And although I’m heartbroken about how the rest of the year might play out for seniors just like me, I’ve also come to understand that, within the midst of this outbreak, I’m extremely lucky that both my family and I are healthy and safe. I’m saddened for those suffering loss during these unprecedented times and those who live in fear of this pandemic affecting their loved ones.

Many have told me since the beginning of the school year that the Class of 2020 is “special”. Although hearing this has not made these hardships any easier, I full heartedly believe we are. This class was born in the midst of 9/11 and will graduate in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. We truly are living through a historical time in the world– something that our children will read about in textbooks one day.

It may not be what I would have wanted my senior year to look like, but what I will take away from this experience is invaluable. Although I hope for closure and yearn to go back to high school one last time, I’m grateful this experience has shown me just how lucky I am for the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had that have shaped me into who I am today.