Class of 2020 plans foiled by COVID-19

Due to the continuing stay at home order, schools across America have begun to cancel class of 2020’s graduations, proms and all sorts of commemorating events to protect the health of the nation.

In a press release from Governor Tom Wolfe, all Montgomery public schools were cancelled due to COVID-19 on March 12th that would result in the graduating class of 2020’s senior year being cut three months short.
The effects of this on the class of 2020 include the postponing of prom, an online graduation, a cancelled spring sports season, and according to senior Bella Taylor, growing uncertainty of senior week.
In a statement released on the Souderton high school website, senior prom was cancelled. The school recognized the impact of the cancellation stating that the “loss of this once-in-a-lifetime memory is among the most difficult social results from the pandemic.”
Student government president Grace Kelley is unsure as to what the future holds for prom, but is working with some fellow student government members to create an unofficial student-run prom styled event for seniors. They have tentatively set a timeline for August, contingent on social distancing laws.
Besides the loss of the “once-in-a-lifetime memory”, there is a financial impact on families. A Visa survey in 2015 found that on average a prom dress would cost $919 and a promposal would be $324.
According to Souderton senior Bella Taylor, the financial burden Coronavirus has put on their lives has been a stressor. Taylor worried about senior week and the loss of time and money she and her friends had invested into it. “We don’t know if that plan is going to go through or if we are going to get our money back or not, so that’s been really stressful.”
While the student government is “bummed”, Kelley has come to terms with the situation and hopes to make the best of it. “Overall, there isn’t much we can do about it, so it is just going to be cancelled and hopefully following classes can take advantage of our plans,” Kelley said.
Like many other schools, Souderton has decided on a virtual graduation. In addition to a broadcast, there will be a car procession on May 30 to recognize the seniors. Depending on the state of the social distancing and shelter in place orders, Souderton is hoping to have an in person graduation in July.
In addition to graduation, Souderton’s senior awards, scholars banquet, and athletic scholarship press conference will all be occurring virtually.
According to Wharton business school junior Matt Peigza, current college students have been facing similar challenges with lost time and investments.
His online classes made it harder for him to connect to teachers. He also said it made it much more difficult to focus on classes when he is not in class in person. “It’s harder to focus for sure,” Peigza said. “Also, you can’t really speak with the professor very much outside of class and you don’t interact with your classmates in the same way as you do at school.”
The thought of an online school experience compared to living on a college campus is upsetting to Taylor, but she understands that the need for public health safety. So far most colleges have not cancelled fall semester yet, but some have cancelled summer events.
Peigza’s summer plans have also faced changes. He had planned to spend the summer in New York working at an internship that has been moved online.
Like most graduating spring sport athletes, including Souderton, the graduating seniors from Peigza’s varsity crew team lost their final season with their team. Besides their last year with their team, Piegza’s senior teammates lose their final year of ivy league sports eligibility.
His coaches commemorated the seniors with a downtown dinner and Piegza hopes to be about to reunite with them after quarantine.
“I’m going to miss the seniors a lot, many of them are my closest friends,” Piegza said.