School Voices: Dear Class of 2020, You are not alone

Graduation – the final celebration that marks years of hard work and determination.

This very special milestone has been robbed from millions of students across the world as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.

As a 2020 graduate myself, I know the feeling of not being able to finish your final year at whichever institution you attend. In my case, I walked out of Dawson College on March 12 excited for my one-week March break. At the time, I had no idea that I would never walk the Dawson halls again.

I feel extreme sadness knowing that my time as a CEGEP student has abruptly come to an end. However, I also know that there are so many 2020 grads, at all academic levels, who feel this same way. And so, I thought to myself – why don’t I give some of them a voice? In doing so, my hope is that you can relate to, or find comfort in, one of their stories, and in turn, feel less alone.

So, here are graduate testimonials from elementary school to university.  

Lianna Ouellette, Grade 6 – Académie Marie Claire

Since the pandemic started, we have been doing our courses online. Personally, I like the way we are doing school now better since there is less work, but I miss just going to school and seeing my friends. I am sad that half of my last year at elementary is cancelled since they cancelled my graduation ceremony, my graduation trip to New York, and many other fun school events. It is sad since I was looking forward to these important events in my final year.

Avneet Kaur Padda, Grade 11 – Greaves Adventist Academy

What I thought would be just another normal day at school, turned out to be the last one of senior year. On March 13, we were told that schools would close due to Covid-19. At first, I was happy because I would be getting 2 weeks off of school and it felt like a mini vacation. However, once the news came out that the “2 weeks” would turn into months, I was shocked and upset. As a few days of quarantine passed by, I quickly realized that I missed going to school and being able to sit in an hour-long class and walk down the halls wearing my senior hoodie. I had waited 11 years for the moment I would get to walk down the stage at graduation and get my diploma, but now, that’s not going to happen. Not only am I sad about not having a graduation, but I’m also upset about not being able to say goodbye and thank the teachers and people that made an impact in my life. These last few months of high school were supposed to be ones for the yearbook, but instead, they turned out to be the ones for the history books.

Felicia Dilollo, CEGEP – Dawson College

I remember my last day before schools shut, the halls were practically empty as students were worried about COVID-19. I was expecting schools to shut because I knew other provinces had begun to take precautions. However, I was certainly shocked when the government decided to shut schools until September. It definitely made me sad that I would never return to see my classmates and that I would have to finish off the rest of the school year online without the teachers and students who made my two years of CEGEP so incredibly memorable.

Maayan Strulovitch – Concordia University

I heard about the pandemic on the news, but I didn’t think much of it. I remember going to my class and barely seeing any students. Then, when I heard that schools would close for 2 weeks, I was nervous about how it would impact me academically. The most heartbreaking part for me is not having a graduation ceremony as this is something I’ve dreamed of since my first year at Concordia. Also, I’m sad that I won’t have any graduation pictures with my family. Instead, all I’ll have is a virtual ceremony and a shipped diploma.

Haley Marando – Queen’s University

With the way that my University class schedule was structured, my final day in-class was on the Wednesday. This was before the NBA suspended their season, which caused the domino effect of closures, so there was absolutely no thought that this would be the final class of my undergraduate degree. I genuinely believed my school would only close if there was a positive case on campus. Needless to say, it was a huge shock when they announced that campus was closed, and all courses were to be delivered remotely. As the whole world seemed like it was crumbling all around me, it was extremely hard to find motivation and inspiration to finish my degree with the same level of quality and intelligence that I had previously provided. It was a terribly dismal way to nod off the hardest, and best, four years of my life. Perhaps the toughest obstacle is the lack of closure. Graduation is always going to be hard, but the inability to say goodbye, reminisce, and celebrate is an extremely tough pill to swallow, especially when these are the moments you’ve looked forward to the most. However, when we are able to reconvene and celebrate our accomplishments, I truly believe it will be one of the best moments of my life. That is what I currently look forward to the most.

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If you’re a 2020 graduate, it’s normal that the unexpected and abrupt end to your final year has led you to feel sadness, despair and even anger, but you are not alone.

One day, we will find a way to celebrate the class of 2020. It’ll be unique, memorable and extra special. Let’s just hang in there for a little bit longer.

Congratulations to the class of 2020!

Melissa Migueis is enrolled in Communication Studies at Concordia University. In the near future, she also wishes to pursue a certificate in Holistic Nutrition to merge her passion for media with health and wellness. For daily inspiration & motivation, and for everything "wellness" related, you can follow her at @_livewellwithmel_ on Instagram! 

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