Photo courtesy / Renee Aguirre
It is finally our senior year, a time when we get to celebrate all we have accomplished and all we have yet to achieve. The end of our year would normally consist of assemblies, shared meals, and graduation, but instead, we might spend it quarantined in our homes. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 has hit globally, our graduation, senior breakfast, prom, senior assembly, and Project Graduation have the chance of being cancelled. While we try to understand why these are hazardous to our health during this time, it breaks our hearts to have to forfeit our senior year and what makes it so special.
We understand that our four years in high school should not be determined by the last semester of senior year, but for most, this is when we are the most celebrated by our family and friends. The past three and a half years of football games, homecomings, pep rallies, and friendships have created enough memories to write a book, but we deserve our final semester of praise and celebration. Senior breakfast, senior assembly, Project Graduation, prom, and most importantly graduation, are all events we have looked forward to over the last four years and are all events we deserve to experience. While our class has had a rough go these past years with our main gym being closed, our senior parking lot being taken away, B building being knocked down forcing us into portables, and last but not least the outbreak of COVID-19, we have chosen to remain optimistic because we knew we would be celebrated in May, at the end of our time at Coronado High School. Now, we are not so sure if we will get that.
While I understand that some of us might not care about experiencing any of these things, a majority of us feel robbed of our senior year and all that entails. For us, graduation is the transition from a teenager to an adult. Many of us are leaving the city – even the state – or college and deserve to be celebrated for that achievement. It is our time to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication we have put into this school over the last four years. It is our time to be praised by our family and friends for taking a next step in life. It is the only time we will put on that navy, gold, or white gown and walk across that stage in front of our friends and family. It is our time to feel proud to be a Coronado T-Bird. The 6,000 people who show up to the Don Haskins center every year to celebrate their graduate are there because they are proud of the students and the school that has made us who we are today. How is it fair to us to have that moment taken away?
Project Graduation is something that Student Executive members work for their entire time in high school. Members of this committee fundraise from the start of freshman year, to the end of senior year, with the hopes of throwing a fun party for us the night of graduation. This event is usually held at the El Paso Country Club and includes a silent auction, rock-climbing wall, casino games, a hypnotist, and free beverages and food. The event is closed off to parents and family, unless you want to bring along a friend or family member, and is the last time we will all be together as a class. This is the time we have to interact with our whole class and make memories that will last a lifetime. This tradition began many years ago and every class tells us how fun this night is. It breaks our hearts to hear that we might not get to experience it. As a member of Exec, I can speak from experience that all the hard work we have put into raising money for project grad is something we are all very proud of and would like to have the chance to showcase to our peers and our school. We are very proud of the $16,000 we have raised and would hate to see it go anywhere besides where it belongs. As with everything else that we get to do as seniors, this is the last time we are all together in one place. I hope that the 4 years of hard work that went in to planning this event wasn’t all for nothing and we all get to experience our last moments of high school the right way.
Finally, senior assembly. The time when we proudly receive the cords we have earned that we will get to wear around our neck with pride on our graduation day. This is the day we have our gowns switched out to our respective colors, whether that be gold for top 10% or white for IB. It’s a time for us to be recognized and awarded for the long hours of work and dedication we have put in the classroom over these last four years. For those who have strived for straight A’s and top 10%, it feels like a waste of mental breakdowns and huge amounts of stress we went through if we aren’t able to wear that special gown, receive that special cord, or even give a speech at graduation. It’s as if we worked hard with the hope of being rewarded and recognized for nothing. Reading, “Congratulations! You graduated” on a diploma being handed to us in the counselor’s office in July is not the way I want to remember my senior year or graduation from Coronado High School. We understand that it is out of our hands at this point and hopefully this will persuade whoever reads it to understand why these events hold such special places in our hearts.
We understand that the health and safety of our community is our number one priority, but we also hope you believe as much as we do that we deserve to be celebrated. Whether that be in the Don Haskins center at 2pm on May 25, or the Sun Bowl Stadium, we are only seniors once and have already jumped through many hoops to get to where we are today. The senior class is grateful for our time at Coronado, and we hope this is not how it ends.