The final chapter: senior year closes on an unfinished note

April 25, 2020 — by Anjali Nuggehalli

For her first three years of high school, Aashna Belenje looked up to the seniors with awe. She saw them having the time of their lives with their best friends before moving on to colleges they were excited to attend. 

As Belenje finally finished the rigorous period of college applications in December, she was more than ready to embrace the carefree second-semester senior lifestyle.

Belenje’s dream of the perfect end to high school was crushed in an instant, however, when she was told that her senior year was over in late March. She immediately teared up, realizing that her high school experience was not going to conclude in the way she had imagined. 

As the Class of 2020 finishes the semester in quarantine, they are missing out on events that were intended to highlight the end of their high school experience. 

Some of the canceled events include Senior Ditch Day, Senior Servant Day, the notorious senior pranks and powderpuff football.

Another significant event seniors looked forward to was senior prom, their final school dance before graduating. 

“These moments were going to be the key moments where we would be able to just have fun together,” senior Ella Parr said. “I was really looking forward to prom because it was going to be one of the final times the seniors came together.”

Parr attributed the significance of these events to being the last chances for the seniors to unite together as a class. 

MAP 12 students are also missing their senior capstone field trip to Asilomar as well as the annual SMASH’n event in May.

Belenje, a member of the Media Arts Program, is most disappointed about missing out on these events. 

“I was really looking forward to seeing our MAP senior class show off all our final projects,” Belenje said. “We’ve worked so hard on them all year, but we can’t even finish them anymore.”
However, she remains hopeful that graduation will not be canceled. The school has yet to call off this momentous event and is currently looking for alternatives to the live ceremony. 

As an avid athlete who played field hockey, basketball and softball, Parr was disappointed that she would not have the opportunity to complete her final season of softball. 

“There is some closure because I was able to play two out of my three sports, but softball season is my favorite, which makes it so much harder,” Parr said. “I was really looking forward to senior night because that’s such an accomplishing moment.”

Despite missing out on several school events she was anticipating and not being able to hang out with her friends, both Belenje and Parr have made the most of the difficult situation by staying in active touch with friends and family. 

Belenje has movie and game nights with her family almost every night and enjoys painting with her mom. She also FaceTimes her friends every day to watch movies or play online games together.

While being in lockdown has disappointed most seniors in terms of second-semester expectations, both Belenje and Parr do not consider quarantine to have taken away from their overall high school experience.

Throughout their four years in high school the class of 2020 had already enjoyed countless amazing events together, from Homecoming to their last winter formal.

“We are a really tight-knit class and have already formed great memories with each other,” Belenje said. “It’s sad that we already had our last day of school without realizing it, but I’ve had an amazing four years with the best friends possible.”

Regardless of what it means for the Class of 2020, seniors acknowledge that the most important priority right now is getting the public health situation under control and ensuring that their loved ones remain healthy.

“This whole experience is so hard, but I know that it’s the right thing to do,” Parr said. “I just have to remember that so many people have it much worse.”

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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