Opinion: Celebrate the Class of 2020, don’t pity us

A graduating senior reflects on quarantine.


Viviana Freyer '20

In a much-appreciated gesture from the RE community, seniors were presented with posters celebrating them individually.

A lot of things make the Class of 2020 special. We’re the smallest class (hence our motto: “Quality over Quantity”), we won dodgeball during Spirit Week as sophomores (a victory we still cling to even as seniors), and we’re chock full of individuals who I am confident will change the world for the better. And as upset as we might be about this, we are also the class that managed to graduate high school in the midst of a global pandemic. 

As selfish as it sounds, I was looking forward to being celebrated. I so badly wanted to jump into the pool with my classmates and walk across the stage for my diploma. We were all happy for the seniors that came before us. Now it’s our turn to feel the love — and instead of celebration, we get sympathy. But we deserve congratulations, not pity, precisely because we persevered given the circumstances. 

The year 2020 was a central part of our grade’s identity since before we even started middle school. It was a number to be excited about. 20 went at the front of our email and after our name in anything the school published, so the rest of the RE community could know to which class we belonged. We all thought it was the coolest number, the start of the new ‘Roaring Twenties.’ 2020 was supposed to be unforgettable. In a sense, it kept its promise, but not in a way that any of us could have imagined. 

The pandemic is nobody’s fault, and we had no option but to go into isolation. However, while we may be able to reschedule certain events and we are still graduating, it still hurts to know we aren’t getting the senior experience we were promised in sixth grade. We are spending our last months together trapped inside, and we can never get that back. 

I can’t say we haven’t had any kinds of celebrations. The seniors had a “Zoom Prom,” and we’ve been celebrating college acceptances online. However, it’s painful to know that we could all be celebrating getting into college together if things had been different. That in another life, we would’ve been giving the good news to a favorite teacher or jumping up and down with friends on the Senior Deck. We were supposed to spend May excited to finally be done with the college process while at the same time making the most out of our last month in high school. I realize that the Class of 2020’s predicament is microscopic given the current state of the world, but we have the right to be disappointed. 

At this point, I’d give anything to be back in October, in the brunt of application season and stressing about finishing the First Quarter strong. At least I was in school. 

I feel like I’m stuck in school limbo. I’m not a college student yet, but I haven’t officially finished high school. I wish I could put everything on pause and make the most out of the coming months later on, but I can’t. The reality is I’m spending what is supposed to be a momentous and joyful period of my life inside my house. COVID-19 is my coming-of-age story.

What comforts me is the knowledge that so many of my classmates feel the same way — and knowing that we’re all in it together. Throughout this pandemic, the Class of 2020 has only grown more united. Yes, we’re heartbroken, but we’ve really been there for one another and tried to make this experience special for us. We don’t need the pity; we’ve wallowed in enough of our own. Instead, we should be known as the class that, even in spite of everything, remained resilient. 

Now, I’m looking forward to starting my freshman year of college in the fall. I am excited about starting a new chapter, and I want, more than anything, for life to go back to normal. As difficult and mundane as it is, I stay inside because it’s the only thing I can do to get things back on track. And I hope everyone is taking this just as seriously. If we keep staying inside, the sooner everything will go back to normal, and the Class of 2020 can go to college knowing we ended an era on a high note. 

The Class of 2020 is stronger than we realize. We are the first generation of the post-9/11 world, we’ve witnessed the largest mass shootings in our country’s history, and we’re beginning our adult lives in the midst of a global pandemic. As upset as I am, I am filled with a sense of hope, even a sense of pride, that we gave up the end of our senior year for the greater good. By losing time together and postponing Commencement, we are saving lives. We haven’t even graduated, but we’re already “putting more into the world than what we take out of it.”