Student Column: How Will COVID-19 Change My Senior Year?

As we begin to approach August, many students, including myself, are anxious to find out what the 2020-21 school year holds. Will it be in person, online, a hybrid model? The questions circling K-12 students’ minds are all in regard to how COVID-19 will impact their upcoming year. However, with the pressure of applying to college and wanting a “Port Washington senior experience,” Paul D. Schreiber seniors appear more apprehensive than the rest. Here are just a few reasons why this is.

1. COVID-19 and College Applications

Applying to college is stressful as is. Writing dozens of essays, sitting for standardized tests, filling out applications, nagging teachers for letters of recommendation, touring

campuses, attending interviews are all stressful tasks to begin. With COVID-19, many of these quintessential steps are changing daily. One of these tasks standardized testing, is greatly changing for the class of 2021 and possibly forever. Many schools, including all Ivy League schools, have become “test-optional” or “test-blind”. As testing locations around the world remain closed, it is impossible to require scores from students who haven’t had the opportunity to take them, but students who took an ACT, SAT, or SAT II prior to the pandemic may submit their scores. 

Another ever-changing aspect of this years’ college admissions cycle is touring campuses. For many students, the spring and summer going into their senior year is the prime time to look at schools in order to figure out if it is the right fit for them. Many universities have shifted their focus to creating virtual “tours” or “information sessions” to compensate for not being on campus. Additionally, many schools have begun online alumni interviews if it is not safe to meet in person. With COVID-19 precautions changing weekly, so do the steps in the college admissions process for better and for worse. These changes continue to be thrown at rising seniors, adding extra stress to this process as well as to the uncertainty of their futures.

2. Schreiber Senior Traditions

One of the many perks of going to high school at Schreiber includes the traditions that come with being a senior. These range from The Vikings’ homecoming football game where two students are crowned king and queen after the Pride In Port parade, to a senior game for a sports team, to The Gambol (otherwise known as senior prom), to wearing matching t-shirts on the first day of school, to pep rally and spirit week, and the list goes on. The uncertainty of whether or not these events will continue in a safe manner is disappointing for all, as many of them include large gatherings of students and families. Seniors are not the only grade level that face the fear of having anticipated traditions lost, but it is their last chance to experience a proper Port Washington School District send off.

3. Uncertainty Of Sports Seasons

Sports are a highlight of many High Schoolers’ experience at Schreiber. Being able to bond with a group of peers, train and compete together is an unforgettable experience for all grade levels. For many senior athletes, their fourth and final season is the one they look forward to the most. Becoming captain, being able to take more responsibility for the team and having a senior game dedicated to them helps enhance this senior athlete experience. According to the first New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) COVID-19 task force meeting, NYSPHSAA President and Task Force Chair, Paul Harrica, said, “Having representatives from these offices provide reports today was extremely beneficial to the work that the task force will do over the course of the next few months, From the reports provided, it is clear school district facilities cannot be opened for student participation until Phase 4 is entered. The health and safety of our student-athletes remains our top priority.” With the unpredictability of fall 2020, students, especially seniors, anxiously await what this will mean for their sports season.

Students of all ages are anxious to get back the classroom and see their peers and teachers. However, we must make sure to continue to ensure our community’s safety, even if this may cause some disappointments.

—Emily Milgrim is a student at Schreiber High School in Port Washington

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