Missed Opportunities Plague Students

PATRIOT POST: Heritage Students Plagued by Missed Opportunities as School Comes to End


            The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in previously unimaginable ways, and its effect on the 2019-2020 school experience has been just as dramatic. The staff of Heritage’s newspaper, the Patriot Post, worked together to record the missed opportunities that are most affecting the students of our community.

            While many students often enjoy school for the non-academic experiences that it brings, the essential purpose of school is learning, and many students are missing the face-to-face learning experience that they were previously accustomed to.

Sophomore, Wil Rohrbach, said, “An opportunity that many people take for granted is the in-school learning experience. Although there are e-learning assignments, these do not make up for the knowledge and relationship-building that has been lost between students and their peers and teachers.”

Sophomore, Madison Rigsby, stated, “Most students worked so hard to get to where they are at this point in the school year. Therefore, being able to finish the school year would feel as if we really accomplished something.” Rigsby misses being able to learn and speak face to face with teachers, while learning new things. She feels as if she is behind on learning things that she was supposed to because she may not be learning them correctly now. On the positive side, though, she said, “This year we have all gotten to experience something that was never experienced before, so we should be proud of how far we’ve come.”

Aside from lost instructional time, students are also highly sympathetic to the class of 2020, the seniors who had the end of their high school experience taken away and are facing uncertainty in terms of what their high school graduation will involve.

Senior, Jalene Griffin referred to “prom, senior skip day, a senior prank, and many other things” as examples of what the class of 2020 has missed out on. However, according to Griffin, the thing that is most missed out on is graduation. She said, “Graduation is the one thing that has motivated me to push forward and work hard. It was a way to be congratulated for all of our hard work throughout the first chapter of our lives. It is a memory that people have forever, and it’s kind of annoying that we probably will not have that.”

Senior, Audrey Renninger, stated, “I am very upset about not being able to experience all of the events and activities that normally happen at the end of senior year. Especially senior skip day trips and senior pranks. These events are integral parts of the high school experience. Quite a few students even start brainstorming for their senior prank years before they are a senior. After being cut two months short of the school year, many students are missing out on memories with their classmates.”

            Sophomore, Dagan Diez added, “To wait your whole life just to get the opportunity to walk on stage and accept your diploma and also make memories with your friends is a big deal in a person's life, but the class of 2020 had that ripped away from them.”

            Many students are also saddened to unexpectedly lose the spring sports season, including baseball, softball, boys golf, and track and field. Senior, Parker Tracey, said, “It doesn’t feel real. From senior prom to senior baseball, it is all very sad. Baseball is the one that bums me out the most. Our team set high expectations for the upcoming season, and we planned to achieve them. I have been trying to stay in contact with the team because for some of them they have been my teammates for over ten years. It is very sad.”

Lydia Geise, a freshman who would have been competing in her first season of high school track, said, “I’m glad we closed because it was the right decision for everyone’s safety, I’m just kind of bummed out about it [missing track].”

Sophomore, Evan Niemeyer said, “I really missed golf season and the rest of the school year with my friends. I was looking forward to bettering my golf game and maybe even making a run for ACAC.”

Parker Kuhns, a freshman on the track team, said, “As one of the spring sports kids, COVID-19 has come as total loss for me. Although I still have three years left, I was still very excited for my first season. It has taken away my ability to see my friends, which I rely on for my mental health. I was ready to do my absolute best this season.”

Another missed extracurricular activity was the Drama Club’s spring musical. The cast had solid momentum going toward their show date in May, before the school closing. Senior, Morgan Castleman, said “The thing that is most difficult for me to grasp is the loss of the spring musical, ‘Aida,’ in which I had the lead role as Aida.” Although the full cast had just begun stage work, she had already put in a month and a half of singing rehearsals. She was very excited to spend long practices with the cast, making lots of memories. Most of all, she was looking forward to standing on stage and singing her heart out after all the hard work put in.

A selection of yearbook and newspaper students also missed the opportunity to attend the annual Journalism Day (J-Day) at Ball State University. Junior, Lillian Buuck, said, “Most of all, I am missing J-Day at Ball State University. Every year, journalism students from many schools are invited to Ball State for a day to learn about journalism and participate in a fun scavenger hunt.” She was unable to attend her freshman year because of her Biology ISTEP testing, but she went along last year and loved every second of it. Even though Buuck is upset to miss this, she knows next year will be twice as fun.

In a time of quarantine and social-distancing, the students of Heritage also miss their friends. Senior Jessica Collins said she does not miss the lost opportunity of prom or graduation, but she misses seeing her friends at school. School, for Collins, was a place where friends would make each other laugh until they cried. Without friends to see at school, Collins said she feels lonelier than ever. The senior said friends at school were an outlet for ranting about issues, such as acceptance, and now there is no outlet for such feelings.

            Sophomore, Penelope Hunt, said, “I miss the opportunity to see my friends on a daily basis.” With school closed and the public advised to take part in social distancing, she, like many others, is in isolation, only seeing close relatives. She misses joking during the day, working on schoolwork together, and talking about anything that was brought up. She believes that socializing face to face is better than Facetime or texting. Hunt said, “Although school’s purpose is for students to learn, hanging out with friends was my favorite thing about attending.” 

Senior Emily Cummins stated “I feel like I missed out on seeing my friends a lot. While in school, I was able to see my friends every day, but now that school is out, I see who my true friends are and who still makes the effort to see me and text me, while I do the same. So basically, I missed out on actually enjoying the presence of my friends. Just being able to see them face to face and have real conversations that are not through text is what I feel I missed out on.”

Some of the opportunities I’ve personally missed during my freshman year due to Covid-19 are bonding with my friends and having face to face interaction with people other than my family,” said freshman, Lillian Pierce.

Not all students were sentimental about the loss of school or its experiences, though. Sophomore, Kaydence Palm stated, “Personally, I don’t feel that I am missing out on anything that’s worth me being a part of. Besides the very few friends that I keep in contact with, I have nothing that makes me miss going to school every day. No sports, no clubs, no social events or spirit weeks. Those just aren’t the types of things that got me out of bed in the morning.”

Similarly, Senior Zachary Tuttle finds that he does not miss much from school. While he enjoyed school, he feels that it is nice to be home instead. The break has allowed him to work more hours and make more money. Surprisingly, Tuttle also said he will not miss graduation or prom. He said, “Yeah it sucks, but what are we supposed to do about it. I do not really care about it all. I just hope it all gets figured out.” 

            Reflecting on the unprecedented end to this 2019-2020 school year, junior, Rasheed Reeves, said, “I can remember all of my teachers telling me that junior year will be the hardest year to overcome, and they were right. This year has been crazy to say the least. As a school and as a community, we’ve all missed out on so much. The seniors won't be able to have their last prom or have the graduation they’ve worked so hard for.”

Hoping to find hope and long-term improvement through the impact of the coronavirus, sophomore, Jasper Voirol, hoped that we could “see this as a learning experience and less as a missed opportunity.” He referenced tension between some students within the school’s walls and continued, “I think we all needed this time away from people to grow and do better as a whole, and I think in the 2020-2021 school year we will see improvements.”  

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