ORR seniors talk missing end of the school year

May 4, 2020

For the Old Rochester Class of 2020, there will be no prom this month, no final theatrical performance, no last athletic triumphs, no spring walk with cap and gown and diploma. In the words of Class Treasurer Emma Gabriel: no sense of closure.

In a video conversation on May 1, she and fellow class officers talked about a final year in high school cut short by the coronavirus.

When Gov. Charlie Baker initially closed schools on March 16, there was a sense — or at least hope — that students would reconvene after that first closure ended on April 3. With the April 21 announcement that schools needed to stay closed for the remainder of this year, these students' final days in the classroom vanished in one stroke of the pen.

The school now plans to have prom on Aug. 4, awards night on Aug. 6, senior walk on Aug. 7 and graduation the following day.

Senior class Vice President Cecilia Prefontaine said “we definitely wish we could take back all the complaints that we made towards the spring because once it's taken away from you, you obviously have a greater appreciation for it.”

Gabriel said because they didn’t know that March 13 would be their last in the building, seniors don’t have a sense of closure.

Some class officers are involved in other extracurricular activities at ORR besides Student Government. Class Secretary Stephen Feeney is a part of the school’s eSports team and was hoping to repeat a tournament win in the fall, but the competition never happened. 

Class President Meghan McCullough runs cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. She was in her best shape coming into the last season, “so it definitely stank for it to be taken away,” she said. 

Although Prefontaine finished field hockey in the fall, she and the drama club spent two months learning songs and dances for their spring musical and she said it was sad to watch the opportunity to perform deteriorate as the cancellations piled up.

Staying motivated to learn at home now is a challenge. Without teachers to answer questions and peers to interact with, Feeney said “it’s such a different ballgame staying motivated.”

McCullough said that before the virus, students thought events like prom and graduation were set in stone. Now, they know “it can be taken away, so we’ve learned to just appreciate it more,” she said.

Learning at home has made school tough, but there has been no lack of Tri-Town support for the class of 2020. 

“It’s definitely tough to feel like something was taken away from you, but at the same time, I feel like we gained a lot in the sense that we get to see how much our teachers are thinking of us and how hard our administration is working to ensure that we get some sort of celebration,” said Prefontaine.

The signs of support aren’t just metaphorical — in many cases actual signs have popped up around town. 

“It’s nice that we know that everybody is thinking of us even though we’re kind of disappointed in the way it turned out,” Feeney said in reaction to the signs. 

It’s this support, and tight-knit groups of friends that have been together since Kindergarten, that the seniors will miss the most as they head off to college.