As students around Michigan await the fate of the remainder of their school year, these past few weeks ridden with COVID-19 have given Forest Hills Eastern Seniors an unexpected chance to reflect on what many believe to be a potential end to their high school careers. Though not strangers to long periods of time off (compliments to the 2019 Polar Vortex), this unprecedented time blindsided even the seniors with their notorious “2020 vision”.
“I remember last winter we had the Polar Vortex,” said Katie Noom (‘20), trying to compare the pandemic to anything students had previously witnessed. “The difference… is that [during the polar vortex] we could see friends, go sledding, and we knew it was temporary. This seems endless.”
Similar to Katie, Vipul Adusumilli (‘20) finds the most troubling aspect of the virus “vacation” is the lack of contact with people. “It was more tolerable,” he said, referring to his experience with the polar vortex last year. “At least then we didn’t have to social-distance ourselves… The thing I miss most is talking to everyone… at school because they helped me get through the day, and talking with them was always fun.” Kyler Lowden (‘20) feels as though this time is similar to summer, although “not as exciting”. Without the structure provided in a normal high school schedule, Kyler has been taking the days one at a time, “try[ing] to make the best of it” and working on finding new ways to keep himself occupied.
Besides missing the small joys of everyday life, many seniors such as Madi Haid (‘20), are bummed about missing out on the normalities the season of spring has to offer. “I’m missing sports in general,” said Madi, mourning her and others’ athletic losses. “Not having a track season my senior year is tough, especially after starting practices only to have it end [so abruptly]… and it was sad that the boys’ districts [for basketball] got cancelled, as well as March Madness.” Sports aren’t the only things that seniors can’t wait to get back to. While he acknowledges that the corona-cation has catered to his love of sleeping in, Vipul ironically misses his zero and first hours with the same passion. “I miss playing music the most for my first two hours of the day,” he lamented.
Admittedly, there are some things the seniors are not missing at this time. “I’m definitely not missing all the homework and assignments and tests. It’s nice to be able to sit at home and watch Netflix all day,” confessed Madi.
Contrary to what many believe, the 2020 seniors are not quite ready to leave Eastern yet. “I’ve never wanted school more,” enthused Katie. “Even if we only get a month, I want to go back. I think most kids do too. Sure, I’m excited to go to college, but I’d like to have the last month of my senior year.” Being robbed of a proper goodbye has left many feeling like they are not yet ready to turn the page on their current chapter of high school life. “I think if everyone wasn’t isolated, I’d be completely done with high school… but I wasn’t ready for that Thursday to be the last day I saw some people and went to high school” confessed Madi. Similarly, Vipul “would love to go back to FHE because I feel like I haven’t had a proper chance to say goodbye…”
However, even among the uncertainty, the class of 2020 has once again impressed with their unique and admirable ability to remain adaptable, strong, and hopeful. “…If we don’t get an opportunity to come back, I am ready to move on because I know this situation is out of our control,” noted Vipul. “What’s helping me move on is knowing that the entire country is going through the same thing, and it’s not just us.” Madi agreed, stating that while it’s sad that the class of 2020 has not had the senior year they had hoped for, “there’s not much anyone can do [besides] accept it and move on.” From the many lessons the quarantine has taught Forest Hills thus far, Kyler believes that the most important is to continue to move forward “making the best of every day, because you’re not always guaranteed tomorrow.”
When asked for advice to give to fellow Hawks pertaining to high school in this unique era, every senior offered up remarkably similar and equally heartwarming pieces of guidance—each senior swears by the importance of cultivating relationships with the time we are gifted. “Appreciate everyone around you,” Katie advocates. “You never know what could happen… you can’t take a relationship with someone for granted because you might not be able to see them the next day.” Kyler agrees, claiming that high school and the friendship cultivated should not be squandered. “Enjoy your time [and] make as many friends as possible… be a good friend and [be someone that] people want to be around.” Vipul urges all students to get involved in the multitude of extracurriculars FHE is lucky enough to offer. He swears that by getting involved, you are able to branch out and form strong relationships with unlikely people. Finally, as someone who disclosed they often wished they were out of high school, Madi’s recent reflections have led her to a new conclusion. “I always used to wish I was out of high school and didn’t have to go to school. But now that it’s a reality, I wish I never complained about it,” she stated.
Ironically, self-isolation has served as a harsh reminder of the importance of forming bonds by giving the Eastern community a sharp reminder of what life is like without them. While the class of 2020 will definitely be missed more than the coronavirus is allowing us to actively express, I am confident that Eastern will continue its legacy of superb leadership, as future generations of Hawks will undoubtedly apply what they’ve learned in this time of isolation to future times of unity.