Senior year of high school is supposed to come to a close with the traditions of prom, senior trips, and graduation celebrations.  It is a time to spend those last few weeks of school with friends that might not be seen for a long time, as graduates begin their journey into adulthood.  It is a time to make memories that last a lifetime.  

Due to COVID-19 implications, our Class of 2020 seniors are missing out on many of these experiences, and though they are making the best of the situation, it’s just not the same.  Online group chatting is not the same as laughing with friends in person. Remembering years of athletic training is not the same as playing that last, bittersweet game in that last season.  Celebrating graduation while social distancing is not the same as being handed a diploma while crossing a stage in front of a crowd of thousands. 

Seniors and their parents are struggling to find answers to questions about graduation requirements, and some districts are beginning to release information based on what the local school boards decide. Policies on GPA calculations, class rank, graduation ceremonies, etc are up to the discretion of each individual district.  Some districts have decided to use the grades as of the end of the first semester of the current school year, while others have opted to include grades up until the fourth six weeks. Students are encouraged to check their district’s website regularly to stay abreast of changes in policy, as well as taking advantage of their school guidance counselors for assistance.

Our juniors are also learning to navigate new ways of doing things.  As many juniors were preparing for spring college entrance exams, planning summer college visits, and thinking about enjoying the start of their senior year in August, the ways to do these things are changing.

East Central ISD lit up district sports fields to honor athletes and the class of 2020, reminding graduates that the community supports them as they finish their last days of high school in isolation.

TEA has released a helpful College Entrance Exams Update.  For now, TEA is suggesting that students stay informed about the ever-changing testing schedules and that students continue to prepare for the exams in the meantime.  The SAT and ACT offer online test prep, advice, and practice tests. There are also free learning and practice tools on Khan Academy.  Keep up with current information on important exams at ACT Exam Info, SAT Exam Info, and  College Board AP Testing Update.

More students this year are expected to choose to attend local, less-expensive colleges.  The Princeton Review’s 2020 College Hopes & Worries survey states,  “Heightened by fears of a sharp economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, a majority of students and parents now say affordability and dealing with the debt burden that often goes hand-in-hand with a degree is their top concern.” (Article by CNBC)  With last-minute changes involving these big decisions, some students have had to start from the beginning in their college and career searches.  Many college campuses have canceled in-person tours for the time being, but there are online resources that allow prospective students to take virtual tours.  There are also informative tools to help students explore colleges and career options. Big Future is the College Board’s recommended decision-making tool for finding the right fit.  Another great website is Scoir, which asks questions about a student’s goals and then helps to map a plan to achieve them.

We don’t know what the future holds.  This is a strange and sometimes overwhelming situation, and information seems to evolve daily. Continue to use your school’s resources for guidance through this confusing time.  We can hope that these challenging times will result in positive outcomes down the road for our high schoolers. We hope we all will come out of this experience stronger, safer, more driven, and more appreciative. Whether our graduating seniors receive applause in a giant auditorium or by any other means, it does not erase the years of work and dedication that got them to graduation. The Class of 2020 will definitely not be forgotten. 

Douglas MacArthur High School Senior Class VP Delaney Rayner created a moving video for her fellow North East ISD classmates. Watch here: https://youtu.be/3OlPPw76w-Y