(OpEd by Corbin High School Senior Alexandria Stewart)
There is so much joy and memories that come along with senior year, from football games to trips. However, due to COVID-19 it’s different for the class of 2020. It seems as though we have been through it all. We were just starting our lives when the attacks of 9/11 occurred. Then we saw the Ebola virus. The development of technology, along with many other events, have all taken place in our youth.
My name is Alexandra Stewart, and I am currently a senior at Corbin High School. I plan on attending the University of the Cumberlands this fall with a major in creative writing and a minor in journalism. I have spent 14 years in the Corbin Independent School system, and my family has been involved in our community for decades. I’m writing for a purpose and an opportunity to have a voice for my peers, not only for my school, but for the county schools as well.
I know from my perspective when the governor announced the closing of schools for the rest of the year, along with having no normal graduation, I was heartbroken. We have worked and been through so much as a class, but I had hope that my school would make the best of the situation that we are in.
I began seeing on social media the “Adopt-a-Senior” posts for some of the county schools, which gave my family an idea to help start one for Corbin. It grew overnight, with everyone from our school having love and support from the community. Even though we had individuals put down this event in a meeting, from the signs downtown to the little gifts that we are getting in the mail, we are beyond thankful.
When they were telling us about graduation speech try outs I was on board. I e-mailed my counselor for more details, and had already begun a speech that I had planned out in my mind. I love to write. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing about, as long as I get my words on a sheet of paper. My spirits and my hope were crushed, though, when I was told that I couldn’t try out. All because of my GPA not being a 4.5. A GPA mattered during a pandemic.
We all then finally got notice of a virtual graduation, which some of the county schools are doing as well. I thought I had an idea of how it could work out in a positive way, but when I got the details of how it would work, I didn’t like it.
Being grateful for having only a few family members, unlike some schools where they aren’t allowed to have any, and strict procedures to follow, from the possibility of having to wear a mask when I walk, to my favorite teacher not being able to watch as her students individually receive their diploma. The fact that if someone’s family member was disabled it would take up time for the “ceremony” to go to the other door because we only have seven minutes each.
I asked why we were doing it this way, and was told that it was all they were allowed to do. It was as though they had given up on us, which didn’t sit right with me. I had planted in my head that they would have done something else that would have given us more recognition because they “care” about their students.
I am grateful for everything, and it might seem selfish, but I want more. I understand the severity of this pandemic, but I had seen that a school in Somerset was having theirs at the drive-in theatre, and some schools are having parade-like graduations where they will still get to see their friends in a different way. Why couldn’t we have something similar? Why isn’t someone voicing their opinion on the matter?
I saw a senior from Whitley County voicing her’s in an article in which she stated that the schools were giving “band-aid solutions.” Coming from a different school, I knew that no one would have anything to say without fear. I don’t know what that fear is, but I don’t have the same fears as them. I don’t fear my school’s reaction when they see this. I was taught by them that I have a right, and the freedom to share my voice.
As a Corbin Redhound, we have always been taught honor in school, but as one individual speaking for all the seniors I ask that we push for more with our officials, school board, etc. We are adults now, just like they are. We can vote in the next election. But for the present time, I’ll just be another senior waiting for my seven minutes.
“Throw stones at me. We don’t fear anymore. We are together, Bulletproof.” – BTS