COVID-19 Leads to Creativity, New Rituals for this year's Senior Class
By Kerianne Lawson, Chief Programs Officer, Beach Cities Health District
Dear Class of 2020,
Spring has always been an optimistic time for high school seniors. Rituals, rites of passage and celebrations give us the opportunity to honor where we’ve come from before moving on to our next adventure. But how do we do that this year?
There have been so many things canceled this spring. Performances, concerts and seasons. School trips, festivals, playoffs. Prom, award ceremonies, senior ditch day, even just sitting in the quad signing year books. Cancelled. Cancelled. Cancelled. They cancelled the SAT?! Okay, maybe we’re not sad about that one.
We normally talk about grieving a person or a pet, but there’s also the grief of losing something that should have been. Many of you, and your parents and families, are going through this. You may feel sad or anxious. You may be angry. This isn’t FOMO (fear of missing out), this is just plain missing out and it’s not fair.
Class of 2020, you are uniquely talented to meet this moment. You are more digitally connected and technologically savvy than the generations before you. Show of hands – how many of you have taught your parents how to use Zoom for their work calls? Taught Grandma how to Facetime? Who was brave enough to teach a parent how to use TikTok?
Let’s brainstorm: how can we re-create our rituals and experiences? Did you see the news report recently that showed a tuxedo-clad dad in Alabama holding a “prom” for his daughter on their front lawn, with dinner, dancing and friends driving by to share in the event. How about the people who got married with their guests all dressed up everybody in their own living room? At Beach Cities Health District, today we had our first virtual baby shower for two employees who are expecting. Drive-by birthday parties, teacher parades and graduation salutes are becoming more frequent.
Would we have done this for these events in a normal year? Probably not, but 2020 is definitely not normal.
Somebody out there knows what the prom theme was and what the grad night decorations were supposed to be. Let’s decorate the living room, put on the fancy clothes and start up the video chat.
Let’s decorate the front of the garage and post the lawn signs. Put on your cap and gown and take the photos. Create a ritual for yourself, your friends and your family. Let’s celebrate all that you’ve achieved. We’re making memories – maybe not the ones we thought we would have but memories.
And when this ends, and I promise you it will end, you will look back on what you achieved and how you moved on to the next adventure in spite of COVID-19. And I bet your class reunion committee will throw quite the party in 2025.
You got this Class of 2020. We honor you and we celebrate you.
We love you,
PS – send us your graduation photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll celebrate you on our social media. Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi’s office encourages you to use the hashtag #SouthBayGrad2020 in order to celebrate you and your accomplishments!