Oriskany senior, classmates reflect on year

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This is that year.

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, 2020 for this senior class, will not be about a graduation...or a sports season, or attending prom. It will mean something different, and maybe something more.

I would argue that it means more. It represents a coming of age, a perfect microcosm for the transformation that every 18-year-old must undergo to move on to the next stage in life. I say this because, like much of life after these next few months, it’s so much bigger than a sports team, or a ceremony, or a senior trip.

Of course, seniors at Oriskany Junior/Senior High School would love to go back. We would all love to get back to our senior year. We’re missing one of the best times of our life, something that cannot be given back in the future.

“I’ve just been upset that we missed out on so many different things we’ve been looking forward to since seventh grade,” said Katie Bowers, a current Oriskany senior. “We’ve missed senior trip, prom, senior skip day, senior pranks, possibly graduation...and most of all, making those memories with our friends.”

The pandemic has also caused other issues for seniors, and some are much more problematic than missing out on the festivities of a senior year. Kara Daskewich, fellow senior and class president, said she agrees with this assessment.

It creates “an uncertainty,” to our future, with many seniors “depositing without visiting or going to open houses” at the college campuses where they were to attend school in the fall, she said.

Daskewich said some seniors weren’t able to visit the campuses before such payments must be made. She said she, as well as the rest of Oriskany’s senior class, recognizes the fact that problems caused by COVID-19 are greater than just missing the traditional festivities. Seniors’ futures have been impacted.

Despite the problems caused, this crisis can be looked at in another light. Jamie Grimshaw, principal at Oriskany Junior/Senior High School, said he agrees with the idea that this crisis attaches a “new maturity” to what it means to be a senior.

“Many of our seniors are getting a jump start on understanding the need to overcome major hurdles in their lives in order to reach a bigger goal,” he said. “We recognize that sacrifices must be made. Unfortunately, this is like a senior project for our students. They are being taught the reality of the unexpected ups and downs that life deals adults, and learning that how they deal with these obstacles will help guide their success in life.”

In times like these, it’s important to “zoom out” a bit, if you will. As a senior who wants to continue this pivotal time of life, the situation can be frustrating. But a bit of perspective can help.

“Zoom out” — take a look at your community. Look at your town. Look at your own family. Look at the people that may be at risk.

Seniors, if there’s ever a doubt that the precautions taken are absolutely necessary, look at a perspective broader than our own. I’m sure every senior has a loved one (or many) considered “at risk.” Think about them. Think about the many people at risk in your community.

This is why we all must sacrifice, and to save lives, there’s no sacrifice great enough, even a senior year.

“Like all kids, I know our seniors are hurting right now,” Principal Grimshaw said. “But knowing the character of this class, I believe this will be a challenge they will overcome and help them flourish as they move into the next phase of their lives.”

Seniors, our sacrifice is a big one. There’s nothing more I’d like than for things to be normal. But until it becomes normal, this is bigger than us — and there’s something to be said about this. We will now be forever grateful for the times we’ve shared together.

“As a senior, it’s very easy to focus on the negatives and all of the things we will miss out on,” said another senior, Lauren Domenico. “Despite how unfortunate these circumstances are, we are blessed to have had so many memorable times together. This will only make us stronger.”

So, seniors, keep your heads up. You’ve etched your spot in the history books, no matter what the future brings.

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