Coronavirus outbreak alters senior traditions


By Devon Rocke, Staff Reporter

In previous years, seniors have been able to enjoy the “senior experience,” a rite of passage involving school traditions, pranks and major milestones. However, this year is a far cry from what most seniors were expecting it to be. In March, COVID-19 began to reach the area, causing an abrupt stop to the 2020 school year, shutting the school down on the 13th, causing many senior traditions to be delayed or canceled.

Senior Assassins, while not a school-sponsored event, has come to a close. Every year, participants receive a target to eliminate through throwing water at them by the end of a round. If the student fails to eliminate their target, they will be unable to move on. Typically, the game runs until there is one survivor who gets the cash prize. This year, however, Drew Ge, Max Rosenfeld and Dylan Goldstein, the leaders of the game, split the $2,020 reward among the numerous remaining players. 

Since the statewide shutdown of Pennsylvania schools, seniors have felt the losses of many milestones. Without access to school grounds and students, this year’s senior prank is not happening, and events such as Snow Day in May, a year-end goodbye tailgate for seniors, have been canceled indefinitely. 

“The biggest thing we’re missing out on is a certain vibe to senior spring that is unlike anything else through high school,” said JP Infortuna, president of Executive Council. “I’ll give April as the best month of high school you will have… but the atmosphere of senior spring is something that we’re not getting.”

Spring sports have also come to an end, with many seniors not realizing that the practice, game or meet before the sudden exit from school was their last. This means missing final goodbyes with their coaches and teammates and being unable to celebrate senior night or one last win.

“I was really looking forward to being captain of the track team in the spring,” senior Grace Inserra said. “The spring season is the most important, so that was a bummer having to miss out on that.”

Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, some traditions are still being salvaged. College T-shirt Day is now occurring via Instagram, with students posting pictures in their new gear along with their friends on their stories. The famous senior lip dub is also in progress, as an email has been sent out to all seniors. To create the lip dub, segments from athletes, clubs, student council, the arts programs and the pioneer pit are being filmed and organized.

“It has been hard figuring out how to make it and include everyone.” said senior Justin D’Emilio. “But I’m excited to see what happens.”

On May 28, Senior Award Night will be held virtually, and award winners will be notified of how they will be recognized beforehand. As for senior prom, the date has been postponed until July 15 and will be hosted at the Foundry in Phoenixville if the threat of COVID-19 has passed.

Now for one of the largest milestones for seniors: graduation. On July 21, the school is planning on holding the traditional graduation ceremony on Teamer Field for the senior class. However, due to COVID-19, these plans are not concrete, meaning that there are three separate protocols that may be used if regulations are still not in order. 

One option is a Social Distancing Commencement, in which students as well as guests will maintain social distancing rules and sit six feet apart, with the ceremony being broadcasted over TETV and livestreamed as well. A second option is similar to the first and would have students sit six feet apart with no guests. The third option is the most time-consuming, with students walking onto Teamer Field one-by-one to receive their diplomas. As of yet, there has not been any clear decision made on which option is going to be used, but the school will announce its choice by July 1.

“I feel like getting closure is something that a lot of high school seniors really want right now,” Inserra said. “I think graduation would be a great way to just see everyone one last time.”

Although a typical graduation may not be happening, there are different ways that the community is supporting the Class of 2020. Signs celebrating the class are propped up in yards across the area, and there will be a Thanksgiving weekend reception in the fall so that students can say their final goodbyes to their friends. So, even though the “senior experience” has been cut short, seniors still have traditions that are being upheld virtually and, hopefully, soon in person.

Devon Rocke can be reached at [email protected]