A Year Cut Short: How seniors are coping with losing their last days of high school

The+Class+of+2020+stands+together+on+the+first+day+of+school+in+2019+to+take+a+class+photo.+

Blot Photo by Drew Lepping

The Class of 2020 stands together on the first day of school in 2019 to take a class photo.

In the middle of March, we were faced with a decision. The threat of a school closure hung over our heads, right as we were starting the process of putting together Issue 5. The Inkblot has a lot of moving parts, with so much relying on being in the building: interviewing, recording InkTV in the studio and laying out the pages with the rest of the Edit Board. 

At the time, the COVID-19 threat felt real, but we had no idea how far it would go. We felt like everything would be back to normal in two weeks, so we decided to continue with the hopes that we would be back in time to hand out Inkblots in the hallways like this paper has always done for years and years. 

But as each new press conference pushed the date of return later and later – and eventually canceled the rest of the year – we had to adapt. The entirety of Issue 5 was created remotely; everything from interviews to layout to distribution. While we pressed on, other clubs at CHS had their plans torn to shreds as their headlining events and trips faded away. It wasn’t how we wanted to close out our last issue as editors, but we were lucky that we were able to keep going with the enduring support of our writers, edit board, and adviser. 

As seniors, this tragedy hit home personally. We treasure our work as editors and journalists because of how much the CHS community means to us – we truly do love the people we’ve worked, laughed and grown with for the past four years. To see our experiences cut short so suddenly was unprecedented and almost impossible to process. But it’s because of that same community, the people who’ve not only read our stories but been the lifeblood of them, that we push forward. 

We owe it not only to our classmates, but our teachers, administrators, staff, families and everyone else who’s made our time at the Inkblot and CHS so valuable, to create a record of how our school is coping. And all things taken into consideration, CHS is coping and adapting in the best way possible. Nothing is perfect, but the community has done everything to search for those rays of light during a dark time. Teachers and staff are still there for the students, the students are there for each other, and like every other roadblock we’ve come across, we’re getting through it together in true CHS spirit. 

Life will eventually return to normal. Nobody truly knows when. But through it all, the Inkblot will continue to be here for you.

_____________________________________________________________________

Marissa Ho
The Class of 2020 begins their British Invasion themed lip sync with “God Save the Queen” and transitions to more popular hits such as Adele’s “Hello.”

“There were a lot of events I’d been looking forward to, like prom and the art show, and I’m really disappointed that I can’t plan/decorate for these events. It’s also upsetting that I’m not going to be able to make those classic senior year memories of the easy-going second semester. I’m most upset about graduation, though, because no matter what happens it’s not going to be graduation the way I’ve always imagined, surrounded by friends as we have our last hurrah.”

– Aidan Rosenberg, Freehold

“It’s taken some of the more interesting parts out of classes, like radio production, printing in graphic arts, and labs in Bio, but other than that not much has changed. I’m pretty socially isolated most of the time anyway. A lot of people are upset about stuff like prom and senior dinner but I’m not one for fancy events so if anything I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with them. I feel like the worst part is teachers who have refused to adapt to the new schooling and just tried to keep their lessons the same. I get it but it’s awful.”  

– Riley Brennan, Manasquan

“I’m definitely not as motivated to get my schoolwork done now but my teachers are very understanding of the situation and are doing everything they can to help their students. I’ve been looking forward to my senior year for a really long time. I feel like it’s a CHS rite of passage to lead a Color Wars team, go on the senior canoeing trip, and win our last spirit week, but that can’t happen.”

– Madison Vigdor, Manalapan

Mia Gallo
Sharing laughs during lunch are sophomores, from right, Bella Matuch of Spring Lake, Meredith Prud’homme of Ocean, Bella Reilly of Avon and Isabella Antoon of Oceanport. The girls enjoy spending time together during their hour long lunch/activity period.

I won’t get to say a proper goodbye to the school and all my friends, I really wanted to have at least one last day in the building and I really don’t know if I’ll get that...there are so many parts of being a senior that I feel like I just missed out on, of all things like I really miss driving to school like it’s something so small but I miss it as weird as it sounds, I was planning on getting a job and doing fun things with my friends and now all of those things have just been thrown out the window.”

– Sam DeCuicies, Howell

But throughout the past week or so, the sense of isolation from my friends has really started kicking in, and when Governor Murphy announced that we wouldn’t be returning to school, that sense of isolation doubled. Throughout this week I’ve had to look through photos from the past four years for various projects, and they’ve really been punching me in the gut by reminding me of something that I now know I won’t ever be able to return to. It’s always been energizing knowing that every day at CHS has the chance to bring with it a new favorite memory, and now with that sense of hope gone it just hurts.”

– Dane Tedder, Ocean

Blot photo by Jamie Nickerson
The annual back to school dance was ‘80s themed, and the cafeteria was lined with bright colors, cassette tapes and other classic 80s paraphernalia.

As a senior, there are so many privileges and opportunities you get in (ie. mentorship, color wars captains etc) that you look forward to your entire high school career…To have that taken away is a harsh blow, to say the absolute least. In a way, it almost feels unfair, although I know if it could be different, it would be. While I’m very grateful that New Jersey officials and the CHS staff have taken the necessary steps to keep us safe, I personally believe the call to cancel school and school-related activities for the rest of the academic year is extremely premature.” 

– Caelin Burgi, Matawan

The news really does hurt especially after I know we have all been working so hard to get to this point and it just got stripped away from us. But, I’ve realized there’s not much we can really do about it so the only thing we can do is look forward and to the day when it does end and we can make up all the time we’ve lost. I hope we are able to make things up in the future no matter how far away that may be.”

– Liam Jamolod, Howell

“It’s just been a pretty sad time – one thing after the other keeps getting cancelled. It is interesting to see the community coming together, and it’s given me lots of time to think about college and have conversations with friends. Overall it is what it is, sad but necessary for the circumstances.” 

– Alexa Feder, Millstone

Alyssa Rasp
Students (Left to right: Elena Perez of Hazlet, Abbey Reisler of Ocean, Will Carragher of Middletown, Jill Fukushima of Tinton Falls, Naomi Littenberg of Lincroft) during Carraghers performance for the talent portion of the competition

“It was disappointing to see things that other students and myself had been working toward never end up happening, and I know that everyone has been negatively impacted in one way or another…I think one of the worst parts is knowing there’s no way to really make up for what we’ve lost so we just have to move on from it.”

– Jill Tracy, Belmar

Though we are losing our prom, graduation, and other senior activities I believe that the sacrifices we are making today are for the greater good. I’m more nostalgic than upset; this is a unique situation for everyone and I think the school has handled it great.” 

– Abbey Reisler, Ocean

It makes me so sad when I think about how our class will never get to lead a color wars team and how we are never going to experience our senior prom. The thought of not being able to walk at graduation is the most devastating of all.”

– Ainsley Vetter, Wall

Bridget Woodrow
A group of sophomores, from left, Matt Emery of Ocean, Jennifer McCue of Freehold, Katherine Lombardi of Middletown and Caelin Burgi of Matawan, rush to collect everything on the Scavenger Hunt list on Friday, Nov. 3. The sophomores tied for third place with the seniors.

“Of course I’m sad that I will not be able to finish my senior year at CHS. This is so out of our hands and CHS is doing the best it can to accommodate everybody…I figured we weren’t going to go back but I am upset that we have to miss all of the senior things like prom and graduation.”

– Riley Rademacher, Wall

It definitely sucks that the pandemic has to school closing for the rest of the year, especially because we’re gonna miss (or have missed) events like Colors Wars, Prom, the spring drama and, most upsetting to me personally, Battle of the Bands. But I’m glad that we’ve started to take steps to prevent the spread at least. The part that really sucks to me is people getting fed up and ignoring that there’s a quarantine; I’m not talking about people who need to keep earning their paycheck, but people who wanna go to the beach or the mall or something. My point is, I guess, school closure is the total opposite of how I wanted my senior year to end, but at least people are being kept safe by it.” 

– Michael Landolfi, Tinton Falls

Delia Noone
Freshmen, from left, Sawyer Barth of West Long Branch, Mike Cielecki of Spring Lake Heights, Ben Hewson of Fair Haven and Evan Kuo of Tinton Falls enjoy their first Winterball.

It’s very hard realizing that we already had our last day of high school, especially since we didn’t know it at the time…I believe what bothers me the most is that we did not, and may not, have closure as a class and definitely as a school. The Class of 2020 has gone through so much together and to have our last few months together ripped away from us is definitely depressing to witness. The only reason I am not that distraught is because I know that in the future, when we can all see each other again, we will make up for lost time and do something to unite us one last time.”

– Jamie Nickerson, Tinton Falls

“The virtual learning experience has been great for me and I believe that CHS is handling the situation very well. I have been looking forward to the last few weeks of our senior year for a long time, since that is when all the events start happening, so I am bummed that we won’t get to experience it. However, all of us seniors appreciate the support that we have been getting from the CHS staff and others!”

– Anabel Ferraro, Manasquan

Marisa Harczuk
During lunch, a group of sophomores eat and talk about their plans for the weekend. There are 15 minutes left till the end of lunch, which is at 11:29.

“Knowing that I left school in March not knowing it would be my last day of high school ever is really upsetting because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my teachers and people I probably would never see again. Also, knowing that some of the best events are not going to happen anymore is devastating. This was supposed to be the best few months of school. However, I know that Mr. Gleason and the teachers feel the exact same way about it and it’s out of everyone’s control. I just hope that we get a graduation that is as close to a normal ceremony as possible…I know whatever the decision is will be the best one.”

– Bella Reilly, Avon

“I’m sad about school getting cancelled and missing all the events but it’s the right decision because keeping people safe is always the priority. I don’t particularly love staying at home but I do it because it’s the right thing to do.” 

– RJ Franzen, Allentown

Catherine Escueta
Although the Class of 2020 won the tiebreaker round of the Flip-Off, the Class of 2017 won Jenga. Freshman Emily Madeira of Howell was a member of her class’s Jenga team.

“Thanks to the closure, we’ve lost all the best parts of CHS and stuff that makes it really memorable. Because we’re now left with this hollow shell and grades matter so little for seniors, I have so much less of an incentive to put my 100% in my academic life. I don’t really care if I’m slacking off right now because I have no passion for going through my academic life because it’s not tied to any of the strong emotional bonds I’ve made at the school or any of the extracurriculars I’ve put so much work into.” 

– Vaughn Battista, Tinton Falls

It was probably the right decision but I wasn’t too happy with it because I’m just trying to have a good time. Corona in general, like I get it’s a big deal, but at this point we should start to wrap it up because if everyone listened we should be fine by now…I am just ready to hang with my friends for the last time. I’m doing pretty well in the circumstances but every once in a while I’m like wow I could be playing for a state championship right now or be working for the last time. So it sucks in general and I think at this point we have done everything we could have done and it’s time to slowly go back to normal…might as well just open the country is my feeling.”

– Jack McHugh, Manasquan

Blot photo by Jamie Nickerson
Seniors Michael Landolfi of Tinton Falls and Dane Tedder of Ocean perform at Coffeehouse.

“Although I was disappointed that we would not conclude our senior year in person, I understand where [Murphy] was coming from and that there are greater things at stake. As much as jeopardizing senior events sucks, I am very grateful that my friends and family are still safe, my parents still have their jobs, and my life is still relatively undisrupted. It would short-sighted for someone in my situation to be overly negative when most others have it much worse.”

– Neil Estrada, Middletown

I think the worst part of the situation is that this sort of outcome was almost inevitable. With the pandemic, it doesn’t logically make sense to go back to school for the last 2-3 weeks. As much as I wanted to have these [senior] experiences, the risk of exposing a more vulnerable loved one is not worth it in my opinion. I agree with the decision that Murphy made, and we sort of have to realize the severity of COVID-19 and move on.”

– Zach Weisenstein, Marlboro 

A very small part of me was sad to hear the news because I know it means I’ll miss out on some really fun memories. The rest of me was unable to take for granted my free pass to never go back to high school again. The simple fact that I’ll never have to get out of bed to sit through another high school math class outweighs any traditions I may miss out on, and as much as I love parts of CHS I’ve been done since sophomore year.”

– Brian Schade, Tinton Falls

Marissa Ho
Junior Liam Jamolod of Howell and Class of 2020 adviser Emily Crelin enter the parade as characters from “The Magic School Bus” along with other juniors.

“Our last day in school we didn’t even know it was going to be our last, we only knew the next day was planned to be a half day. Then we didn’t get that. We missed the chance to say goodbye on the last day, to speak with the teachers who meant the most to us. The lack of closure has been frustrating. I really thought Governor Murphy had at least an ounce of warmth in his heart to let us back at least for the final weeks. Especially for the seniors. I understand that we all have to make sacrifices now, the class of 2020, more than anyone, but I really felt cases were on their way down allowing us to return some in June. Overall, in recent weeks Governor Murphy has shown the inability to look at this situation beyond just the medical/scientific view and that’s very disappointing.”  

– Christian Falcone, Allenhurst

I barely even blinked, because it was basically just a clear statement on what was already inevitable. Beyond that though I’ve become so numb to the bad news, my expectations are so low for the foreseeable future that news about things getting worse is exactly what I expect to hear.” 

– Colin Martin, Middletown

The Class of 2020 gathers for their Thompson Park group photo in 2016.