The Absence of a Goodbye


Photo provided by Laura Krell.

Laura Krell, Wilde Lake senior, takes a picture in her cap and gown at school.

You’re walking onto the stage of Merriweather Post Pavilion grinning; nerves aflutter, decked out in green and gold.  Your teachers, friends, and family have gathered together to celebrate your hard work over the last thirteen years. You could be giving a speech, singing a song, or introducing a speaker, or have the opportunity for your parent to present you with a diploma. Maybe you’re excited to show off the numerous cords and stoles you’ve collected from various clubs, honor societies, and activities. 

For the Class of 2020, this fantasy might only ever exist in their imagination. Due to Governor Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order that began at the end of March, large events and gatherings have been canceled or postponed indefinitely to decrease the spread of COVID-19. School has been canceled for the rest of the year, and for seniors, most will not get the chance to say a final goodbye.

Seniors were given yard signs to celebrate their graduation. (Photo by Sydney Lowry.)

For Wilde Lake senior Laura Krell, the biggest loss was graduation, and not being able to say goodbye to her high school friends. “We will never get to go to school with or be this close with some people again,” she says. “It’s really scary and sad that we never got those last moments of our childhood and youth to spend with our friends.”

Other Wilde Lake seniors Sam Russell and Hayley Lynch share similar opinions on why missing senior year traditions can be more than upsetting. “I just feel like I’m missing out on those final moments of calm before the storm. Senior year is your final moment where you’re not pressured to know what you have to do in the future,” Lynch explains.


Russell says, “I was looking forward to the time after I knew I was accepted into my top school and could just hang out with my friends. After all, this is the last time I get to see people before we are all off to different parts of the country.” Both long for the stress-free time spent with friends they were expecting that has been taken away by the virus.

Apart from traditional milestones such as prom and graduation, some students have been missing out on their last time participating in school clubs and activities.

Marissa Scharf, a senior at Long Reach, describes the loss of her senior year musical as heartbreaking. “We had been rehearsing for months, and the show meant so much to all of us. I was especially devastated because this was my senior show, and I had been looking forward to partaking in Senior Circle, a tradition in our theatre department. Ever since my first show freshman year, I’ve looked forward to getting to speak at my own Senior Circle,” she says. Scharf won’t get her last bow onstage, and will be participating in her Senior Circle virtually.

In light of the losses for seniors this year, Howard County has been working on creating virtual versions of graduation and awards ceremonies, as well as the PTAs providing yard signs for seniors. 

While very grateful for these gestures, it is still hard to replace traditions, and the feeling of loss is evident. Angelo Harrington II, a senior at Reservoir High School, explains that, to him, “The posters are a nice gesture, but they aren’t bringing back our prom, graduation, and senior shows. But, I also don’t blame [Howard County] because they’re going through the same stuff we are, and they’re trying their best.”