Senior year interrupted: Everything is on pause

Prom time came and went, but I’m still hoping for a graduation ceremony — even if I have to wait for it
Editor’s note: Katie Burke, a senior graduating from Timberlane Regional High School, is sharing her thoughts with readers this summer about what it is like to be a high school senior getting ready for college during a pandemic. Part 2 was written in late April through mid-May. Click here to read part 1.

Katie enjoys driving around when she can. Courtesy photos.

We’re into the second month of quarantine, and we’ve begun to adapt to the new way of living.

I wouldn’t say things have gotten easier, but odd things are becoming more and more normal. While there are still plenty of struggles, there are also a lot of positives coming from this.

It’s good to see people doing good things for one another. In my town, people have started “fairy-ing” others by leaving gifts on their front porch. We received an anonymous gift package full of snacks and goodies for no reason. It’s really great to see other people go out of their way to try to better the world, since at a time like this it is desperately needed.

Another new trend: There are enough birthday drive-by parades going on that they’re starting to show up in the traffic reports. I was on my way to be a part of a parade earlier this month, and I got caught in the middle of somebody else’s motorcade.

It’s really nice to see large groups of friends and family get together to show someone that we’re thinking of them. It’s a small gesture, but it’s been great to see it become part of the new normal. I’m of the age group where I have to see a lot of my friends turn 18 stuck in their own house. It’s too bad that there isn’t much that they can do, but it’s good to see their friends and family do something about it.

Lately I’ve started doing things I hadn’t considered previously. I’ve been helping cook more often, since I realized I don’t really know how, despite the fact that I’m supposedly going to college in a couple of months. I will admit that sitting on the couch and playing video games starts to get a little monotonous after a couple of months, so occasionally getting off my butt and learning how to properly make rice out of a box is pretty rewarding.

I’ve also gotten a chance to get outside to do some yard work with my mom. It’s still not my ideal choice for passing the time since it gets really hot and tiring fast. Instead, I prefer to go outside while she does all of the work and sit down next to her and play Animal Crossing on my Switch and do virtual yard work instead. There’s a big difference between the two.


Katie Burke entertains her classmates on the night that would have been their prom

One of my favorite things to do during quarantine, however, is to just drive somewhere. Anywhere.

Whenever there’s an opportunity to just go run an errand I’m always the quickest to jump on it. I never thought just leaving the house for tiny increments of time would be so exciting. Going to the post office to drop something off while it’s sunny out with the windows down in the car always ends up being the highlight of my week. Even if I’m not the one driving, I always insist on going with my parents whenever someone needs to go to the grocery store. I enjoy my time sitting in a car for a little bit and seeing other people from a safe distance.

It’s not all virtual yard work and post office trips, though. Just last week, we should have had our senior prom. It was a shame to miss out on it, but on that day, I put on my prom dress and filmed a video of myself playing some 1980s tunes on my bass guitar for my friends and the rest of the class of 2020 who had to miss out. I’m hoping that there might be an alternative eventually, but I know that any sort of gathering like that is probably way off.

Graduation is also a big event that my classmates and I will probably have to miss. I’m more upset about having to miss graduation and getting to wear my cap and gown, but I hope in the future there will be some kind of alternative for that, too.

As I write there is still no definite substitute for the ceremony. I would hope that there would be something as soon as it’s safe. I don’t think an online graduation would be a great solution. I can’t imagine it would feel as rewarding. Even if we have to wait until next year, I would still eventually want some sort of celebration.

My high school, Timberlane Regional, had signs made for all of the graduating seniors to put on their lawn. When I went to go pick up my sign, I was able to see the school again for the first time in a while. It already felt different. Everything is pretty much over and it seems like everything has already gone by.

There was a lot of construction happening there, as well, making it feel even stranger. Still, it was good to see the school again on a nice day. It felt like summer had already started. I like having the sign, since I have something to show for finishing high school. It’s no diploma, but it’s still good.

Overall, the quarantine is still dragging on, but it’s always nice to step back and look at the highlights. Seeing all the positive things that people do is really great, and it makes me hope that after all this is over everyone comes out of it a little kinder.

Katie Burke is president of the Timberlane Regional High School’s orchestra and the Tri-M music honor society. She is a bass player who performed in the jazz combo, jazz band, chamber orchestra, orchestra and rock ensembles and in a number of musical pit bands during her time at the school. Katie is a four-year NHMEA All-State musician and she performed in the school’s improv troupe, The Milkmen. If the creek don’t rise, as it were, she’ll be attending the University of Southern Maine to study music education in the fall.

Categories: Senior Year Interrupted, Teens