Senior Year Interrupted: It’s official – I graduated from high school

I’m looking ahead to living in the dorms and attending college classes on campus this fall

KatiegraduationvertWe finally graduated! My high school, Timberlane Regional in Plaistow, held a ceremony on July 18.

Despite the precautions we had to take, it didn’t feel too different from a regular ceremony. It’s too bad there was no live orchestra to play us in, though I did get to play at my own graduation, since they used a recording of “Pomp and Circumstance” from last year when I played double bass in the graduation band.

We did have to wear masks in that 900-degree heat and soupy humidity, but it was fine. Before the ceremony, the students sat inside in the gym in socially distanced seating. I actually enjoyed it because I didn’t feel like we were all crammed into a small space.

I wish I could have met up with my friends to take more pictures, but everybody was required to leave as soon as it was over. I had a great day overall, and I’m really glad I was able to get an official ceremony. I’ve been technically done with high school for a while, but it feels like I am completely finished now. I will miss certain aspects of high school, but I’m ready to move on to college.

Speaking of, the University of Southern Maine has announced that students will be returning to campus this fall with certain restrictions.

I’m excited because I wanted to be able to live in a dorm. Not only that but we were told this week that all incoming freshmen are getting a single this school year.

So far only one of my classes is online, so the experience may not be too altered. People will have to sit farther apart, and I’m a music major so the ensembles will have to be a lot smaller, but I’m totally willing to do whatever is needed so I can physically be on campus.

It is a shame that I won’t be able to leave campus, since I was looking forward to living close to Portland and exploring the city and gigging there. But it’s OK. I’ll be able to do that someday, hopefully.

It’s also a huge relief to hear that the states in which COVID-19 cases are going down include New Hampshire and Maine — the state I live in now, and the state I’m going to live in soon. I’m optimistic about my college future.

I had time to kill as the summer wore on, so I attended the Victor Wooten Bass Camp online via Zoom, which was an interesting experience. I was able to attend in person just outside of Nashville, Tenn., last year, so it was interesting to see how they were able to adapt to a new venue.

There was a lot of valuable information to take-in during the webinars. There was less demonstrating certain things on the instrument and more “here’s something you can do on your instrument at home on your own time.”

However, having it online had its benefits — like being able to sleep in my own bed and not have to get dressed, and also being able to have anybody in the world involved.

The instructors and guest speakers were international, and included bass players like Chuck Rainey (Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, and many others), jazz legend Stanley Clarke, and Paul Simon’s fretless bass player, Bakithi Kumalo. It was a great learning experience that I’m glad I had.

I have also been able to see my friends this summer with the proper safety precautions — masks and proper distancing.

A part of quarantine that I hated at the beginning was not being to see my friends, especially those returning from college. Thankfully I’ve been able to spend time with a couple of them in person. It’s been great to be able to get out of the house and do a campfire and catch up with everyone.

Being able to see people outside of my family once or twice a week has definitely made things a lot easier lately.

My experience during the quarantine has improved and given me a chance to spend some time at home with my family before I start the next chapter of my life at college. It’s been great to see so much kindness from other people going out of their way to be helpful to others as well. I hope by the time all of this is over, that sort of thing continues.

Katie Burke is a recent graduate of Timberlane Regional High School and plans to study music education at the University of Southern Maine in the fall. Or go crazy. To read the first three parts of Katie’s journal related to being a senior in high school during COVID-19, click here.

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