The graduation class once meant to be known as Class of 2020 may now be considered the Class of COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Kentucky's school districts have closed their schools to in-person learning until at least April 20. These closures have caused many seniors in high schools around the state to worry about what was once meant to be one of the most exciting years of their lives.
Seniors here in Madison County have begun to worry about whether or not they will be able to participate in a traditional walk for graduation. They are also fearing prom, which for some is an important right of passage, may be canceled.
Erin Stewart, community education director for Madison County Schools, said the pandemic has caused a major disruption to all of lives, including putting on hold "wonderful, magical moments" for students.
Amidst all of this worry though, one senior is hoping to brighten things for his fellow seniors and his Facebook post has gone viral.
Caleb Setser, a senior at Madison Central High School, told The Register he made the post after hearing a lot of friends talking about how their senior year was ruined. He explained he wanted to put something out to make his fellow seniors possibly feel a bit better as well let them know their senior year didn't have to be over.
"Leaving school last Friday, I never imagined that it could have been my last day at Madison Central. Now, the idea that I may never get to experience a proper last day with the people I've waited with for the past four years makes this time of stress and discomfort a lot harder to accept. It serves as a tough reminder to live every day to its fullest potential because life can change in a heartbeat. While the world deals with a problem that is truly bigger than us, our only option is to change our perspective and try to share some positivity," Setser said in a Facebook post.
Stewart said Caleb's words are extraordinary and his perspective is one that all should share.
"Our seniors have every right to be angry at what may be taken from them," Stewart said. "And they would be right in feeling that way. It certainly isn't fair. But we hope they will adopt Caleb's line of thinking and stay positive through this unforeseen season in our lives."
Stewart said much good can still be done despite the social distancing all must adhere to. She said the district must follow the recommendations of the state government and do its part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
"But we want to assure our seniors that we will do everything possible to make their final weeks as seniors memorable ones," she said. "Right now, we don't know what shape these events may take or what timeline they may occur on, but our hope is that they won't have to miss any of it."
Setser explained he has seen numerous posts floating around on social media, which has promised to help keep seniors' final year as normal as possible. He mentioned a post made by Madison Avenue, which is located at 830 Eastern Bypass in Richmond, that promised to help seniors still have a prom even if their school's traditional prom is canceled.
"Here at Madison Avenue we are diligently working with @americanpageants, @kissthebridgeboutique and Celebration Station and event planners to make sure any of our local and surrounding area school have a chance to celebrate the ending of their junior and senior year. First and foremost to us is everyone's safety and well being. Having said that, once it is safe to do so, and quarantines have been lifted, we will be working with local business to host proms for individual schools who have canceled their proms. More details will follow," according to the Madison Avenue Facebook post.
Setser hopes his fellow seniors will know they will have senior events to look forward to still. It just might not be in the timeline they had originally been planning on.
Setser is trying to look at this break as a time to improve himself and get ready for college. He noted the social distancing issue is a temporary thing. However, he said, it could become permanent if people do not follow the precautions. Setster said one way he is trying to stay on the ball is with his grades.
"If we give up and don't do our work, our grades will be affected and it could have a lasting effect on us," Setser said.
So, he is trying to stay on a schedule and get all of his work done.
"I'm trying to make this go by as easily as possible," Setser said.
This isn't to say Setser isn't missing out on events he had hoped for. He said his family had planned to visit Florida for spring break and they just had to cancel their plans. However, he isn't letting this get him down.
"Once all of this is over, we will appreciate the last few days even more had this not happened. I think we will see a lot of people taking advantage of it in a special way," Setser said.