High school and college students lose many traditions such as graduation


Photo by Mikai Tasch

This photo shows band teacher Dennis Lindsay along with his one in-person student for Percussion Ensemble on the b day. A room that would usually be filled with around 30 students playing a variety of instruments, from Marimbas to Tom Toms, instead only shows one student and Lindsay doing their “independent studies” while the stands and chairs (not pictured) sit with no one using them during this period. Many of the students in Percussion Ensemble are doing full on distance learning, and in early November with the start of quarter two, this room will be left fully empty.

Generational theft has been used to describe how many seniors, freshman and sophomores in college have/will lose their high school, and college traditions this year. This makes the end of high school and the start of college so special, not just around the Twin Cities, but all over the country, and the world. This comes as a result of the Coronavirus, which has taken almost 230,000 people’s lives in the U.S.

These students lost a variety of traditional experiences: homecoming, prom, graduation, the college experience and so much more. These students do not have the same opportunities as before. If Minnesota would have taken more precautions earlier on, such as the mask mandate not incorporated into our lives until mid-August, people in the U.S. would most likely be better off now. 

Since mid-March, we have been struck with a different life altogether. Starting with stay-at-home orders, this expanded to many young adults losing high school and college traditions that make these years so spectacular. This relates to the term generational theft to encapsulate the issues these people have gone through, and the loss of those experiences.

Because of generational theft, their experience has not necessarily been the same. This is something that many have struggled with.

Khuluc Yang, a freshman at St. Thomas, explained how the Coronavirus took many things from her. She did not get a full graduation, her senior prom or her first college homecoming because of safety concerns.

The Coronavirus pandemic is stealing different things from high school seniors and students in college. This is shown by the fact that Yang had lost prom and in-person graduation. Although she was able to have a graduation, the YouTube Live graduation was not the same as the Roy Wilkins Auditorium graduation.

If there would have been more guidelines from the beginning, we would most likely be in a better place now. Because of many people, including the president, downplaying the virus, we are now stuck with these issues.

College is about you making your own choices and being able to kind of do what you want, which is for a lot of people, a very different experience from high school because in high school you live with your parents. Especially since I’ve been home for so long, it can kind of start to feel like I’m back in high school, and like having the same kind of rules that I would have in high school.

— Maryn Johnson

“I think, besides the obvious of putting down mass mandates, before we did just like really early on.  I think that a lot of the stuff that we’re doing now is exactly what we should have been doing, trying to and knowing what the purpose is. I think a lot of times people will be hanging out with friends and they won’t wear a mask because they are friends,” senior Levi Hutton said.

Looking at different countries around the world such as New Zealand, they chose to implement strong border-control policies and prepared for more room in hospitals back in February. If we would have been more cautious from the beginning, these seniors would not have as many things “stolen” from them. The true high school and college experience has officially disappeared.

Because of this theft, many of these students have had a loss of freedom, with coming back home from college. Some are now living in their parent’s basements.

“College is about you making your own choices and being able to kind of do what you want, which is for a lot of people, a very different experience from high school because in high school you live with your parents. They [parents] can still have house rules, all that kind of stuff and then when you’re in college that all goes away, but then when you come back. Especially since I’ve been home for so long, it can kind of start to feel like I’m back in high school, and like having the same kind of rules that I would have in high school,” Maryn Johnson, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.

Loss is something that no one wants to go through, but the loss of freedom is something extremely difficult to lose. Freedom represents a joyful experience in college where students can live their lives without your parent’s approval. Because of the virus, college students have lost the joyful experience of freedom to some degree.

Furthermore, it has been hard for some students to complete homework fully and have motivation. This is hardest for students who are fully distance learning because they do not get any in-person interactions. Distance learning has been hard for most people because some students lose the in-person experience of getting help from teachers and interacting with fellow friends. 

Hutton has talked about how “it’s a lot more difficult to find the motivation” than he previously had when he had to go to school every day. He was able to see his teachers and peers who were in the same position as he was homework-wise.

Throughout this year, students have lost one thing after another. From losing basic interactions to not being able to have the full college experience, this year has been a let down for many.  Although many downsides are apparent of this virus, one could say that there are a few positive results of the virus. With distance learning, instead of having to get up at 6:30 a.m. and drive to school, you can lay in bed until a minute before your first Zoom call and then jump on that. Some also keep their pajamas on all day. Although this is a positive of the virus, more negatives are apparent. From losing loved ones to not being able to have true experience of high school and college, this virus has truly been a let down for many.

“I don’t feel safe going home. I don’t want to risk it and give my family the virus. I don’t want to be the person who’s like, ‘oh, sorry, grandma, I got you sick because I came home over the weekend,’” Yang said. Many haven’t seen their grandparents in months because they do not want to get them sick. If we want to start fixing everything that this virus has messed up, we must “Mask up Minnesota.”