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Here's how the coronavirus is impacting high school seniors

unc seniors
Incoming UNC first-year Riley Welch edits her Carolina Girls audition video, but now it's unclear if students will be on campus in the fall. Photo courtesy of Riley Welch.

The last few months of high school are what most seniors dream about and look forward to.

However, in North Carolina, the secondary education of graduating seniors may have ended on March 16, when Gov. Roy Cooper closed all public schools for two weeks. That time frame was extended through May 15, and there is no word yet on whether that it will stand or if schools will be closed for the rest of the school year.

Most seniors have had their proms canceled or postponed, their graduation is still up in the air and a lot of the other events — from senior awards ceremonies to athletic senior nights — have been canceled, too.

Caroline Cochrane, an incoming UNC first-year from Greensboro, said her senior walkthrough and their class trip to Carowinds were some of the few things that were canceled, and there are so many unknowns right now.

“It makes me feel really scared because I might get (the events), but I might not get it, so I can’t get my hopes up,” Cochrane said. “It feels like my senior year is being ripped away.”

Chapel Hill High School Principal Charles Blanchard said they are making contingency plans for the seniors in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, depending on what the governor’s office decides to do with the rest of the school year. 

Blanchard said if they are able to come back, they would try to put together some type of prom. 

He said they also sent out a survey last week to the seniors and families in the district to figure out options for graduation, including holding graduation on July 11 or July 25. 

“We're trying to get some feedback on which of those two dates in July would work best,” Blanchard said. “Then we also included a question that if we’re not able to do a ceremony in July, would we want to consider a virtual ceremony or maybe a face-to-face ceremony in December over winter break.”

While plans for high schoolers are still unknown, two things will definitely be different for the class of 2024 as compared to previous years: there will be no Admitted Student Day and New Student Orientation will now be held online. 

Riley Welch, an incoming first-year from Windermere, Florida, said she was really upset because she’s an out-of-state student and doesn’t know many people going to UNC. 

“I was just looking forward to that opportunity to meet people, but I’m just trying to make the most of it online,” Welch said. “I think I will be missing just getting to know the campus because I’ve only been there a few times, so I haven’t been able to really get used to as much as some people from North Carolina have.”

Maddie Shober, an incoming first-year from Charlotte, said she hadn’t yet decided on going to UNC when Admitted Student Day got canceled, and it would have been the turning point. 

“It is disappointing because you want to meet people and be on campus and what’s it's like,” Shober said. “With orientation, it’s going to be sad because I feel like it’s supposed to be really fun, meeting people, and we’re not going to be able to have that same ability.”

She said the worst case scenario would be if she and her fellow first-years have to do online classes for their first semester.

At the end of the day, Blanchard said all the CHHS faculty and staff is heartbroken for the students having to end the school year this way, but more than any other group, their seniors.

“This should be the most special year of your life," he said. "Right now, you should be having senior night on the athletic fields and picking up your graduation supplies. Everybody, the whole faculty and staff, is sad, but we're committed to trying to find ways to make this time special.”

@kecarpenter1

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 


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