Seniors mourn the loss of high school experiences


Jayden Pene, like most seniors, looked forward to following all the traditions that would have led him to his May 21 graduation. But now, hopes of attending prom, Disney Grad Night and even the final day of school to say goodbye to friends, are all gone. 

When Governor Steve Sisolak announced the cancellation of school until April 30 due to COVID-19, seniors like Pene were faced with the realization that they would miss out on many senior traditions they had looked forward to for years.

“[Senior year], to me, was supposed to be the year where I find who my real friends are,” Pene said. “It was supposed to be the time to make as many experiences with my friends who might be going away from Las Vegas after school. It was supposed to be a year where we finally find ourselves in this chapter of our lives and find how to grow into the next stage of our life.”

 Coming of age events including prom, Disney Grad Night, Senior Awards Night and even graduation have all been canceled due to social distancing measures. The governor’s closure of schools is not unexpected, as most physical campuses across the country have closed, and the United States is now the most infected country in the world. Even with hopes to hold an alternative graduation ceremony, such as a virtual commencement or smaller one on campus, students and faculty are devastated. 


    “I just can’t think of anything worse than canceling graduation ceremonies [in] a student’s senior year,” Principal Tam Larnered said. “My stepson is actually graduating this year from Foothill, my son graduates from Coronado next year. … You wait your entire life to watch your kid walk across that stage, and that’s the parent’s point of view, and for a student … most students want to walk, and they want that experience of wearing the cap and gown and marching in and crossing the stage.” 


    Spring Valley administration said they are continuing to seek ways to recognize students’ accomplishments, even though there most likely won’t be a traditional ceremony.


“It continues to seem more and more unlikely that we will be able to have a traditional commencement ceremony on May 21,” Larnerd wrote in an email sent out to parents and students on March 31.


    Senior Spencer Dee said that while he is disappointed, he trusts the Spring Valley staff to come up with the best option for students.


“These events meant a lot to me and many of my peers because it represents a celebration of our hard work and achievements,” Dee said. “Now that these events are likely canceled, the senior experience is merely our bonding as a class among past activities, namely senior sunrise and assemblies. … I have good faith that the school will try their absolute best to recognize student accomplishments.”


Many seniors are also dwelling on the reality that they can no longer celebrate with friends before they go to college.


“My idea was to leave the year with a boom, doing most of the activities I love and relaxing,” senior Ronnie Tran said. “It was important because it felt like the 12 years of school [had] led up to this big ceremony and experience with prom and all. … I love the traditions of senior year because it feels like a reward for accomplishing the year.”


Pene agreed, noting that many of his friends will leave Las Vegas for college.


“It was supposed to be the time to make experiences with my friends who might be [leaving] Las Vegas after school [ends],” Pene said. “It was supposed to be a year where we finally find ourselves in this chapter of our lives and find how to grow into the next stage of our life. Now that the ‘Senior Experience’ is gone, I’m a little sad that I’ll get to miss out on high school experiences such as prom, grad nite and maybe graduation too.”


Senior grad night, the yearly tradition in which seniors go to DisneyLand for a day was the first of the cancelations, followed closely by prom.


“This has greatly impacted my senior year in a negative way,” Pene said. “Senior year is supposed to be the best time of high school and the year we cherish most. Now, I lost two months’ worth of time seeing my friends before we all go our separate ways after school.”


 The Senior Grad Walk, an event where seniors have the opportunity to parade around Spring Valley in their cap and gown, which many looked forward to, has been canceled. With no celebrations to look forward to, many seniors said they struggle to find meaning in completing the rest of their classes.


“For me, school feels like a drag that I don’t feel compelled to interact with anymore, as all extracurriculars are canceled,” Tran said. “I can’t find the motivation to really continue since there’s not much for me to look forward [to] in school.”


Pene, who says it’s been hard to keep up with distance learning, agreed.


“Now that I’m home every second of the day, I don’t feel as motivated to complete my work,” Pene said. “Another reason is that, since the assignments are just posted, it’s hard to fully understand them since I don’t have the teacher present to help me. Although we do have access to emailing, it still is really hard to express my inquiries about an assignment to its full extent.”


Although the feeling of sadness is common among seniors, most said they still understand why all the cancellations continue to take place. 


“I feel that things may not be perfect, but at least we can appreciate the health of our family and friends,” senior Andres Carrasco said. “Knowing the caring staff at SV, they will ensure we still have a prom, graduation and [some sort of] a senior night. So I feel we all should be patient, and what happens happens. It’s no one’s fault that this pandemic has affected all of us in several ways. The class of 2020 will get through this, and we will still do big things.”