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Goodbye high school, hello uncertainty: 3 seniors on what it’s like to graduate during a pandemic

graduation caps  being thrown in the air
Satria Perkasa
Stateside talked to three graduating high school seniors about what it's like when a major life milestone gets overshadowed by a global public health crisis.

High school seniors have all of the concerns that younger kids have right now. They're missing their friends, their schools, and their normal schedules. On top of that, they are uncertain about what their next steps will look like or how the deep economic ripples caused by the pandemic will affect them. It's anything but a fun summer. Stateside talked to three high school seniors about what it's like when a major milestone gets overshadowed by a global public health pandemic. 

Credit Courtesy of LaMar Prince
Prince had interest in studying disease research after learning about CRISPR Cas9 in biology. He said that COVID-19 does not deter him from going into this field, instead it emboldens him.

LaMar "Deuce" Price II

  • Graduating from University of Detroit Jesuit High School.
  • Price will attend Xavier University in New Orleans to study disease research.

Concerns surrounding moving to New Orleans during the COVID-19 outbreak have complicated Price’s fall plans.
“My mom obviously has had to do a lot of looking with me about schools, environments around the school, kind of a lot of stuff where it’s like, is this the best where you want to go, is this place going to be safe by the time you move down to school. A lot of decisions that we really didn’t think we were going to have to think about as intently during the decision process,” said Price.  

Stateside’s conversation with Olivia Yates

Olivia Yates

Olivia Yates smiling at the camera
Credit Courtesy of Olivia Yates
In response to hospitals' need for blood and plasma donations, Yates has organized a socially-distanced blood drive for her school in June.

  • Graduating from Groves High School in Beverly Hills, MI. 
  • Yates will be attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to study political science.

Yates is part of her Student Congress and has played a role in planning virtual events for the seniors at her school. But attending the online events, says Yates, comes with mixed feelings.
“You have to remember that it’s bigger than you right now, it’s bigger than anyone right now. We’re doing this to protect our grandparents and our family. I think it’s a mix of being overwhelmingly sad and overwhelmingly just proud of yourself that you can stay home and we have the ability to stay home,” said Yates.

Stateside's conversation with LaMar "Deuce" Price

Rodrigo Lopez Ruiz in a yellow vest in a school gymnasium
Credit Courtesy of Rodrigo Lopez-Ruiz
Lopez-Ruiz's mother and younger sister moved to Mexico when he was a sophomore in high school, and had to cancel their plans to visit him for his graduation ceremony. He will instead be visiting them in Mexico later this year.

Rodrigo Lopez-Ruiz

  • Graduating from Wyoming High School.
  • Lopez-Ruiz will do a year at Grand Rapids Community College. He then plans to transfer to Michigan State University to study business.

Wyoming cancelled its original graduation ceremony scheduled for May. Now, the district is tentatively planning on a ceremony in July, but Lopez-Ruiz acknowledges that it's not certain that will happen. 
"I already went through the phase where I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not graduating’. So if it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to hit me as hard as it did the first time. But it’s going to hurt to not graduate from high school, but I’m just looking on the bright side that I’m closer to graduating from college.” 

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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