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How to Celebrate Your Senior Year when Prom and Graduation are Cancelled

By Olivia Rawley, College Now AmeriCorps Career Pathways Coach

One thing that I have noticed during this COVID-19 crisis is that everyone is grieving over a loss in some form. This grief looks different for everyone, but after talking to the seniors that I work with personally at College Now, and discussing this with fellow advisors, it seems that our senior students are stricken over the loss of their prom and graduation.

Seniors, I am addressing you in this blog post: You have every right to feel robbed over this loss. High school graduation and prom are life milestones. These are things you talk of wistfully when you are younger: “When I graduate high school…” “On my senior prom night…” I’m sure many of you already bought a dress/suit for prom night, probably having spent a lot of money investing in one of the most special nights of your high school career.

As for graduation, it is the pinnacle of your high school achievements. You can walk across the stage, receive your diploma, and tell yourself that you have endured the trials and tribulations of high school so that you can revel in that moment; it’s a step toward your future.

I say all these things to reinforce why these events are important, and why it is important to make the most out of this time in your life with what is available to you. In times like these, we have to think about what we can do instead of what we can’t do. So, how do we work within the parameters of the “new normal?”

It’s time to get creative. 

I keep telling myself how grateful I am that this pandemic now instead of even a decade ago – there are so many different technologies in place now that enable us to stay connected with each other! That’s why I hate the term “social distancing;” It’s not social distancing, it’s physical distancing. Now, more than ever, we need to be in contact with our network and community. What can you do to stay connected and share these special events?

  1. Get on a Zoom chat with all your friends and dress up in your fancy prom attire and have a dance party in your living room.

I know it may seem silly to dance in your living room by yourself, but if everyone is doing it, what does it matter?

  1. Have a backyard graduation ceremony and put it on Facebook Live!

Invite family, friends, and neighbors, but follow the necessary public health advice (six feet apart and no groups larger than 10). And, the people who can’t attend can view it on Facebook Live!

  1. Make sure to share your accomplishments with friends and family.

Get on Zoom with your fellow graduates and make sure everyone has an opportunity to share what you all have accomplished in high school, and also what you hope to do moving forward. Once you’ve talked to your friends, sit down with your family for a nice dinner and share what you and your fellow students have discussed. That way, everyone can be recognized for their accomplishments!

I hope this list helps in some way, and I am sure there are many other ways that you can use technology to your advantage to make the best out of your last moments of high school. Take this time to be innovative and to persevere. We can always choose how to respond to the obstacles put in front of us.

Until next time,

Olivia