Lancer Spirit: Community celebrates seniors despite quarantine uncertainty

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Yesenia Montenegro

Efren Montenegro displays a Class of 2020 sign to celebrate his daughter Yesenia Montenegro.

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Actor John Krasinski hosted a virtual prom for the Class of 2020 on Saturday, April 18. For the many seniors who may not be able to experience a traditional prom this year, this event was a reminder that there are still ways to celebrate this final year of high school (even if they aren’t exactly like we imagined).

Instead of spending their last few weeks of high school with their classmates, Class of 2020 is stuck at home. No sports, no prom, no senioritis.

Senior Alyson Zieg-Sniffen said, “I know a lot of us have been waiting for so long to experience being a senior with trips, performances, championships, etc. It’s taken a lot of adapting to wrap my head around everything that’s going on.” 

However, the parents and faculty refuse let this class go uncelebrated. 

They are designing and purchasing signs, sharing stories and pictures from their own high school experiences, and some are even hosting prom for their family at home. Although the Class of 2020 can’t be with each other, these projects are bringing them closer together, even with social distancing. 

Senior Elizabeth Anderson said, “While I know all students are dealing with challenges in this time, seniors are the ones who can’t make up that time after… I worry that if quarantine continues, not only will I miss out on senior events like prom or graduation, but I’ll also miss out on valuable time with people I care about.”

Senior Abigail Parker said that her parents have helped her make daily schedules with tasks to organize her days. 

“It gives the day structure and makes it feel like I’ve actually accomplished something rather than just sitting around the house all day,” said Parker, “It has been good mentally.”

Parents are also finding personal ways to remember their children’s time in high school and everything they have accomplished, or make up for events that have been rescheduled or cancelled.  

“Abbey and I are having a t-shirt quilt made to remember her 13 years as Girl Scout. We are waiting to see what guidance we get regarding graduation and prom and would definitely like to do something! I ordered a sign to acknowledge the LHS graduating class and celebrate Abbey’s accomplishments as a part of that class,” said Parker’s mom Kim Parker. 

Zieg-Sniffen said, “My mom has been trying to comfort me as best she can by buying me plenty of ice cream and going on long walks.”

“Really, I think what’s lifted my spirits most has been the fact that my family is now able to take daily time to spend with each other, whether it’s catching up on TV shows, playing board games, walking or running, or just talking. Earlier this year, I was wishing that my family would have more time to spend with each other before I left for college. I definitely didn’t expect a pandemic to occur, but in staying at home I am getting some more of that time,” said Anderson.

The “Class of 2020” signs have been popular. Anderson’s parents bought one of these signs to surprise her, which was, according to Elizabeth, “only a little bit embarrassing and a lot thoughtful.”

Ilisa Frank Oman, whose son, Aaron Oman, is a senior this year, organized this project for the Class of 2020. 

“I had been trying to think of ways to celebrate the seniors because they are some of the most amazing kids I have ever known. When I saw a picture last week of a sign my friends in Texas got for her daughter, I thought it was a great idea and designed one,” she said. 

After sending her design to a few friends to see if they wanted to order one, the idea quickly spread. It seemed like everyone wanted to order a sign for their children, so Oman created a Facebook group which gave everyone the chance to order a sign. 

“I created the Facebook group when it was obvious that a lot of people were interested in the signs and celebrating the kids. It’s much easier to communicate that way,” Oman said. 

She got in contact with Ray Wolfe, who owns Sidemind Creations, a local company in Union Bridge, Maryland, and ordered the signs from him. Wolfe has made signs for Linganore in the past. He has worked with Linganore Youth Football and he was also working with the drama department on the spring musical. 

Luckily, Sidemind Creations has not been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and Wolfe has been able to continue running his business as usual. “Nothing has really changed for me since this pandemic. Nothing in a bad way. A lot of my stuff is online, so it is all kind of print on demand. Nothing has really affected me too much,” said Wolfe.

Sidemind Creations has started getting orders for signs from several other schools as well. 

“Catoctin High School, Middletown High School, and maybe Monrovia Elementary School or Green Valley Elementary School are going to be contacting me soon,” said Wolfe. 

Oman kept track of all the orders, payment, and distribution. She ended up ordering a total of 160 signs and now even more people are ordering them if they missed the original order. Oman has also organized a pick up system. Parents were able to stop by Oman’s house, where signs were laid out on the porch, complete with disinfectant wipes to keep everything sanitary. 

“I live near Food Lion, so people are just picking the signs up off my porch when they are out getting groceries,“ she said. 

Parents have been sharing pictures of students with their signs in the Facebook group. While going on walks or going to the grocery store, you can usually see many signs in front of people’s houses, which is a nice reminder that even during this time, there are still ways to celebrate the Class of 2020. 

“It’s awful at what a raw deal your class is getting. There’s nothing we can do to help it, but all of us parents feel so sad for you guys. I think you students are so strong!” said Oman. 

FCPS is doing as much as possible to honor seniors and still make them feel special during this time. They have just announced a door-decorating contest to recognize the Class of 2020. Families are encouraged to decorate a door in their house with pictures and highlights from the students’ high school careers. This contest is running through May 1. Pictures can be posted using #FCPSClassof2020 and #DoorDecor2020. 

Another way to get involved is by submitting blogs or vlogs to FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban’s Off the Cuff blog. Seniors are being asked to send in videos or written work by Friday, May 1. The top entries will be featured in Off the Cuff for a project called Reflections from the Class of 2020