Not as planned: graduating seniors mourning the loss of a season amid COVID-19 cancellations

The class of 2020 is watching a long-awaited personal milestone come and go in a very unconventional way due to COVID-19-related changes. 

A senior year is typically full of nostalgic “lasts” that students have time to process and anticipate. The last bus ride from DeMoss to North, the last dinner at the Rot before Campus Community, the last reading day spent frantically preparing for final exams. 

Those in extracurricular activities such as athletics or theater were prepared to run a last race, play a last game or take a last bow. 

Additionally, every senior looks forward to tossing their hat at graduation, celebrating years of hard work and signifying the end of a momentous season of life. 

The class of 2020  had their final classes, games and shows canceled in the wake of the pandemic, and graduation is pushed back to Sep. 11. 

Liberty seniors Maddy Rasmusson and Savannah Schwartz are both members of this group.  

Rasmusson is a senior in the theater program. She was set to go on an LU Send trip to Colombia over her last collegiate spring break, but it was canceled due to the coronavirus. Instead, she chose to go home and quarantine with family over break. 

“When the news came out that classes would not resume residentially, I chose to go back to my apartment in Lynchburg because I felt I would be in a better headspace to complete classes there,” Rasmusson said, “Also, I’m paying rent for my apartment until June, so I thought quarantining in Lynchburg would be the smartest thing for me to do.”

Schwartz, a social work major from West Palm Beach, was home with a few friends over spring break when Liberty canceled residential classes. She also decided to return to Lynchburg to finish out her senior year. 

“I was finishing up a full-time internship (in Lynchburg), and it was easier for me to get my work done in a quiet house.”

Rasmusson, like many others, is struggling to reconcile her long-awaited idea of what her graduation season would be like with the current reality.  

“The hardest thing about being a senior right now is the fact that I’ve looked forward to these last couple months of college for a really long time, and now they aren’t happening like they are supposed to,” Rasmusson said, “I was so excited to celebrate the last week of classes, take my last bow on the Tower Stage and graduate with my best friends.” 

After she found out that school would not go on as usual after spring break, Schwartz was hit with the reality that she would soon say goodbye to many lifelong friends and had already unknowingly said goodbye to others. 

“It was sad that a lot of friends moved away so suddenly … we were jolted into adult life at a time when no (employers) are hiring,” Schwartz said. “It’s like ripping off a nasty band-aid. You know you have to do it, but you also know it’s not going to be pretty.” 

Although graduation will not look like these seniors anticipated, they both plan on celebrating the day in a fun way with their families. 

“I will probably celebrate with a nice steak dinner or something,” Schwartz said, “It’s pretty anticlimactic, but it is what it is, and I am a pretty low-key human in general.”

Rasmusson will be in the process of moving out of her apartment on the anticipated graduation day but is excited to celebrate at home when restrictions ease up. 

“I know that my family is planning a huge graduation party for me once quarantine is lifted back home,” she said, “So that is definitely something to look forward to.” 

Commencement was originally set to take place Saturday, May 9, with the baccalaureate service on Friday. Graduation ceremonies are  currently postponed to Friday, Sep. 11, 2020, with a football game to celebrate the next day on Saturday. 

Kayleigh Hamer is a News reporter. Follow her on Twitter @kayleighhamerrr

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