And Just Like That, High School Is Over

I took this one at All-State Orchestra auditions a few weeks ago, before life became surreal. My son and the other auditioning violinists from his high school orchestra hung out together all day, waiting for their turns. They seemed to have a fantastic time. Jon Morgan is the one in the back.

The governor of Virginia announced today that state K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the school year. I don’t fault him for making the decision. Our schools were already closed through the end of spring break in mid-April, but anyone who thinks this global coronavirus pandemic will be over by then is, well, President Trump, who claims the virus will disappear “like a miracle.” And we all know how much his pronouncements are worth. Besides, Governor Northam is a doctor; he knows the situation better than most of us.

But I’m sad for my son. Jon Morgan is scheduled to graduate June 13, and the city school superintendent still says our seniors will graduate on time. They will have online classwork. But so much had already been canceled (most importantly, the school orchestra trip to Boston, which was supposed to take place in early April) and now I’m afraid online classes will provide all the things he doesn’t like about school, without the consolations of friends and laughter — and in his case, music.

He says he doesn’t mind never going back to high school. He has been suffering from extreme senioritis and was feeling so ready to move on. I understand being sick and tired of the classes and the routine. But now he’ll miss out on so much more than that:

  • The three-week Senior Experience program in May, when he was planning to volunteer as an assistant to George Washington Middle School orchestra director.
  • Senior prom with his girlfriend.
  • His final T.C. Williams High School orchestra concert, the one with special recognition for all the graduating seniors.
  • Most likely his final Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra concert — which is a shame, since the group was supposed to premiere a movement of the first symphony he’s composed for full orchestra
  • The premiere of another classical orchestra piece he’s composing now, one he was commissioned to write for the Francis Hammond Middle School orchestra to perform at its spring concert.
  • His final Northern Virginia District and Virginia State Reflections awards presentation.
  • Getting his yearbook at school and having friends and teachers sign it.
  • The All-Night Grad Party.
  • And, most iconic of all, his high-school graduation ceremony, which I assume will have to be canceled.

Maybe the worst is that he won’t be able to just hang out with his friends. It’s not like a snow day when they can get together to watch movies, drink hot chocolate, complain about teachers, and speculate about which colleges they’ll attend. The last part of senior year was supposed to be their time, what they’ve been working for all these years, and they deserve the chance to celebrate it together.

Jon Morgan and his girlfriend Kat went to the Winter Formal together, but now there will not be a Senior Prom.

The more I think about it, the more I’m grieving for what he has lost, even though it hasn’t hit him yet. I grieve for what they’ve all lost. My husband and I have been actively involved with his school orchestras for years, and we have gotten to know all of the talented, vibrant kids he performs with. They don’t deserve this.

Of course, it’s the right decision. We’re talking about the possibility of millions of people dying, and that has to take priority over wearing a cap and gown and going to parties and concerts. But our kids should have been allowed to be kids for just a few months more.

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