The year that never was – Part 2

Sandpoint High School seniors share what it’s like to have their graduation year sidelined by the coronavirus

Editor’s note: We reached out to a few graduating seniors at Sandpoint High School to ask how the coronavirus has affected their final year of secondary education. We asked each student how their lives have been altered by the closure of schools for the rest of their senior year, what they were most looking forward to this year, if there are any positives that have come out of this situation and how students were reacting to distance learning. Special thanks to SHS social studies teacher Conor Baranski for putting us in touch with some of his students.


Brielle Dillon

Brielle Dillon.

Obviously, the coronavirus has impacted us all in some pretty substantial ways. Personally, almost every major part of my life of a high-school student has been shut down. Because of the school’s soft closure,  I no longer have a school building to go to and I don’t see any of my classmates or teachers. As annoying and frustrating as physically going to school can sometimes be, I’ve realized that my life feels pretty empty without it. I’ve been volunteering at the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint this school year and it’s completely shut down now. Because I also work in the food industry, which has been heavily impacted by the stay-at-home order, I don’t really have a job right now, either. The combination of the two orders has pretty successfully put life as I’ve known it on hold.

I’m a graduating senior this year and there was a lot I was looking forward to that I don’t get to participate in because of the school closure. There are all these senior year rituals that you dream about getting to do as you’re growing up and all of the sudden I don’t get to do them. It feels surreal. 

As melodramatic as it sounds, I think there’s a reflective period that you go through at the end of your senior year as you say goodbye to your childhood and get ready for life after high school, and it almost feels like that opportunity has been taken away. Every social aspect of high school has been cut short and there’s a definite sense of loss. 

The end of senior year is about celebrating your accomplishments. There’s this sense of class unity just in the fact that we did it. We made it through high school together. We don’t get to celebrate that anymore and that feels like the biggest loss for me.

Despite this loss, there is still an upside to the fact that I literally never have to “go” to school. I didn’t expect how much free time I would have while still technically doing school, but having that flexibility in my schedule has given me the opportunity to try new things. I have the chance to pause, reflect and grow without worrying about other obligations. 

Distance learning itself is pretty easy, considering the fact that a public school has been forced online. All of the teachers have been really understanding with any learning curves we’ve had, but I think a lot of us students are having a hard time remembering to put as much effort into school as we usually do. 

It’s hard to concentrate on something that doesn’t feel very tangible anymore. 

A lot of senior-level classes use a discussion based learning style that has definitely been hindered, but we’re able to learn at our own pace for the most part, which is really helpful. 

I think school feels a little less stressful for all of us, which is a really nice change.


Savannah Morgan

Savannah Morgan.

As you already know, Sandpoint High School has closed its doors during this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are definitely mixed emotions throughout the school. For some, it may feel like an extra-long spring break, while others feel that they are missing out on some of the most memorable years of their lives. Of course, every grade in the school is feeling the effects of this “soft closure,” but none more so than that of the class of 2020. 

I have attended Sandpoint High School for my entire high-school career, I have been a cheerleader, in student council, National Honors Society and an officer of HOSA Future Health Professionals. I am probably more involved in school than the average SHS student, so it would not come as a surprise to most that I am disappointed with not being able to attend school and school functions per usual. 

This year, I am the senior class president and have worked alongside other Senior Class Representatives Kendall Mitton, James Griffin and Holly Kassa, to plan senior oriented events, such as senior sunrise/sunset, declaration day and prom. Along with this, our class will be missing out on events such as mock DUI, graduation and Grad Night. These events are not planned by the senior class, but parents, administration and the junior class representatives. Furthermore, many seniors in our class will be missing out on spring sports and club/extracurricular activities that have been canceled. 

Adapting to distance learning has been a challenge, as it is very different from what we are used to. Luckily, our school has platforms, such as Zoom, Google applications and Schoology, which have made it easier to stay in contact with our teachers and complete assignments. What has been a challenge for me is staying focused and keeping motivated, because many of the events and activities I have been looking forward to may very likely be canceled. 

A class that has been especially difficult has been my Certified Nursing Assistant class because we have missed out on clinical hours at Bonner General Hospital and have been unable to practice skills that we need to pass our upcoming CNA test; though, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to shadow doctors, nurses and CNAs at Bonner General Hospital prior to the outbreak. Their level of kindness and compassion gives me great reassurance at this time. 

As easy as it would be to focus on all of the uncertainties at this time — whether my fellow classmates will have their senior night, if we will get to dance at prom, if we will get to wear our graduation gowns or watch the sun set on our senior year together — we can instead use this time to reflect on the memories that we did make. Battle for the Paddle, Friday night football games, homecoming weeks, school dances and more. 

I am so thankful to be a part of a community that has given an outpouring of love and support to our class; the teachers that have never given up on us and continue to encourage us, even though we no longer see them face to face; and for our parents and family members who have supported us every step of the way. 

With this, I am hopeful that this experience will make our class even stronger, and gain a greater perspective. I am proud to be a part of the class of 2020! 

Thank you for this opportunity to share my perspective with you. I hope that you and your family are well.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.