More than three million high school seniors will graduate this year but, thanks to COVID-19, they will likely miss the pomp and circumstance they were expecting. Many school systems have closed for the remainder of the year, meaning no proms or graduation ceremonies.
"I loved school and I miss it so much. I miss seeing my friends," said high school senior Kenya Morris of Caroline County, Virginia.
She was all smiles on the first day of her senior hear at Caroline High School. Little did she or anyone else know an international crisis would cut it short. she was blindsided by the news in March.
"I was crying for at least two hours because in the back of my head I was hoping this wasn't true that this was going to go away," Kenya said. "It's going to be fine. I'm still It's going to have my prom. I'm still It's going to have my graduation. It's going to go away by April. It's going to be fine."
"Then they said school's canceled for the rest of the year, no prom, no graduation. Sorry. Even though this is something that is completely out of our control, I was still like 'dang it!" she added
It's bittersweet as she and her family look at her senior portrait, pictures of trying on her prom dress. Even the cap and gown that arrived weeks ago in the mail.
"I wanted my prom to celebrate 'Hey, this is my last year here,'" Kenya said. "You've been working so hard for a little over a decade trying to get to this point, and all of the sudden it's just taken from you."
Doctors diagnosed Kenya with a learning disability as she entered kindergarten. Yet, by the seventh grade, she had worked through it, going on to thrive academically, even becoming president of the school's National Honor Society chapter.
"I wanted my graduation to be like I did it, I did it," Morris said. "Look at this, I did it. I've proven to myself and others I can do it and so can you."
"I hate seeing their disappointment as a mom, as a parent that's hard for me," said Kenya's mother Amanda Morris.
It's disappointing on all sides.
"Because my oldest was homeschooled and I didn't get to see her walk across the stage," Amanda said. "So Kenya was going to be our first one to walk across the stage and get the diploma and I was so excited."
According to Caroline High's website, school officials hope to reschedule both events before the fall.
"It's a very limited amount of time to get in a prom and a graduation," Amanda said. "I hope they can do it, I do."
"I didn't work this hard for nothing," Kenya said.
Though the current situation is disappointing, Kenya is still determined. She plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall to study neonatal nursing.
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