This is a weekly series highlighting some of Chatham’s graduating high school seniors in the wake of cancellations of ceremonies and traditions because of COVID-19. Want to tell us about your …
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This is a weekly series highlighting some of Chatham’s graduating high school seniors in the wake of cancellations of ceremonies and traditions because of COVID-19. Want to tell us about your senior? Reach out to us!
BEAR CREEK — Spending most of his last semester of high school from home, John Thurman, a graduating senior from Chatham Central, is trying to feel “normal.” The highlight of his day recently has been going to the coffee shop.
“That’s the only sense of normalcy these days,” he said. “It’s an evolving situation. I feel like I’m navigating the unknowns of life before even finishing high school. Dealing with the unknowns of this scary and stressful time.”
Thurman said he was used to the “normal schedule” of school. Now, with zoom classes at any time of day — even as late as 9 p.m. — he feels like the “school day never starts and never ends.” At the same time, he is very appreciative of how “willing our teachers are to work around our schedules.
“The hardest part is being your own teacher,” Thurman said. “Yeah, you can reach out to them, but it’s nothing like having them being there, not having them for the one-on-one instant support.”
At the same time, the challenge has helped him realize something that will carry him into the future.
“The self-discipline of myself is something I found interesting,” Thurman said. “That’s one thing I wouldn’t have expected.”
Thurman said he was missing his classmates as well noting that “so much of school is that social interaction.” He “so many of us” want to go back to school, but not because of academics.
“Human connection adds to our school experience and it’s so fundamental at this point,” Thurman said.
Like his fellow 2020 graduating seniors, Thurman is missing out on all the things in which seniors usually participate their final year of high school.
“I would love to have the ceremonies and events that we were supposed to have,” he said. “I would still love to have those experiences before going off to college.”
Thurman said that sometimes, members of the community don’t understand what he and his classmates are experiencing. He said that some members of older generations make comments like “we went off to war after graduation.”
“Well at least you had a graduation,” Thurman said. “You want to enjoy your senior year, but you really can’t when you’re locked in your house. But I’m coming from a place of gratitude. All the community support has helped and I am grateful to the community for that support. But calling to the realization of what is going on from our point of view.”
GOLDSTON — For Eva Mann, who is graduating from Chatham Central, there’s a “love-hate” relationship with the notion of spending her last semester of high school at home.
She admits going to school “was never my favorite thing,” but in the past year, her first at Chatham Central, her relationship with school improved and she was on track to get a 4.0 graduating grade point average. As grading shifted to pass-fail when classes moved online in March, her straight A’s became irrelevant.
“I’m just kinda stuck where I’m at and that has disqualified me for a lot of scholarships I was going to apply for,” she said.
Schooling from home is a “different learning environment” that Mann said she was not prepared for. She’d struggled in the past with online classes as she couldn’t “really interact with people, ask questions and get answers,” something that challenged her this year as well. But she credits her U.S. History teacher, Laurie Page, for her successes this semester.
“I was not expecting to get through any of this,” Mann said. “At least in the manner that I’m handling it.”
Being “stuck at home” and not being able to do the thing she enjoys doing bothers her the most.
“I can’t go spend time with my friends,” Mann said. “I can’t even do art like a used to. And being stuck at home with my family, even though it’s family and you love these people, you get sick of them very easily.”
Mann has also found it challenging to “get a good feeling” about going to college at UNC-Greensboro in the fall. She recalled challenges in communicating with officials and not being able to visit campus “even though it’s so close” as some of the reasons it’s hard to get excited about the prospect.
Mann said that others “don’t know what it’s like” to be a graduating senior in 2020. She said some people think the virus is not real or it’s just a time to not go to school and “do what we want.” But for her, she and classmates have been working hard for this moment and it’s something that others just “cannot understand.”
“You don’t know the effort we’re putting in and what’s being taken away from us,” she said. “I lost a lot of my senior year of activities that I can never go back and do. I don’t expect anyone to understand, but I don’t want them to pretend that they do.”
Eva Mann is the daughter of Chatham News + Record reporter Casey Mann. Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.