Coronavirus concerns cancels many commencement plans for high school seniors

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- High school students who looked forward to the home stretch of their senior year feel cheated by the coronavirus that canceled their plans.

"I've never been to a high school dance, and I was waiting for my senior prom to go to prom, to experience that," said Shaun Deardorff. The CE Jordan High student has a post on Instagram, shared at @shaundartistry, that expresses his disappointment.

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"I decided to use my artistic skills to convey a picture that's worth a thousand words," he said. "There's anxiety, sadness, anger, all frustrations. It's definitely evident in the countenance of the face I drew there."

It's a hand-drawn portrait of a student wearing the traditional cap and gown, with tears on his cheeks above the face mask now required in Durham County for most public areas like grocery stores.

"This is a really hard time for seniors, and it's okay," he said. "We should let our feelings out but at the same time, keep our head up. Because we are the class that is resilient. We were born in 9/11, we came through a recession, we came through national disasters and school shootings but we're still here. We're still resilient, and we'll make it through this together."

Nina Wayne, a track star at the North Carolina School for Science and Math who lived on campus before the coronavirus concerns shut down all schools in the state in her senior year.

"I'm pretty disappointed about that," Wayne said. "It was a really important step for me. Because we had to leave most of our things at school. We could only leave with the things we could carry. We have plants dying in our rooms, we have food rotting in the refrigerators."

Shaun knows other seniors wish their final year had a different outcome.
"I'll never be able to walk the halls one last time, say 'goodbye' to my friends, my teachers. Probably won't have a graduation in person. I won't have senior prom, won't have senior night, senior awards day," he said.

"And walking across the stage with my friends, and cheering on each other," Nina said. "But it looks like that's not gonna happen and if it does happen, it'll be delayed."

She'll miss the once in a lifetime experience of ending her high school career with her classmates before a happy commencement crowd, but she knows public safety is a priority this year.

For now, she said, "I know it's important for us all to stay home and stay distant from each other."
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