2020 | Bethesda Beat

Coronavirus Chronicles: Graduating without an ending

‘In the past few months, I have reassessed what I thought I was supposed to feel at school events.’

The essay author, Katie Hanson

From Katie Hanson

(Editor’s note: This essay is part of Bethesda Beat’s Coronavirus Chronicles personal essay series. Visit the submission page to learn more.)

For most of high school, I wasn’t interested in the landmark moments. I normally chose a dress from my closet the day of homecoming, I avoided football games and I didn’t dress up for spirit days.

This fall, when my senior year rolled around, I had a sudden desire to be more involved.

With every milestone turning into our last, I felt sentimental and wanted to have more of a stake in each event.

Even though I struggled to pin a boutonniere, barely recognized my school’s chants, and rarely wore school apparel, I realized school events were about more than checking off items on a bucket list.

One of this year’s first football games was neon themed. Clad in orange zebra-print leggings, I sat in my math class feeling prepared. That night, I stood in the front row, chanting with unapologetic enthusiasm.

Later, I hopped the railing and clumsily danced while my friends cheered in the stands. I was most definitely overdoing what I thought was an appropriate display of school spirit, but it felt natural.

A year ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of fulfilling what I considered to be a series of clichés. But in the past few months, I have reassessed what I thought I was supposed to feel at school events.

More so than walking across the stage to accept my diploma at graduation, I wanted to cheer the loudest for my best friends.

Rather than looking forward to a floor-length gown at prom, I couldn’t wait to make a final memory that would act as the last photo in our four-year album.

Senior year was all about embracing those clichés. Without our final two events, prom and graduation, my high school experience feels like an unfinished book abruptly closed.

Katie Hanson will soon be a graduate of Walt Whitman High School. She plans to attend Scripps College in Claremont, California, in the fall.


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