This story is from the Omaha World-Herald.
By Emily Nitcher World-Herald staff writer | Mar 19, 2020
Will Anderson wants answers.
Are his Omaha Central High School classmates doing all right? “You just want answers to all these questions you have,” Anderson said. “But no one has any answers.”
Will graduation ceremonies be held on time or at all? Is prom canceled? Will this affect his plans for college?
Five high school seniors from public and private districts around the metro area said they wonder if they have had their last day of high school.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday ordered schools in Douglas County to be closed for six to eight weeks because county health officials have identified a second community-spread case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Papillion-La Vista and Bellevue school districts in Sarpy County closed indefinitely this week in response to the spread of the virus.
Bellevue Public Schools officials said the proms for their two high schools are canceled. Other districts said it was too early to say what will happen to events such as prom and graduation.
Because of the coronavirus threat, the boys state basketball tournament was played with limited fans, and the Nebraska School Activities Association ordered a statewide suspension of practice for spring sports until March 30 and of competitions through April 2.
That leaves Papillion-La Vista High School senior Renee Thompson doing track workouts by herself. She admits it’s harder to stay motivated without the team aspect.
“It’s one thing after another,” said Papillion-La Vista South senior Shaeley Wiese of the closures and cancellations. “It’s all coming on at once and it’s a lot to think about.”
Wiese works for the district’s after-school program. She’s out of a job until classes resume.
Peyton Preston, a senior at Omaha Central High School, said her senioritis was real. She had moments when she couldn’t wait to leave high school and get on with her life. She regrets that now.
“You’ll never get to redo those memories,” Preston said.
While buying her prom dress Saturday, Preston kept joking that she probably won’t get to wear it anywhere.
College visits, high school classes and even lunch are now all virtual experiences.
Mary Clare O’Connor, a senior at Duchesne Academy, said she and her friends are planning to video chat during lunch so they can see one another.
Meanwhile, the date for O’Connor to pick a college is looming. She wonders whether the fall semester of college will even start on time.
“We’re going to be entering adulthood in this uncertainty,” O’Connor said.
All five said they want to be able to cap off 13 years of education with a cap, gown and their moment to walk across the stage at graduation.
If it’s postponed, canceled or held virtually, it won’t be the same as sitting through a ceremony and walking across the stage.
“Everybody else has done it,” Wiese said. “It’s a milestone or a checkpoint. Not being able to do that would be really disappointing.”
That moment still might come. Until then, the students sit at home and wait for answers.
“All anybody wants is more time,” Anderson said. “And now it’s all anybody has, and they’re anxious.”