Senior year altered by COVID-19


By Erin Song, Photography 1

McKinley High School’s 300-plus seniors knew their final year would be one for the history books.

An Vo and Kelly Cheng

On March 15, the Hawaii Department of Education decided to close schools for a brief time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, physical classes and all in-person activities were canceled for the rest of the year. McKinley High School’s 300-plus seniors knew their final year would be one for the history books.

The first casualty of the pandemic was senior prom, which had been scheduled for April.

“Our prom was canceled and I was really upset about that because I went through such a hard time picking my dress and working with my schedule.” senior Angelina Soto said.

Seniors are hoping their prom can be held at a later date.

Seniors also worried about graduation, which could not be the way they thought it was going to be. Many graduation traditions would be difficult to impossible while maintaining social distance.

“Graduation is a big thing as an accomplishment of completing the 13 years of school successfully,” senior Jason Cao said. “Lei is given to the graduating seniors as a celebration and online graduation would not work. In MHS, seniors get to walk on the oval on graduation day.”

In addition to the disruption caused to their final year, seniors are worried for the future. It is unclear what schools will look like in the fall, so seniors looking forward to college are concerned.

“Everything seems so uncertain and it scares me,” senior Mancy Huynh said. “[The crisis] had affected my senior experience of course but it also might be affecting my freshman year of college if it continues to get worse.”

One aspect of life that remained the same for many seniors, though, was procrastination. Staying at home and learning remotely increased procrastination because everyone was in charge of their own education.

“I have stayed true to my procrastination habits even during this time,” senior Jennifer Pacis said. “I get motivated to do the work at the very last second.”

McKinley normally begins classes at 8:10 a.m. every weekday. Remote learning caused people to change their sleep schedules. Students attended classes online instead of physical school. Without the requirement to wake up early every day, students tended to stay up late and sleep in more.

“Waking up early is difficult now, so the classes that assign quizzes/tests before noon usually are turned in late,” senior Travis Salyphone said.

Students also said they missed the help and structure of meeting physically with their teachers.

“It’s much easier to procrastinate doing things when someone isn’t there and when I’m confused,” senior Rachel Awana said. “It’s harder to ask for help from my teachers or even classmates.”

Music classes were one course in which remote learning caused problems.

“For my orchestra class, because we are not playing together in person, it is hard to collaborate with people,” senior Victoria Nhieu said.

All spring athletics were canceled and any exercise students got was through their remote PE classes or what they did on their own.

“I am continuing to run to stay healthy,” senior Koby Shuman said. “Since my season is over and I don’t plan to run in college, my workouts have been less intense.”

When Governor David Ige issued the stay-at-home order in mid-March, seniors who had jobs were affected. Some lost their jobs because their place of employment closed or limited operations.

“I’ve been laid off unfortunately,” senior Jaycee Paat said. “I feel upset because now I’m not really making any money to support my family and my college.”

For those who kept working, the cost was high.

“I’m glad I still have a job and that I can provide for my parents,” senior Ahzuray Apa said. “But then again, it is a risk, and customers don’t seem so thankful that my job is still open for them.”

Seniors were able to see the bright side to the lockdown, though. Students could spend more time with their families, and learn to try new things to keep themselves from getting bored. Learning remotely allowed room for freedom and downtime in students’ schedules.

“Since I have a lot of time on my hands, I cook more and eat more healthy,” senior Mari Collins said. “I work out around the house because I have to stay in shape. I also started writing every day for my mental health and I also started drawing.”

Being away from physical school allowed senior Weishun He to have time to relax yet have a bit of structure.

“I’ve been allowed time to catch up on sleep and such,” He said. “It’s almost like a miniature summer break, albeit with assignments due every other day.”

The stay-at-home rule helped senior Kihara Jane Petrus prepare for her future.

“It’s like it put a pause on my life, but I like it because it gave me time to look at a lot of colleges,” she said.

Senior Gilbert Li agreed.

“The break has helped myself and other students recover from a lot of our stress and mental states. It benefits us by preparing us mentally, … for college and the next chapter of our lives,” Li said.

A letter from your principal

Congratulations on making it through your high school years! I am so proud of all of you! Although your last year did not end as it normally does, it does not take away from your great accomplishments!

I hope that we have provided you the skills and knowledge to take on whatever life has in store for you and that you will never give up on your dreams! I know that you will take along with you the “pride and tradition” that makes a McKinley Tiger great!

I wish all of you the best of luck and much happiness and success in whatever you do in our futures! You now join the other thousands of McKinley alumni in representing our school in the greater community!

Mahalo for allowing me to be a part of your journey and may the next part of your life journey be smooth and prosperous!

Changes in structure and information were made on 5/18/2020.