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From a Student’s Mind: Graduating High School in a Pandemic

March 26, 2020

By Geoffrey Magrill
Student Intern to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Grade 12 Student at McMath Secondary School

The fast pace of the COVID-19 virus has shocked and stunned the world but for grads, it has shattered spirits. The memories that we could’ve made are the least of our worries. Even though most teenagers aren’t extremely worried about the COVID-19 virus affecting our health, we are still taking precautions. Unlike the toilet paper hoarders from your local supermarkets, we are washing our hands before and after we touch surfaces we know others have come in contact with. Instead of shaking hands or fist bumps we are using our elbows to greet friends. Most of our lunch discussions now revolve around the virus and how many people it has affected and how many people have recovered. We were shocked when the number of people diagnosed with the virus started to rise drastically, because at the beginning we didn’t take the virus seriously and thought it would either stay in China or they would find a vaccine before it got out of hand. Being the “funny” teenagers we are, we decided to start to make memes about the virus because we didn’t think it would be a worldwide pandemic.

For me and my fellow grads we don’t really know how to react to all of the closures and cancellations of events. Most of us had big plans for spring break, including me. The school districts cancelled trips to Europe because of the spread of COVID-19. The feelings came in waves – first of disbelief, then anger, and eventually we were just shocked and heartbroken that our plans had ended in a matter of minutes. With our trips cancelled and major league sports cancelling their seasons we turned to movie theatres and spending time outdoors to entertain ourselves.

Then, all of those venues were closed as well. So, I started going outside and spending as much time with my friends and girlfriend as possible, in case we all got put on lockdown. I would go with my friends onto the dyke by our houses and take pictures as something to entertain ourselves. We soon realized that many people had the same idea and to distance ourselves from the crowds we tried to find different areas that had not been discovered by the crowds of families trying to enjoy the sun and nice weather while they still could.

During school we had all been stressed out about our tests and projects that were coming up and just wanted a little bit of time to relax at home. Our first few days were great and relaxing but they soon started to turn boring and bland. We turned to watching news about the virus to entertain ourselves and gain new knowledge. When they closed the borders, we were relieved that our trips got cancelled and so were our parents.

We thought that it couldn’t get worse in Canada and then the provincial governments started closing schools indefinitely. When we saw Alberta schools had been closed for the year we felt bad for the grads but also thought that it could never happen to us, until one morning we woke up to hear the news that schools in BC had been shut down indefinitely and it wasn’t funny anymore. We didn’t know what was going to happen or if we still had to do our school work. At first we joked around, congratulating each other on graduating, but we then realized that we might not have our boat cruise or our grad or valedictory ceremony anymore. We were all very confused at what we would do next.

Some of my friends and I thought about getting another job. We soon realized that most jobs were closing or laying off workers, not hiring so that plan went down the drain. Since the spread of COVID-19 has drastically increased over the past months, the grads of 2020 are shocked that our final year of high school has been postponed indefinitely. We are simply waiting to hear any good news about the progress that scientists and doctors have made with the virus. Our hearts go out to the families affected by the virus all over the world and we hope that it will end soon so we can go back to our lives that have been put on pause.


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