Seniors Across the South Shore Deal with Change

An interview with four students about the closing of school

Whether we want to admit it or not, our world has changed drastically [due to the coronavirus]. Not just for the adults, but for students as well.

When it comes to getting schoolwork done, schools across the country have resorted to changing their method of learning into online learning. Whether it is through a video chat on an app called ‘Zoom’ or in Abington’s case, through Canvas and Microsoft Teams.

Students on the South Shore in the class of 2020 have gone through missing a month or more of their senior year at school, and the majority are not happy about that.

Seniors Allison Clark and Daisy Littlefield of Abington High, senior Lindsey Rinella of Weymouth High School, and senior Maria Pantiukhin of South Shore Vocational Technical High expressed their feelings about this topic and how they are living through it.

Lindsey Rinella, personal photo
Weymouth High School senior Lindsey Rinella at poses for her senior picture at War Memorial Park in East Bridgewater on August 2, 2019.

For senior Lindsey Rinella who attends Weymouth High School, she has found some normalcy within all this change through being productive, “It’s been becoming normal for me by creating a routine for every day in order to stay productive,” she said.

She also has been being attentive to the news more than she ever has before and has been considering the state of what the world has become and how we got here. But there are also some things that she misses about her school as well, “The only thing I really miss is seeing my friends every day and missing out on all of the senior activities like prom, and graduation.”

For many students at home, it can be hard to stay busy without finding it boring. But Rinella has been able to manage it. She said, “I like to start my schoolwork and finish as soon as possible. Even though Rinella is missing out on senior activities, she has also been able to see the positive of what is going on. “I can see that many people like myself are taking better care of themselves and their bodies,” Rinella said. “And recently, I’ve liked working out to keep myself occupied,” she added.

Marai Pantiukhin, personal photo
Senior Marai Pantiukhin, who attends South Shore Vocational Technical High School, poses at Borderland State Park in Easton, Massachusetts on October 22, 2019. Like other South Shore seniors, Pantiukhin had no idea her senior year would be changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For South Shore Vocational Technical High School, students there have been changing their way of learning by using Zoom to get in touch with their teachers and Google Hangout to turn in assignments for a grade. But for senior Maria Pantiukhin and every other senior at SSVT, they are missing a major key component to their lives: the trade shop they have been participating in for the past three years.

Pantiukhin has been taking part in her trade of Cosmetology since her freshman year. But that is gone. “Doing hair with everyone in my shop is definitely something I miss,” she said.  And for her, missing out on school and friends during both academic and shop weeks has become the new normal “because this has been going on for so long.”

Even though it has been going on for some time now, Pantiukhin is able to invest herself in some other activities that she has an interest in. She said, “I’ve gained an interest in working out and eating better.” She added, “My goal is to create a better lifestyle for me.”

There are many bad things that the class of 2020 could possibly come up with for being in this lockdown, but it’s better to look at the bad and add some of the good in as well. “I definitely think it’s [school shutdown] the safest way to prevent getting COVID-19. It’s just frustrating because of how long it’s been going on for, ” Pantiukhin said about the lockdown being prolonged for the right reasons.

Daisy Littlefield, personal photo
Senior Daisy Littlefield enjoys a ride at the Marshfield Fair on August 19, 2019. Littlefield is the president of the Class of 2020 at Abington High School. She, like other Abington students, did not know that her senior year in school would end on March 12, 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Abington senior class president Daisy Littlefield has also been able to see this change as the new normal in her life. “I wake up, sit at home, and go to work wearing a mask and gloves,” Littlefield said to describe how she has been going about her newly adopted routine. As class president, she is the head and voice for the class of 2020. So, for Littlefield it can be understandable to miss interacting with peers and to have that connection. “I miss interacting with people the most, that was my favorite part of school,” she said.

Littlefield went on to talk about how she has been trying to keep herself busy while also practicing social distancing, “I’m going on walks, painting, and doing schoolwork to stay busy.”

Littlefield knows and respects why we are all enforcing this lockdown, but she also feels as if it is wrong at the same time, “Stopping the spread is the only positive thing I see about lockdown,” she stated. “Being deprived of human interaction and being able to go anywhere freely can take heavy tolls on people,” she went on to add. It can be difficult to acclimate to new situations, but it is key to realize that it is for the greater good of everyone’s future.

Allison Clark, another Abington senior, said that in the beginning she had a difficult time feeling as if this lockdown procedure was even close to normal. Clark said, “After a month has gone by, it feels too normal that this is how life is going to end up [being] for however many years this continues and it’s scary.” She added that none of this was ever expected to be normal, “As we face the realization of it every day, it used to never be normal for a state of emergency to be declared, and it still isn’t from my perspective as a 17 almost 18 year old.”

Allison Clark, personal photo
Senior Allison Clark of Abington High School poses for her senior portrait at Rexhame Beach in Marshfield, Massachusetts on August 1, 2019, unaware that her senior year attending school would be interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clark this year won the superlative of “Biggest Case of Senioritis,” but she said, “I miss school more than anything. As much as I dreaded waking up in the morning, I got to see my friends and peers every day and all my teachers who shaped me into a better person day by day”.

Clark has accepted the emotional toll it takes on all seniors as well, having to miss out on events that were looked forward to during the school year, “Anyone can agree that all you look forward to is senior year, graduation, [and] senior trip. To have that deprived from you and not knowing if you’ll get [to participate in] that milestone is heartbreaking. But there’s nothing we can do about it, unfortunately, except put the world on pause and soak in all those memories,” she said.

For Clark, staying busy during this lockdown has been a challenge due to her places of employment closing. But for her, being locked in it is a way to get more bonded with her family, “from making puzzles to rearranging the whole house and you name it,” she said.

In our day to day lives, we don’t take the time to realize how much we are doing in such a short span of time. Clark wants people to know that even though everything is held on pause for the moment, everything will return back to normal soon enough, as long as you don’t lose yourself. She said, “Work will resume, school will resume. But what won’t resume is your feelings if you keep pushing them off.”

For many students, living without going to school has been a change for them that they did not ask for. But, they acclimated to the circumstances. It has opened everyone’s eyes on how impactful keeping a routine can become.