Members of the Hayes High School class of 2020 said the school shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic created a sense of loss in what otherwise would have been a spring packed with memorable events.
When the shutdown and accompanying remote learning began in March, Luke Gazarek was surprised.
“I didn’t think that anything like that was ever going to happen,” he said. “I also thought for sure that we would all be back after spring break. I kept saying, ‘It’s crazy to think that I might’ve just went to my last day of high school,’ but I didn’t actually think that was going to be true.”
“As a senior, hearing that I would not be going back to school really upset me,” said Madalyn Hatton.
“In fact, I almost felt guilty because I would complain about having ‘senioritis,’ ” she said. “I was looking forward to moving on to the next chapter of my life. But when this all happened, and everything got canceled, I wanted to take back everything I had complained about.
“2020 was supposed to be the year for me and the rest of my classmates. Now I feel like I have been cheated out of the memories I will never get to make,” she said.
“When schools went to remote learning, I was pretty disappointed, but I can’t say that I was surprised,” said Dominic Hupp. “As soon as it was made known to me that school was moved online in March, I knew that I had to accept the rest of my senior year for what it was and try my hardest to make the most of it.”
The students had mixed reactions about the remote, mostly online learning that ended their public education.
“For having everything happen so suddenly, I am grateful for how fast my teachers worked to put together online school plans, even if it wasn’t perfect,” Hatton said.
“Overall, I did not feel like remote learning was very effective for me. I don’t feel like I retained any new information. I just did the work to get the grade so that I could be done. I am so used to learning in a classroom setting, so this was not helpful to me.”
“I felt like it was OK,” Gazarek said. “For my (Advanced Placement) classes, it was effective and went well, because it wasn’t much different than how we would normally review for those tests. For the other classes, it just felt sort of weird to have to be doing work still. I felt like everyone was way less motivated to do it and that we didn’t really gain anything from it.
“I personally went through and got everything done as soon as possible so that way my summer break would start sooner,” he said.
Hupp said he thought remote learning went well.
“Seeing as I only had two classes, I had less to deal with than other students. With that said, I was still studying for two AP exams, and both of my teachers did an exceptional job at getting information and practice materials to students, while also creating short videos to help boost student morale,” Hupp said.
Missing daily interaction with friends and traditional senior events was a particular blow, the graduates said.
“I miss seeing and interacting with all of my peers and teachers. FaceTime, Zoom, GoogleHangouts and Canvas Conferences are just not the same,” Hatton said. “I missed hanging out with my friends in the morning before first period, I missed greeting my teachers before every lesson and I really missed lunch with my friends.
“I missed socializing,” Hatton said.
“I have been a part of Hayes theater for the past four years,” she said. “Receiving the news that I would not finish out the one school activity I love most broke my heart.
“We had one week left before our show, ‘Chicago,’ opened to the public. It was probably one of the most difficult musicals I have ever done at Hayes due to the amount of dancing this show required. Everyone worked so hard, and for the show to cancel felt like all of our hard work was for nothing,” Hatton said.
“I have had my moments where I grieve over the things I missed out on. ... I try to look on the bright side of things by reminiscing on the activities I actually did get to do,” she said.
Gazarek said he missed his friends, and though they found ways to interact, it wasn’t the same.
“I also missed being social with people and getting to be around a lot of people that I’m not usually with outside of school,” he said.
“The only extracurricular I missed was my youth group, which we have been doing over Zoom. Luckily for me, I’m a golfer and golf is a fall sport in Ohio. I’ve tried to keep busy and not think about it. Luckily, golf courses have been open so I have been able to practice and play and that has kept me busy.
“At this point,” he said, “I’m really just looking forward to college in the fall.”
Hupp said he missed seeing his friends and teachers on a regular basis.
“However, even though I missed having in-person conversations, this switch to remote learning has allowed me to reach out to friends that I hadn’t talked with recently and get back in touch,” he said.
He also missed out on a trip to Washington, D.C., plus House Games Day and the spring musical, on which he served as lighting designer.
“We had plenty of surprises planned, and it’s unfortunate that we never got to open,” Hupp said.
“Missing out on all of these events has been rather disappointing, but I’ve been finding other ways to stay involved,” he added. “Since school has been canceled, I’ve competed in two different hackathons (in which programmers work together to develop software quickly) and I’m currently designing a previsualization for a virtual theater-lighting contest.
“On top of all of this, I’m continuing to train as a distance runner and recently went on an 18-mile run to celebrate my 18th birthday.”
Hatton plans to attend Bowling Green State University to major in theater with a specialization in acting and directing.
“If it wasn’t for the wonderful teachers that are a part of the Hayes theater program, I don’t think I would have realized my true passion for theater – so thank you,” she said.
Hupp plans to receive a bachelor’s degree in either electrical or computer engineering and hasn’t yet selected a college.
Gazarek said he’ll play golf and study accounting and finance at the University of Findlay.