The Space Between Us: A Separated Senior Kick-off
The Official and Unofficial Sunrise Outlook
August 9, 2020
In the cold hours of twilight just before the sun meets the horizon, a small group of seniors gather at the Victorville V on August 7, at 5:20 AM preparing to watch the first rays of sun fight for dominance against the murky dark of night. As the seniors watched the sun touch the peak of the mountains that framed their town, it presented another sunny, clear-sky day to kick off the year–just like tradition.
Almost tradition. With COVID-19’s astonishing and unwavering presence in America, case numbers are only increasing in California. Just as the school year comes around for another cycle of students, many school districts are forced to learn alternatively online in order to socially distance and decrease the possibilities of students and staff testing positive. Attempting to work around what is now considered the “new normal,” school events are also now being handled with caution.
With a Zoom call broadcast nearby and cars parked away from each other, the class of 2021 seniors watched the sunrise in an almost independent way. Though the concept of watching the sunrise together remained the same, many students agreed that staying inside their car and not socializing was a rule that stuck out the most to them.
Senior Alyssa Cosico was one of the few seniors who had driven to the V early in the morning. With safety precautions enforced, Cosico still enjoyed herself at the event. “My car has a sun roof, so I’m happy I didn’t have to sit and really get in my mind that there are rules, if that makes any sense… I might’ve enjoyed this sunrise more since I wasn’t as focused on the symbolism of the sunrise. I also don’t see the sun often anymore, so I’ll take any chance I get.”
Senior Reshman Amin had also arrived at the Victorville V, enjoying the experience but also let down by the restrictions. “It was a cool experience seeing everyone, but I’m pretty sure like everyone else I wanted to get out of my car and chill. But you know, it’s for the best. I decided to come because I wanted to start off my senior year fun.”
The Zoom call held at 5:07 AM in the morning, allowed students who attended the event to virtually see one another. Because many people opted to mute their microphones and turn off their videos, Amin says that the Zoom call was only ‘okay’ since no one spoke in it. “They tried to make it [as] easy and safe as possible for everyone, so it wasn’t a bad idea.” According to Cosico, she states: “I don’t really know what to expect on the zoom call, to be honest. I’m kind of sad I didn’t speak up and make it more than just an obligation. It’s one of those things where it’s what you make of it.”
Even with the pandemic taking a toll on the class of 2021’s first senior event of the year, there is still something good that can come out of the darkest places. As Cosico concludes: “This is a senior event, and this is our last year. We have to go all out.”
While the sunrise represented the transition into the beginning of a new age, this wasn’t the first symbolic sunrise that some seniors experienced. An unofficial senior sunrise took place without teacher or administration’s knowledge or approval a week before on August 2, with far less restrictions. According to senior Jonathan Medina, the event had been planned by a small group of students who then asked some of the ASB members to make an announcement to spread the word.
Medina was able to go to the unofficial sunrise, but couldn’t make it to the official one. “I slept through this Senior Sunrise. My alarm couldn’t wake me up… I was looking forward to it because I knew people who didn’t make it to the first one would have gone to this one.”
He admits that at the unofficial event, not everyone was taking precautions as seriously as staff and teachers did a week later. “I don’t think everyone was being safe and it’s disappointing. Masks were asked to be on, but obviously there were kids who didn’t. I still felt the ‘pandemic’ feeling, but I had my mask and I interacted with only my close friends I’ve been seeing.”
Senior Kaytlin Reyes also attended the unofficial Senior Sunrise, but was unaware that it was unofficial. “I just saw Jonny [Jonathan Medina] and Jesus [Jesus Martinez] post it. At first I thought they kept it a secret so only UP seniors would go, but I heard as I was driving that the official one was on Friday.”
Reiterating what Medina mentioned, Reyes continued, saying, “It was pretty fun, but kind of sad that our entire class wasn’t there. I got to see a few of my friends I haven’t seen in a while. Some people took off their mask and didn’t put them on which I thought was pretty irresponsible,” she stated in annoyance, “How are we going to keep doing senior activities if people can’t follow the rules? The teachers and staff are going to think we can’t handle senior events.”
Senior ASB member Denisse Selena Arana also provided input about the unofficial event. Going to both events, she claims that the unofficial one was better since more people showed up. She doesn’t know who planned the event, and only heard about it through friends.
“I think people were aware [that the event was unofficial]. It was never posted, and ASB kids were the last to find out about it. When we were asked questions, we kept saying that ours was on Friday, which caused us a lot of confusion.”
Senior ASB member Jesus Martinez mirrors Arana’s explanation as well, adding to the mystery of who started the event in the first place. “I know it was a group of friends, but no one I was relatively close with. I don’t know who started the idea, but word spread fast. Mainly because ASB seniors were reached out to since we have a way of contacting the majority of the class.”
Martinez continues to say, “A few of us made private stories for our seniors and asked them to meet up. We were iffy about spreading the information because of the official one that we were going to have, but we didn’t want to be the buzzkill for everyone else.” He adds on: “Since it was unofficial, we kind of thought it really wasn’t up to us to decide, so we just went through with what was being said.”
With the school year just beginning, there’s much in store for the class of 2021. As Arana puts it, “As of now, the only future events planned are fundraising that won’t be held in school, so things like restaurants and virtual fundraising. We do plan on still organizing prom and grad nite, and hope that by that time the events [occur, we] won’t have to be as restricted as Senior Sunrise was.”