Commentary: A Senior Reflects on School Cancellation

Commentary%3A++A+Senior+Reflects+on+School+Cancellation

Autumn Hendrickson ('20)

On Tuesday, April 21, Governor Baker made the call that many of us knew would be coming, even if we had hoped it wouldn’t: all Massachusetts schools will be closed through the end of the year. I had actually been reading to my moms when the news broke, and when I came to put my book back in its place and check my phone, that’s when I saw it…the five texts from friends and a Remind text from a teacher were waiting for me. In that moment, as the reality of what had occurred hit me, my whole image of what my senior year of high school was going to be fell apart.

Teachers and students alike have been sharing their feelings on the matter across various platforms: many RMHS seniors reported their feelings with shock and disbelief, many Reading teachers voiced emotions of sadness and disappointment over not being able to truly finish out their year with their kids, and Instagram lit up with compilations of high school pictures from different students. Ever since Tuesday, I have been doing my best to explain to my friends that it’s okay to mourn the loss of those little things that come along with going to school everyday. After all, half the school experience is the physical act of going to the building every day.

when I graduate this spring, I hope to embody the grace and courage you have all shown during this time. ”

When I was thinking about all of this myself, I couldn’t help but feel pain for all the kids below me as well. There is some courage and grace in letting this happen without protest, even though we know that this is all occurring because of health reasons. We could still be mad, if we wanted to. We could write letters full of discontent to our governor, but we know there is something larger at stake. To all the students in the Reading Public Schools, but especially those at Reading Memorial High School, when I graduate this spring, I hope to embody the grace and courage you have all shown during this time. 

As a very sentimental person, I have always been acutely aware of the emotional value of walking down a hallway for the last time, or making the trip to a certain classroom for the last time at the end of a school year, or simply going through a normal day’s routine. Right now, my heart breaks for all the fifth graders who will be heading to middle school without having ever set foot in their respective school before their first day next fall. My heart breaks for all the eighth graders who won’t get to say the same type of goodbye that I got to. I remember how I ended up needing about three hugs from the same teachers before I could bring myself to leave the building. I cannot imagine how much more painful leaving my middle school would have been for me without that. My heart breaks for all the high schoolers whose plans have been foiled by something so far out of their control.

Just remember that this, too, shall pass; and when it finally does, though you may not be able to recreate some of the times that you will have missed, you will get to make memories just as important and valuable as the ones you lost. Continue to look out for each other, make sure to spend time with your family, and enjoy this time as best as you can. When all is said and done, we will have one heck of a story to tell, and with luck, we will be able to tell it proudly, remembering the kindness and generosity shown to us by those within our community.