Executive Council Talks Class of 2020 and Coronavirus


The coronavirus is affecting everyone at BC differently, but for one class in particular, the class of 2020, the timing is especially unfortunate. Senior year (particularly second semester) is usually a time when, after finishing the college admissions process, students can take a deep breath and enjoy the last few months of high school. With important events like graduation and prom (which are now cancelled), this time would traditionally be when seniors form some of their most important memories of high school. 

The Blotter asked Executive Council President Luca B. (‘20) and members Brianna J. (‘20) and Sierra M. (‘20) to share how they are processing these events. Luca had “been looking forward to this moment of being a second semester senior, and having a time when we can connect more with teachers and friends and have fun, but also just relax a little bit.” Brianna also misses the social aspects of school: “Socially it’s been really difficult because that’s the biggest aspect I miss about BC, the community has always been really strong and supportive for me. It’s been hard to not have that every day. For me, I came in 7th grade and looking back, I still have all my class pictures. Our grade was like a family, and not having that bond is very difficult right now. Apart from the people who are in my classes I haven’t seen probably 60% of our grade, it’s difficult not being able to see people.”

By now, teachers and students are familiar with the difficulties of remote learning and how it really can’t compare to learning in the classroom. In Luca’s experience, Zoom seems to be working in some scenarios better than others: “I think it works much better in certain classes like math and science which are more lecture-based and less discussion oriented. But in general, it flattens everything, discussions have to go through this digital wall which compresses all the emotion, takes away all the fun and nuance of a great discussion.” Luca noted that English classes have been difficult in particular, where stilted discussions and extended moments of silence prevent deeper understanding and connection. Sierra also agrees that “There’s something about physically being in each other’s presence that creates an energy and a dynamic that fuels conversation and growth in the classroom that just hasn’t been the same over zoom.”

Brianna agrees that Zoom isn’t ideal, but she makes an important point to put things into perspective: “I’m grateful that we haven’t had the issues that public schools have, because a lot of my kids that I work with aren’t having any face-to-face instruction at all with their teachers, so I do appreciate being able to see my teachers at least because that does add to my feeling of still being in school.” New York City’s public schools, by and large, have much less access to technology for its students. Adapting to online learning has proven extremely difficult, and has exposed many inequalities of home learning (114,000 students in the NYC public school system are homeless, for example). 

The coronavirus has also rattled the college admissions process. For juniors, standardized tests are cancelled, and many summer opportunities are in jeopardy. And for seniors, this all comes at a time when many have had to decide between several colleges—traditionally with the help of admitted students days, and additional campus tours, all of which have been cancelled. While many colleges have extended their commitment deadlines, weighing one’s choices amidst this pandemic has proven difficult. Sierra has experienced these difficulties first hand: “I’m trying to choose a college right now, and one that I haven’t visited at all I like a lot on paper, but I was relying on the fact that if I got in I would be able to take a tour. It’s stressful knowing that I’ll have to choose a big part of my future without visiting the college.”

One of the biggest worries among seniors and their families is the lack of a proper graduation, which was meant to take place on May 28th at a new venue, the NAB Theater at City Tech. A virtual graduation has been planned, with an in-person event to occur whenever it is possible in the future. It is obviously disappointing for seniors who have been looking forward to this ceremony for a while. For Luca, “it’s definitely a disappointing way to end senior year. I think our grade has come such a long way, and it really would have been nice to have some closure, and have a moment where we’re all together. We’ve had this intense mutual experience for four years and now it’s weird to have to move on to something new.” He especially looks forward to the time, however far away that may be, when the seniors can have a proper in-person event: “I want a meaningful, mutually shared experience because I think that’s what you lose with Zoom. Everyone is having these parallel experiences in school but no one is experiencing it at the same time or in the same place, so for me what’s important is for us to all end in one place and doing one thing, having a feeling of we are here together.” Brianna also shared the importance of closure in her mind: “Closure is the biggest thing for me. I’m very grateful that they’re trying to plan something in the future, because having nothing would be so heartbreaking for me, I wouldn’t be able to start college or feel like this chapter of my life is closed without some kind of closure or experience with everyone.”

The executive council in particular has felt a responsibility to continue organizing school events and maintaining school spirit, even if they personally don’t feel cheery. One thing the executive council organized was a virtual Spirit Week, featuring themed days like pajama day and backwards day. The executive council found it difficult at times to remain motivated and engaged with the community, but was glad to try and help boost spirits. According to Brianna, “it was hard for me to try and think of things to do because sometimes I don’t want to do anything anymore because everything I cared about is gone. It was really difficult to help plan things but it was really necessary because there are people who really need the little pick-me-up in the week, and hopefully we could make people happier about their situation at home.” 

This quarantine period has allowed for lots of self-reflection, and for seniors that often means reflecting on the end of high school as a whole. Luca hopes that this experience won’t influence too much of his memory of high school: “I really think and I hope that ending with quarantine is just going to mean that I have three and a half years of high school memories, rather than having that half of a year of bizarre times take up a disproportionate amount of my memory and my feeling about high school. I really do want to remember all the great times I had with people in the atrium. I really just hope that I don’t lose that feeling of how great of a time this has been, and much we’ve all grown as individuals.”

Brianna has used this time to reflect on how she will stay engaged with BC down the road: “When I look at my future and what I want to remember from this experience, it’s definitely being grateful that I had such a great experience, and also thinking about the ways that it’s not really over just because I’m going to graduate in a few weeks. I still want to come back to the community to see what’s going on. I have friends in younger grades and being able to keep up with them is important. Not forgetting where I came from is going to be an important thing for me in my future because Berkeley Carroll is a place I will never forget.”

Brianna hopes to keep the BC spirit alive wherever she goes: “In High School Musical they say ‘Once a wildcat, always a wildcat.’ For me, it’s once a lion, always a lion.”