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MINNEAPOLIS (Up News Info) – The class of 2020 is going through an experience unlike any other. COVID-19 has taken normal rituals like prom and graduation, forcing older people to say goodbye and move on in ways they could never have prepared for.
Up News Info spoke to six seniors at Hopkins High School in the modern classroom, Zoom, and along with psychotherapist Dr. Corey Yeager.
Yeager asked students if they have people in their lives that they can talk to and support each other during struggles. They all confirmed that they have those people, but most did not come close.
“By leaning on those people at a time like this, I feel like I’m a burden to them,” said Joe Ramlet.
Michael Mackey said it doesn’t feel natural to arrive, as he considers himself an introvert.
“I’m so used to putting things inside,” said Mackey. “I only deal with that just when time passes.”
Time seems to matter too.
“There are thousands of other problems that are bigger than we have,” said Mollie Tankenoff. “Bigger than not being able to go out and live our normal lives.”
Turns out, according to Yeager, missing things like prom and graduation triggers very real feelings.
He says the brain is doing its natural job of asking, “What’s going on here?”
And despite the many problems that come with a pandemic, the ones that affect you personally are, in fact, personal.
“They are great to me,” said Yeager. “That doesn’t diminish anyone else’s problems by saying that my problems are important to me and that they matter dramatically to me.”
Students also found ways in which their perspectives differ, despite similar circumstances. Rohee Konde plays soccer at Hopkins, will continue to play in college, and feels the quarantine has eased the pressure.
“Being around people your age, you want to try to act in a certain way to get someone’s approval,” said Konde. “But when you are alone you can see what you want.”
For Mallory Auth, being close to her peers is what she misses the most.
“I just want to be able to be with people without thinking that I’m putting them in danger,” he said.
Faith Agboola is caught somewhere in between.
“It was kind of a pull between my emotions,” said Agboola. “I really want to be sad, but there are also some people who would kill for this opportunity even to graduate from high school.”
And that’s enough to be disturbing, according to Yeager. It reminded students of something they are accelerating today that will be valuable for the rest of their lives.
“Lean on learning, even in situations that may seem negative,” Yeager said. “Always think that there is something to learn in that situation, even if it may seem negative.”
He also mentioned the cohort effect, which is who one becomes one based on shared experiences.
This senior class, in 10, 20 years, will be defined in part by the pandemic.
Yeager said it could manifest with more anxiety, which tends to amplify during isolation. He also believes they could have a narrower social network because they know what it’s like to lose it.