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Eyes up, heart open

Carla Ten Eyck

COVID-19 is this the end for the class of 2020

High school prom photos in Hartford CT

COVID-19 and the Class of 2020. How is this all going to go down?

This March of 2020, our kids are all unexpectedly home from school in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The virus has wreaked havoc the world over, shutting down literally…everything.

At this point, due to concerns about flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the coronavirus it’s uncertain when or if they will be returning to school for the remainder of the 2020 school year. While many kids may let out a collective fist pump of joy at being out of school- at first- I can’t help but feel super sad for today’s senior class.

My son Jackson is a high school senior in Hartford CT. He is at a school he’s been going to since he was in 6th grade, surrounded by his goofy and lovable gaggle of friends. I adore his friends and their friendships so much, and have had many of them to our house for sleepovers over the years. From snow days to birthday parties these boys have become an extension of our family. Their impending high school graduation becomes to me, not just about watching my son Jackson walk across that stage to accept his hard earned diploma, and on to the next big phase of his life; it becomes about us watching this close knit class ALL walk across that stage as a collective whole. I have been watching these boys and girls  grow and evolve into the wonderful and quirky young adults they are today and I was truly looking forward to their graduation.

Last night was probably the first time I had a moment to mourn this year for my son and his fellow seniors. Can’t we adults all remember the joys we experienced from our senior year? Senior skip day where we got to go to the beach or a park together and have a scrabbly picnic and listen to music and dance and have fun; the school plays all of the kids have worked so hard on including my daughter, Georgie. The prom! My favorite time where I can lend my skills as a photographer and take some pretty photos of all of the kids all gussied up with their friends in fun locations all over Hartford. Sports, competitions, trips. Graduation. All of it was so much fun!

As a Mom I am mourning this all on a different level. I have been dreaming of this moment for my first born child, my Jackson, since he was a little kid. Maybe it’s because I felt so shafted during my high school graduation, with parents going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage and caught up in their own human experience. When my older siblings graduated my Mom would make this beautiful banner from this giant roll of brown Kraft paper she kept in the kitchen. She would outline big colorful letters spelling out something to the effect of ‘Congratulations Tere Class of 1988!’ She would hang it proudly on the front of the house, outside of the windows on the second floor, for our whole street to see. Maaaaaan I couldn’t WAIT for my time to have my own banner, flapping happily in the wind with MY NAME on it! Having 8 siblings made me super excited to have anything that was my own, and this was IT. 

Sadly, that year my Mom was in the spirals of depression, and I never got my banner. As an adult now who is also divorced myself, I truly understand where my Mom was. I wasn’t angry, I was sad, and in my own way was looking for that day where I would show my kids what having that banner for their graduation would feel like. 

These photos were from Jackson’s sophomore + junior year. During his sophomore year they had a fun group going and I volunteered to ‘chaperone’ while also setting up a portrait booth in the corner, for fun. I am so glad I did. I got to capture some really great portraits here for the kids. I had so much fun having my daughter Georgie assist me, watching the kids let loose and have so much fun on the dance floor.

But now, what do they do? We don’t know what’s in store for these seniors. Sadly they are not alone. Will they be having a virtual prom this year? Or no prom? What about graduation? In the grand scheme of life I do know this is a small sacrifice given what the world is up against, I truly do. No matter what I will think outside of the box for my son and make something fun happen, he deserves that.

Maybe these seniors will come out even better, smarter and wiser as they start their next year as a college freshman, or in the workforce. This current time of crisis where they are mad about not being able to hang with their friends or go to the mall as if it was a snow day won’t feel so big. Maybe they will leave this experience with a deeper understanding of who their family is, and how the world works. (or doesn’t work, at times) Maybe this helps them to suss out exactly what they see as essential to life, and it affects the direction they move toward for their future.

In the end I hope this passes soon and we all have our self isolation stories to share while the world mends.

 

Class of 2020 high school prom Hartford CT amid coronavirus pandemic
Class of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic

 

 

Related articles:

How COVID-19 Will Affect The 2020 College Admissions Cycle, Forbes

To see more sessions by Carla Ten Eyck click the links below:

Snow Day Session with my kids in Elizabeth Park Hartford CT

Two Moms Celebrate with a Snowy Maternity Session in Manchester CT

Wedding Inspiration at Smith Farm Gardens in East Haddam CT

Winter Wedding at the Branford House, Groton CT

2 Comments

  • Michele

    Gorgeous kids and garments. These photos are masterpieces of art and should be in Vogue. Just love ❤️ it all.

    Reply

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