Seniors speak out on COVID-19’s impact

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Two Waipahu High School Newswriting seniors share stories of COVID-19’s impact on their peers.

Photography and Sports Editor Audrey Villanueva shares the impact on performing arts students and students hoping to travel.

With just one more quarter left in the school year, many Hawaii students were looking forward to starting their spring break plans. School trips and events were right around the corner, and prom and graduation was only two months away.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many seniors missing out on final moments during their final year of high school.

Kevin Molina, a Waipahu High School (WHS) senior, was going to direct his first play called “The Forgotten Princess.” He was also one of six students chosen to visit WHS’s sister school, Fukuyama Iyo High School in Hiroshima, Japan during the summer.

But due the rapid spread of COVID-19, Molina and his cast are not able to meet up in person due to stay-at-home orders, and his opportunity to travel to Japan has been cancelled.

“Due to the coronavirus stopping the production, it’s been really hard to keep up with the cast. There is no way to control that because I can’t meet with the cast and we are more than 10 people,” Molina said.

Abigail Sales, a WHS senior who has been a member of the WHS choir since her freshman year, was expecting to perform her last four concerts in the remaining months of the school year.

“Having this virus taking something so important to me, just ripped out of my hands, it really hurts.” Sales said. Sales was also looking forward to the graduation ceremony, where she would be graduating with honors.

After graduation, fellow WHS senior Jen Horiuchi was planning to visit the colleges that she was interested in attending, but she is now planning to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa instead.

“I have been considering the mainland colleges, but not as much as before,” Horiuchi said.

Many seniors understand that postponing these events will ensure their health and safety. As the class of 2020 was looking forward to all of these events, the cancellations and postponements taught some students to take opportunities when they are given since they may not be guaranteed. “We had our last day without even knowing about it,” Molina said.

Fellow Cane Tassel senior Arianna Amato shares the pandemic’s impact on summer programs and college plans.

Senior year is filled with lessons, opportunities, and memories of laughter and living in the moment, but for the graduating class of 2020 it will be a different story.  Due to the serious circumstances of COVID-19, this group of hopeful students has to to adapt to a situation that none have experienced before.  With wishful thinking, numerous Waipahu High School (WHS) students share how their lives have changed by the current pandemic.

WHS senior Patricia Taganon was looking forward to participating in a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, but now may never have the chance.

“In June, I was planning on continuing to work to earn some cash to help with a few expenses for college.  Then in July, participate in a program called the College Opportunities Program at UH Manoa. It was supposed to be an on campus experience where I would dorm and take classes at the UH Manoa campus, but it’s mostly likely going to be online classes now,” Taganon said.

Some seniors are now considering attending local colleges and living with their parents, which they did not initially plan to do after graduating high school.

“Originally, I wanted to get off island and go to a four-year university on the mainland, but due to financial reasons and the current situation happening, I will be going to Leeward Community College,” said WHS senior Kayla Carabbacan.

Seniors are taking this opportunity to build new plans that will benefit them in the best way possible and provide them with options.

The pandemic has evoked a range of emotions in the class of 2020.

WHS senior Zachary Rivera said, “Right now I am a little disappointed. A lot of things have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. All I can do now is pray everyone is okay and the virus is dealt with soon. I intend to make the most with the time I have left as a high school senior. I hope after this epidemic everyone is able to go back to their normal life, and I am able to start college and work.”

COVID-19 has affected the lives of seniors in Hawaii and across the world. While it may not have been the picture-perfect senior year that they were looking forward to, it allowed for students to begin thinking of new ideas to best deal with their changed circumstances.

For another Waipahu High School senior’s take, read Kawika Pegram’s “COVID-19 Crisis Disrupts College Plans, Learning and Much More for High School Seniors,” published by Hawaii Business Magazine.