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"We had no idea it was going to be the last week we would ever see each other in person." | The Class of 2020 says farewell during a pandemic

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of the Lewisburg High School graduating seniors.

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss — When the senior class walked out of Lewisburg High School the Friday ahead of spring break, they didn't know at the time that they wouldn't be able to walk back in.

For the Class of 2020, senior year and high school as they formerly knew it is officially over as classes and school work continues online.

On April 14th, Governor Tate Reeves announced statewide schools would stay closed through the end of the school year due to COVID-19.

"It was really upsetting. We did not know whenever we left on that Friday, that it was going to be our last day of high school. It's really sad because we didn't get any closure I guess because we didn't know," Senior Morgan Lee said.

The abrupt closure has been the hardest coping point for many of the seniors.

"It's just sad to not get to see [my friends] every day. We didn't get to say our goodbyes the way we planned to," Senior Lindsay Plum said.

Without a typical school day, seniors are coming to the grips and realization that some of the milestone events.

"It's a little sad because of all the things I'm missing that were planned during school like prom and walking around the halls with a cap and gown," Senior Zander Look said.

Like many schools, one of the parting traditions for seniors is to walk their former primary schools in their cap and gowns. It was one of the milestones many seniors and parents brought up that they would particularly miss.

While the date for prom has already gone by, most seniors are optimistic that a graduation can still happen.

"I know that the people that are in charge are going to do the best they can and I'm trying to stay hopeful and fingers crossed that we can get those things if it's at all possible. Even if we have to push it back or something like that but the chance that we don't get that is definitely devastating. When you watch movies from high school and stuff like that, they talk about senior prom, they talk about graduation," Senior and Student Body President Anna Ruth Doddridge said.

It's hard for other seniors to cope with the possibility that a normal graduation ceremony may not be in the cards at all.

"That is a moment that we only worked towards for once in our life and for the possibility that it might not happen is very stressful," Senior Cyrah Ranzinger said.

"I worked so hard to be able to get there. I thought that I would be able to see it one day," Senior Caleb Waddell said.

For the students heading off to the military, a postponed graduation wouldn't be possible. Senior DJ Powell heads to basic training in June.

"I've always wondered what graduation feels like and now I'm never going to experience that I guess or more than likely so it's just kind of a weird place to be at," Powell said.

While students are dealing with the stresses of the what-ifs,their futures and school work; efforts to stay positive and celebrate the students are ongoing.

After seeing other schools do it, Doddridge created an Instagram account (@lewisburgco2020) that individually highlights each student with a photo, their future plans and a chance for them to say their goodbyes.

"My hopes for that is that every student gets the chance to have a spotlight, have a moment. You have schools that recognize their top students but I wanted every student to be able to do be recognized," she said.

While apart physically, the seniors have rallied together to show support and encouragement for each other.

"There's no way this is going to be the only obstacle that we face and I really hope that everyone takes this in stride, does what they want to do and move on even though its so difficult to right now,' Senior Robyn May.

No matter what the future holds for the Classes of 2020, they're all bonded forever.

"I think we're going to have a really good story to tell one day about how we graduated during a pandemic, we finished our senior year online," Senior Abbie Stewart said.

A spokesman with the district said when a decision is made about graduation, all schools will be notified. Individual schools in the district will make their own decisions regarding proms and senior activities.

Credit: Abbie Stewart
Abbie Stewart - National Honor Society Member After graduating: Going to Northwest Mississippi Community College

Abbie Stewart, National Honor Society Member
Post-graduation plans: Going to Northwest Mississippi Community College

"I was really upset for awhile. I've gone to Lewisburg for, this is my 13th year, but with everything that is going on it's really about the safety of our community. I just want everybody to be okay."

"The past 13 years have been absolutely amazing and all of the teachers have put in such hard work and they still are. Just because we're home, doesn't mean they're not working. They're working nonstop and the Zoom calls, we still feel like we're a class."

"I miss my friends a lot and my teachers. They just made it like this perfect environment and I just wanted to go every single day."

Credit: Ann Ruth Doddridge
Anna Ruth Doddridge, Student Body President Post-graduation plans: Going to Auburn University

Anna Ruth Doddridge, Student Body President
Post-graduation plans: Going to Auburn University

"That was the last time that we all got together in high school, it kind of hit that wow I really should have taken in this moment a little bit more."

"When you watch movies from high school and stuff like that, they talk about senior prom, they talk about graduation. Those are things that you remember for a lifetime so to be missing out on that, it's sad but it's just the reality of the situation." 

"I've been going to Lewisburg for the past 13 years. I've made friendships along the way that I know will last a lifetime. I've created bonds that are stronger than anything I've come into contact with so I know that this virus can't break those things."

 "I am absolutely heartbroken that I can't see my friends right now or my teachers and all these people that have had such a great impact on me but I know that even without seeing each other, we still have that feeling that we're all together in this."

Credit: Caleb Wardell

Caleb Wardell, Best Buddies

"I feel like because of my disease, I feel like I lost a chapter that I could have shown why I've lived so long. I've always didn't know if I would make it this long."

"I was looking forward to walking with the rest of the seniors and the little kids seeing us go through (the halls) and look good doing it."

"I'm not going to let coronavirus ruin my year because all after it's over, I'm throwing a party so ya'll are all invited!"

Credit: Cyrah Ranzinger
Cyrah Ranzinger

Cyrah Ranzinger, National Honor Society member
Post-graduation plans: Going to Northwest Mississippi Community College

"It is very, very heartbreaking because seniors throughout this whole year have been working very hard to basically get all the scholarships to basically do their best in school and for them to have it end abruptly like it is, it is very heartbreaking."

"[I'm] missing my friends. I miss hanging out with them. I miss seeing them and being able to go to school every day and being able to talk them and then I miss teachers, all the teachers that were able to influence me over the years, basically making me who I am today."

Credit: DJ Powell
DJ Powell

DJ Powell
Post-graduation plans: Leaves for basic training for the U.S. Army in June

"It's rough especially with me leaving because I guess I wanted to live up the last two months and it's kind of cut off for nowhere." 

"A lot of people are really wrecked about not getting to go back. It is rough because there are a lot of friends that I know I'm never going to see outside of school and now I don't get the chance to see them one more time. The last day of the school year is always that big goodbye."

"It just kind of shows that changes that life can have and nothing is promised anytime in this world so just cherish it with everything you've got."

Credit: Lindsay Plum
Lindsay Plum

Lindsay Plum
Post-graduation plans: Going to Northwest Mississippi Community College

"At first it was kind of fun knowing you were out of school but now it's sad to think about that we don't get to do half of the things that past seniors got to do. We don't get to go to prom. We don't get to graduate, do the senior walk." 

"[I miss] being able to see my friends every day. Now we can't see each other and it's just sad. I keep saying, it's just sad."

"I think this is all a part of God's plan. We all just need to put our trust in him.

Credit: Morgan Lee
Morgan Lee

Morgan Lee, Volleyball
Post-graduation plans: Going to Itawamba Community College to play volleyball

"A lot of friends are going to out-of-state schools so we're not going to get to see each other in physical school before they go off so that's probably the saddest part."

"I really miss seeing all of my teachers and friends at school. A lot of the times we would stop into the classrooms to say hey and talk about different stuff during Patriot Hour. I miss going to club meetings and meeting with all of my friends."       
"Looking forward to the future is really helping out for me a lot like looking forward to things in college, moving in, making my college schedule and orientation and all that even though it's a little bit different. I'm really excited for the future." 

Credit: Robyn May
Robyn May

Robyn May, Color Guard Captain
Post-college plans: Going to Mississippi State

"I've been with Lewisburg since the very beginning and it's been very difficult to see it go without closure. It's very much a family environment there. The teachers are my family and they shaped me to be who I am."

"We actually did a skit as if we had prom on Zoom and it was really fun to dress up and pretend like I was at prom and just spend time with my [journalism] team that I've worked hard every morning this semester to get out episodes and it was one of those moments where you realize how many memories you don't get when you don't get prom."

"I really want to encourage everyone but especially seniors to not stop doing what they love just because it's harder to do your passion doesn't mean you can't do it."

Credit: ZANDER

ZANDER Look, Lewisburg Band Member
Post-graduation plans: Going to University of Alabama-Huntsville

"The very last day of class before spring break, everybody was just antsy to get out of class. Teachers, students, everybody. We had been working really, really hard and we were just excited for finally a week we could relax. We had no idea it was going to be the last week we would ever see each other in person."

"I feel like my mom is having a much more difficult time with this than I am because I don't know what I'm missing. Does it really, really matter in the long run? I don't know."

"I was supposed to get some more freedom this year as I'm turning 18, as I graduate, but instead of getting to be able to go out and do things. I am not having to stay home. The irony."