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First line of defense

High school seniors disappointed about end of school year; but ready to move on

Over a decade of anticipation has ended in disappointment for the class of 2020, but they are not defeated. Many seniors feel cheated out of the end of their year, but they refuse to neglect their future.

On March 30, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced the closure of public schools across the state until summer break. This comes after the CDC and the White House urged Americans to continue social distancing until April 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s so heartbreaking and upsetting that I’m finishing my senior year by sitting in my room,” Willcox High School student Jeremy Nieto, 18, said.

As a sophomore, Nieto discovered his passion for engineering during the annual International Space Settlement Design Competition. He said the program helped him to “break through socially and find myself professionally.”

Nieto traveled to the Kennedy Space Center twice for the international level of the competition, where he discovered a passion for leadership. His team would have made it to the center again this year, but the event was cancelled.

Nieto is upset he won’t return to Cape Canaveral, but he’s focusing on applying to the U of A, where he will pursue a degree in engineering.

One of Nieto’s tennis teammates, Jonathan Garcia, is also shaken up. Garcia, 18, of Willcox High School says that he feels blindsided.

“When someone takes something from you it’s tangible. This is just stolen time,” he said. He feels that “the bond is so much stronger” between members of the senior class since they have grown together since kindergarten, which makes leaving early “bittersweet.”

Garcia plans to attend Northern Arizona University in August, where he will pursue a masters in either personal or athletic training. He encourages everyone to support “the one class that didn’t get (the senior experience)”.

Alma Barajas, 17, of Willcox High School is also concerned about senior events, especially graduation.

“I’m hoping they will postpone our graduation and give the class of 2020 the opportunity to celebrate the way that we deserve after all of our years of hard work,” she said.

She has a message for her fellow seniors: “I know that we will all get past this. Have hope that we’ll get to walk the stage and get to make one last memory all together.”

Barajas plans to attend Western New Mexico University and has not decided on a major.

Senior Isaac Camerana, 18, of Safford High School, also has a message for the class of 2020.

“Good job this year. I wish we could graduate, but good luck with everything.”

Camerana plans to continue his family’s legacy in law enforcement after his mission for the Church of Latter-Day Saints and Jesus Christ.

Thirteen years ago, Pima High School senior Morgan Miller, 18, performed in a kindergarten talent show with all of her classmates. The group ended the performance by proudly telling their parents that they were the class of 2020. The significance of her graduation year has stuck with Miller every since.

All of this school year, Miller anticipated performing in the biggest play of her life: EAC’s presentation of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Miller missed senior activities to hone her role as Sally Brown, but the show was cancelled.

While Miller is disappointed, she is more excited about the future. The senior plans to attend EAC, where she will major in theater. To her fellow seniors, she says, “Don’t lose hope, there has to be something better for us.”