Seniors on CCHS Life and New Beginnings

By Rebecca Maynard

Members of the Clarke County High School (CCHS) class of 2020 never imagined they would finish their classes at home after school was canceled in mid-March because of COVID-19, but are making the best of a difficult time. On May 28 and 29, an in-person ceremony for the school’s approximately 170 seniors was held outdoors in Wilbur Feltner Stadium. Physical distancing guidelines were followed, and a time slot was reserved for graduates to be presented their diplomas and have their photographs taken. The individualized ceremony lasted about five minutes per graduate.No more than 10 people were allowed on the football field at a time, including staff and family members, and some of the school’s graduation traditions were included, such as photo opportunities with the Shepherd’s Crooks, which each graduating class traditionally walks underneath. A number of graduating seniors shared their thoughts on distance learning, future, and memories of their time at CCHS.

“It was awful adjusting, and coping with knowing you won’t have your senior prom with your friends or a real graduation,” said Clara Davidson, who plans to attend University of Sydney. “But it was all the little moments we lost, such as lunch in the senior court, spring sports senior night, seniors’ last day where you leave early and go around saying goodbye to everyone and signing yearbooks. Those were the hardest to lose.” “Learning from a distance was not hard, but it felt like a chore. I realized how much I enjoyed school once I was no longer going every day,” Davidson said. “Everyone always looked forward to homecoming week, and the best one by far was winning the spirit stick senior year,” she said. “Lunch in the senior court was a privilege you got during your final year, and that was so great. It was just the seniors, and we all got so close during those lunches, goofing around, making plans for the weekend, talking about our futures. I will always remember some of those days. They were ordinary, but that’s what made them so special.” 

“Distance learning honestly made classes easier,” said Hayden Hartsell, who plans to attend gunsmithing school and college for mechanical engineering. “We could complete the work at our own pace, and as long as it was turned in biweekly, everything was fine, which caused much less stress and rush.” Hartsell particularly enjoyed the agriculture program and FFA. “I learned so much there, and had a great time doing it.”

Colby Childs plans to attend Hood College in the fall to major in business and continue his baseball career. “Distance learning wasn’t too bad other than internet problems at our house at times,” Childs said. ”I absolutely missed being in school with friends and teachers, especially my senior year. Missing out on my senior year of baseball with guys that I’ve grown up with was very hard to take.“It has been a great four years overall,” he said. “Winning the Bull Run District title in baseball my sophomore year and the Bull Run title in football my senior year was awesome! Breaking the school’s career, single-season, and single game passing records was something that I will never forget. I would like to thank all my teachers and coaches for a great four years at Clarke! GO EAGLES!”

Faith Compton’s future goals involve traveling around the world as much as possible, and she says the pandemic has affected her interests greatly. “It was hard adjusting to online school and the stay at home order, but I understand it was for the best to keep everyone safe,” Compton said. ”My time at CCHS has brought me many good memories, especially being part of the Clarke County Winter guard teams.” 

Emmie Jo Aiello plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall to major in neuroscience.  “Hopefully I get to live on campus for the first semester, but due to the coronavirus, I don’t know if that is possible yet,” she said. “COVID-19 has definitely altered my path in taking steps to college. Choosing a college, filling out paperwork and learning about the process without the help from my college and guidance counselors has been difficult. I had to do all this while quarantined in my house! “Adjusting to the unusual circumstances was definitely a challenge,” Aiello said. “Hearing that I was not going to have a senior prom, a regular graduation or even finish the rest of my senior year was devastating. My heart aches for those who didn’t get to finish their spring sports season. Having our classes online was weird for sure. I live well out of town and my wifi out here is pathetic so completing assignments out here was not easy. However, the teachers and principals of Clarke made it a lot less stressful and they would work things out with me and my siblings to make sure we could get it all done!”

Riley Marasco plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall and study human biology. As of now, UVA is still planning on having students in the fall, but the pandemic has affected classes and things will be different, assuming nothing changes and students still get to go.“Transitioning to distance learning was definitely super new and different than what we have done before, but it wasn’t too bad,” Marasco said. “We had already used Google classroom a lot, so it was pretty easy to keep up with assignments and things. I think it just put some more responsibility on us as students to keep up with our work and check our emails and classroom to make sure we get everything done.“I have so many memories at CCHS,” Marasco said. “I am going to miss seeing my favorite teachers there every day and all of my friends. I am very thankful for all the high school has done for me to get me where I am today.”

Lauren Gibson plans to attend University of Georgia in August to major in Animal Science and minor in Agribusiness on the Pre-Veterinary Medicine track to obtain her DVM. She will also be enlisting in the US Army Reserves to serve time while in school until she gets her DVM and can enlist in active duty, as she aspires to become a US Army Veterinarian. “As of right now, UGA is saying there will be on campus fall classes; however, if that were to change due to the pandemic then I will be deferring a semester to LFCC until they resume on campus classes in order to save money,” Gibson said. “At first it [school closing] was exciting because I’m not one to enjoy being inside when it’s nice out and usually dread the last couple months of school anyways, but when I found out that I’d never be able to walk the halls of CCHS again and say a proper goodbye to my teachers, admin, and friends, it hit me hard,” Gibson said. “The saying that you never know what you got ‘til it’s gone is so true for the class of 2020 and it’s hard realizing we’ll never get a ‘normal’ ending to our childhood.”

“Memories are made of these little things like late nights at cheer competitions, football games, and basketball games, because we never played anyone close to us!” Gibson said. “Little things like baking bread for FFA, leading sermons with FCA, giving back to the small town Berryville community through Interact Club and NHS, and holding an officer position for SCA. Things like trying out track, or learning how to play steel drums. Making friends with the ladies in the kitchen who fed me everyday! Knowing what teachers you can go see no matter what happens, good or bad, like getting a good grade on a test or just wanting a snack or losing a friend to a car accident and needing someone to be there, just being able to go to those people no matter what for eight hours a day, five days a week for anything, that’s what means the most. “Watching all the people you’ve known forever grow up and accomplish amazing things and form big dreams, watching the spark in them ignite when they get to tell you all about it. All the events of homecoming week, powder puff volleyball and football, and prom, make up the little things. All these little memories will stick with me as well as the rest of my fellow graduates and friends for the rest of our lives. There’s a reason for everything and as John 13:7 says, “Jesus replied, ‘You may not understand now what I am doing but someday you will.’”