Texas High School Seniors Lose Chance to Finish the Year
By Marco Ramirez
Photography By Marco Ramirez
McALLEN, TX – For high school seniors, the spring semester is supposed to be filled with memorable moments that last a lifetime. But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has officially ended any chance of that happening for them here in Texas.
Last week, Texas Governor Gregg Abbot announced his plans to slowly ease some of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions by opening up some non-essential businesses as well as allowing elective surgeries in hospitals.
But Governor Abbot will keep one major restriction to help slow the coronavirus outbreak in Texas by keeping all public and private schools closed for the remainder of the academic school year.
“I was surprised,” McAllen High School senior Diego Rodriguez said. “I never thought this would happen.”
Rodriguez hoped to have one last stand on stage with his school’s theatre troupe before he went off to college. But when he left for spring break, his plans were put on hold as all classes shifted to an online format until further notice.
But even though he was restricted to going to school from home, Rodriguez had hope that he would return to school in person this year.
“It became very real because they were pushing it back, Rodriguez said. “Like oh, we go back to school in two weeks, and then two weeks later, we go back to school, and they kept pushing back the deadline so they were giving us some hope really.”
But when Governor Abbot officially closed all classrooms across the state of Texas, that hope ran out.
“I felt that there was a rug taken out from under me,” Rodriguez said. “We had that hope of trying to go back to school, but when the announcement came out, it was like … oh the year is a loss for us. That was kind of disappointing.”
Now Rodriguez is not sure when he and his theatre mates can perform together again with social distancing guidelines still taking place.
“We’re actors on stage performing in front of hundreds of people,” Rodriguez said. “Who knows if we will ever have that again?”
School athletics have also taken a major impact from this pandemic. Arron Nixon lost his chance to play his senior season for the McAllen High baseball team.
Before the coronavirus impacted his daily life, Nixon was looking forward to playing his final season of baseball before moving on and playing at the college level.
“That was going to be an awesome season to have,” Nixon said. “And spending time with my friends since I’ve known since kindergarten.”
Even though Nixon will not get to make the last home run on the field with his friends, he said that he believes cancelling the rest of the school year was the safest option for everyone.
“It’s definitely a bummer. I really wish I could finish my senior year,” Nixon said. “But I just wouldn’t want anyone to get sick and die because we are wanting to go to school and wanting to spend time with our friends. I mean that’s kind of selfish.”
In the meantime, Nixon plans to do his part by staying home with his family and looking forward to the next chapter of his life.
“I’m just trying to think positive right now and control what I can control,” Nixon said.
There is still hope for Nixon and Rodriguez to graduate with their friends. McAllen ISD has not cancelled their in-person graduation ceremonies. The district has created tentative graduation schedules all the way to August. They will continue to monitor the outbreak to determine when they can celebrate in the summer.
As for Rodriguez, he hopes the restrictions we all are living under will stop the spread of the COVID-19 by the fall, so he can experience his first year of college in person.
“I hope I get to go to college, Rodriguez said. “You know high school got taken away from me, but I don’t want college to get taken away from me either.”