Author’s note: Even hours after the announcement was made, I was unable to fall sleep. So with a hot cup of tea by my side, I started to write not knowing where the words would take me. The final product was a letter addressed to Dr. Scott Brabrand, Superintendent of FCPS.
Good evening Dr. Brabrand,
I’m sure students often write to you with grievances expecting solutions. I merely ask for a few moments of your time. Because, I write to you today with a heavy heart, knowing that there are no solutions to the problems I put forth tonight. At least, none that are in your control. I understand that Governor Northam’s decision to close schools through the end of the school year was not one he made lightly. Whether or not he knew the exact impacts it would have on students, I do not know, but he had clearly weighed his options. The decision was made.
I was live-tweeting Governor Northam’s address when I heard him say it. I’m putting this in writing now so that I can refer back to it in the future when I tell others what I was doing when all the schools closed. As soon as I heard, I tweeted the following:
"Devastated" is perhaps the best way to describe how I feel right now. I had my last day at a school I've attended for four years, and I didn't even know it.
No goodbyes. No time for reflection.
— Sid R. (@SidRamOfficial) March 23, 2020
It truly was a gut punch. That is the best way I can describe it. You see, on Thursday, March 12, I had every intention of returning to school the next day. Late that night, I found that we would have a four-day weekend and return on the following Tuesday. By mid-Friday we learned that we would be closed through Spring Break. A month out of school is a long time. But I knew that my friends and teachers would be waiting for me at the end of the month. Then, today, the decision was made that would propel me from being a high school senior to a rising college freshman with neither pomp nor circumstance.
Once the initial shock of not returning to school again wore off, my peers and I were hit with another wave of panic. I was inundated with messages asking me about what would happen regarding prom and graduation. Two shining lights at the end of a tunnel, eight semesters in length. Two events that define the culmination of a high school senior’s career. I didn’t know what to say. As a member of both class council and the prom planning committee, it was strange not knowing the fate of an event my colleagues and I have spent months planning. Strange and crushing. The prom planning committee had long floated the idea of perhaps moving the event to some time over the summer, but nothing came of those discussions. We have decided to meet tomorrow to discuss what our next steps will be.
I keep thinking that there were so many things that I didn’t get to do. So many things that I didn’t get to say. So many people I didn’t get to hug. I don’t feel a sense of closure. I know that’s a strange thing to say. Because I left all of my work with the intention to return. Because I left all of my friends with the intention of seeing them the next day. It feels so unnatural to think that I won’t be returning. I never got the cathartic experience of walking out of the building, staring at the dome, and making peace with the fact that TJ wouldn’t be my home anymore. Every few moments a new thought will pop into my head. “I guess I won’t have another class council meeting again.” or “I guess Ms. Russell will never get to shadow me.” It almost doesn’t feel real. I was supposed to have two more months to prepare for my last day of school.
The word “unfair” gets thrown around a lot. “Oh that test was so unfair!” or “He got the bigger piece of the pizza! How unfair!” but I would argue that this would be an appropriate time to shout it into the heavens. “THIS IS SO UNFAIR!” My reaction even now is to want to hold someone responsible. Someone I can point at and say, “That person there! They are the reason I am missing these senior moments!” But, of course, no one did this to spite the class of 2020.
This is around when the school year starts to wind down. When students start counting the weeks, then the days, left in the school year. The days get warmer and the workload gets lighter and the students get happier and the summer gets closer. I’ll miss that. So will my peers. The last week and a half have felt like I’ve frozen while time marches on. It feels so unnatural to be in my sweatpants during what should be second period. So unnatural to not walk down the halls and greet my friends at every turn. It feels like a bad dream.
Despite the shock and numbness that I continue to feel (it still hasn’t fully sunk in), I would like to thank you and FCPS for keeping us constantly updated. I see all the tweets asking for more. Asking why a program hasn’t yet been implemented. Asking why decisions aren’t being made more rapidly. I also see how hard FCPS is working to provide meals to students who need them. To provide equitable access to distance learning. I have so much respect for FCPS, which has been my home since kindergarten at Union Mill Elementary School. While I have been pushed out of the nest before my wings have fully developed, I think I’ll make it. I think my peers will too. There have been tears, and there are bound to be many more, but we will get through this.
I hope you and yours are doing well in this time of great uncertainty. Stay safe and best of luck to you, Dr. Brabrand. Thank you for taking the time to read through this long, rambling collection of my random thoughts. I truly appreciate it.