Trojans On COVID-19

Students Voice The Impact of Shutdowns The Pandemic Has Made

Psalm Babiera, Social Media Manager

As of Wednesday, March 18, the Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas has at least 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Last night, Tuesday, March 17, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced the mandatory shut down of all schools to be closed for the rest of the school year, KSNT reports. In addition, Governor Kelly will decide before August if school will be held in the next school year, and school boards are being asked to examine graduation requirements.

COVID-19, or the Corona Virus, has made its impact worldwide as well as across the nation. This story is focused on the impact the virus has made on our Trojan students.

“I stayed in school for twelve years to walk across the stage and graduate with the class of 2020.” Wiltaven Lee, senior, said. “I’ve properly kept up with my grades, I’ve done summer school and have taken extra classes just so I can get to where I need to go. Some of my classes were college courses and it would have been better for me to take them in my high school years for extra help. It’s really hurtful because I did try, I did cry, and I did stress to wear my cap and gown, to get that piece of paper inside of a glass frame. And as an athlete it was very difficult to understand that my season ended before it started, and I was looking forward to doing my last year of track with the people I’ve been doing it with for the past four years of my life. I want to know what they’re going to do for the class of 2020–everywhere. Are we still going to get our diplomas? Will we be considered graduates? Will we be able to graduate? We did all of this hard work for something, not for nothing.”

“I had to buy $40 music for solo and ensemble for the annual regional music festival,” Aja Bonjour, junior, said. “Just for it to be completely cancelled with no rescheduling. Although I’m one of many hard working musicians who had been looking forward to this, I am an advocate for staying at home to prevent spreading. I think it will be nice to have the extended break for students because things can get tough. Bonjour explains that the Trojan band’s trip to Memphis, Tennessee had been cancelled as well, each student having paid $600 to go and no news on whether or not it will be rescheduled.

“Since the virus had started becoming a problem for the school system, they cancelled the rest of the state basketball tournament (which I was doing pep band for) and ruined the dream of our girls winning the championship,” said sophomore, Walter Evans. He shares similar sentiments to Bonjour in terms of the cancelled band trip. “Because of school being delayed for two weeks, I have lots of time to practice my musical instruments, which is nice,” said Evans. However, because of the coronavirus, I don’t have any ensembles to play with right now, and I can’t see any of my fellow band or choir members. With school being delayed, we’re going to have to catch up later in the school year and make things more stressful than they already are.”

Beyond the classroom, students share their experience and impact in the workplace as many people across the nation have begun “panic buying,” purchasing lots of food, water, cleaning supplies and more in preparation of social distancing and self quarantine.

“I work at the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka,” said senior Arisa Ortiz. “We have completely shut our doors for the time being and are working out when we would be opening our doors, as an employee I can speak for most of the other staff in saying that it was very upsetting. Not only will we not be able to get in hours to afford our everyday needs, but we cannot see the children we see all the time, and we’ll miss them. As of now, my workplace has yet to give any benefits.”
Junior and Walmart employee Jonathan Gadberry shares his experience. “Everybody went to Walmart and bought as much as they possibly can, and they’re freaking out.” Gadberry said. “As a cart pusher I’m constantly exposed to people and what they touch, and I’m getting sick.” Gadberry describes that Walmart is deliberating only having one entrance and exit in order to help prevent widespread contact. “People are getting sick trying to stay healthy,” Gadberry said. “All of these people are coming into one place, shopping frantically and they’re getting sick from the items that other people touch.”

“It hurts a lot,” Ortiz said. “There are lots of seniors sharing their feelings online, angry, crying, feeling a loss of hope. It was supposed to be our year… no more high school memories like manhunt, prom, and we’re most likely being mailed our diplomas. I know these cancellations are to simply be cautious and protect the people in our community, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t upset me in any way. To my fellow seniors– it is okay to be upset and it’s not selfish of us to feel like our final year of high school students has been taken from us. We’re all in this together and though we’re all stressed, we can get through this.”

There have been no updates regarding how graduation requirements will be met. Any updates will be posted.