High school graduations are a massive occasion in Salem. It is an annual celebration that seniors, their families and the community look forward to each year. In years past, high school commencement ceremonies have usually happened towards the end of spring.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended senior year for many soon-to-be high school graduates. Because of COVID-19, Salem seniors lost out on prom, school banquets and a senior trip among other things.
Nothing, not even coronavirus-forced school closures, is going to stop Libby Bowman from enjoying her final high school days. After graduation, Bowman plans on attending Radford University to play lacrosse and study nursing.
“There is definitely no way I will forget my senior year at Salem High. Although it did not end the way I expected, I will forever cherish the memories that I created,” she said. “I think I speak for all of my classmates when I say this year taught us one of life’s biggest lessons – not to take a single thing for granted and be appreciative of your blessings.”
Even though there is a low probability that Courtlandt Anderson will get to walk across a stage, the Salem senior is still looking forward to ending her high school career on a positive note. While she hasn’t made up her mind on which school to attend, Anderson says she definitely will be furthering her education in college come fall.
On March 12, students at Salem High were dismissed two hours early. That turned out to be the last day for in-person classes for the rest of the year. The final instructional day of the academic calendar is scheduled for June 12. Voicemails are being sent out to update students about graduation day details.
While her senior year was cut short, Ahlea Cobbs also says she has created memories with people that will last a lifetime. “I’ll always remember the crowed halls as well as so many familiar faces. It saddens me that things had to end this way, but I know this is a major setback for an upcoming comeback,” she said.
Shauna Wright, like all of her fellow classmates, was shocked to learn that her senior year was coming to a sudden halt. When asked how’s it been finishing the necessary schoolwork online, she responded, “Super stressful, but I’m pulling through.” Wright plans on attending cosmetology school and working full-time to pay off the inevitable student debt after high school.
Kacey Floyd, a Glenvar High senior, is encouraging people to listen to the health professionals and practice social distancing. If that happens, she said, we can collectively make a huge difference. “I am hoping that the community will come together to celebrate the Class of 2020, not just at my school, but all of the schools in the area,” she said.
In a tribute to the Class of 2020, the Salem Civic Center will be displaying the names of every anticipated Spartan graduate until April 26. In addition, the marquee will also scroll the names of the graduating seniors from all five Roanoke County high schools and Lord Botetourt. These schools normally hold their graduation ceremonies in the facility’s arena each spring. The names of Glenvar’s seniors will be displayed from May 25 through May 31.