Marches Never Made: The Lost Traditions for the Class of 2020


Lucy-Grey Shields

Sad Seniors: Sterling Fleury, Ansley Baker, and Barrett Dougher are disappointed by the many cancellations of senior events

With a high school student body dispersed and with the numbing sameness of a growing number of successive days in self quarantine, North Atlanta’s senior class is dealing with what they are missing out on. The school’s largest senior class ever can’t forget about what they are missing out on during what was slated to be a last — and best — semester in their high school careers. 

Stuck in the purgatory of shelter-at-home existences, it’s hard for North Atlanta seniors to not recount the long-list of things that will not shape up to be: with the cancellation of the April 18 prom, seniors never got their movie-like glammed up evening with friends. Beyond that, the cancellation of school in the North building means no long-anticipated last walks through school hallways, last goodbyes to cherished teachers. The recent reality of a proposed “virtual graduation” in May, means no highly emotional last cap-and-gown gathering of the Class of 2020 at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.  

While the strict regulations on gatherings of any kind have been hard for all students, some members of the Class of 2020 have handled the unprecedented turn of events with more grace than expected. Seniors have made the most of their time at home, whether through impromptu backyard prom-inspired photoshoot or taking advantage of online class Google Meets as an opportunity to see friends. They also understand that online classes — while not ideal — are not as difficult as they could be. “One thing that I didn’t expect to be one of the easier parts of the quarantine was online classes. It’s definitely one of the more positive parts of a negative situation,” said senior Barrett Dougher. 

Seniors surveyed had a wide variety of answers when asked about the rite-of-passage event they will miss the most. Responses ranged from senior breakfast to Decision Day and prom. But the biggest response was the one likely most expected — missing out on a final goodbye to close friends and beloved teachers. “I feel like we missed some of the biggest parts of high school with the school cancelation,” said senior Ansley Baker, “No one could have expected it to end like this. I just wish I had the chance to say a real goodbye to my friends.”

Like all other North students, seniors have had to adjust to life and schoolwork at home. Along with the regime of online classes and a numbing succession of trackless days has come the general feeling of missing regular days in the North Atlanta building, a place that has been their educational home since fall 2016. But one upside, they say, has been spending time with family members who otherwise might not be seen as much. Senior Sterling Fleury said he realizes that the long blocks of time with his parents are normally not the norm. And they certainly won’t be the norm when he heads off to college in the fall at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., where he will play football. “With my busy school and social schedule I barely see them,” Fleury said. “Trust me, these days, we’re all getting maximum time together.” 

There’s a true sense of loss for the Class of 2020. Their experience likely will heighten the appreciation all North students will have for things for things once taken for granted. Crowded elevator rides, bustling stairwells, a noisy cafeteria — all these things will become normal again for students in the fall. But for graduating seniors, at home for their final semester, these things are now cherished memories that came to an abrupt end all too soon.