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Senior year ends without pomp and circumstance for many families

Thousands of students in Virginia are missing many milestones

ROANOKE, Va. – The end of senior year looks a lot different for thousands of students in Virginia who are missing many milestones.

The Giles High School soccer season ended in heartbreak last year, losing in the semi finals.

“We were looking like a decent team this year. We were all really excited to get back out there and play and see what we could do,” said Trey Jones, a Giles High School senior who was hoping this would be their year. “We only got to play the first two scrimmages and that was our season. We got to practice a little bit as a team at least. Just two scrimmages and it was all taken away so quick.”

But now, they’ve been out of school for six weeks and the season cancelled.

“Now it’s all over. There’s no chance of them getting a redo on this and that’s a sad situation. A lot of people don’t understand, they think there’s bigger issues. Yeah, there’s bigger issues out there but to a senior this is life-changing for them,” said Natasha Merrix, who says she understands why her son can’t participate but still wants milestones like graduation recognized. “It doesn’t have to be much, just something so that all the seniors can get together with their class and as parents can watch our children walk across the stage to get their diploma. It’s devastating. This is something I’ve always looked forward to ever since he was born. Being able to watch my son experience his senior year. Their senior year is one of the most exciting years of their school."

Other mothers agree.

“She’s my pride and joy. She just turned 18 in October and she has worked really hard to graduate and to get to this point,” said Kristy Martin, whose daughter goes to Bassett High School and was also looking forward to the end of the year especially the softball season. “Her senior night was supposed to have been the best. She’s never been the best at softball but she has really turned in something really good the last two years. She was going to shine this year. I just hate it.”

“I don’t like the way it all ended but I understand they had to do that,” said Autumn Martin, a Bassett high school senior who still wants to walk across the stage wearing her cap and gown.

“It’s the one last thing we need for closure for her senior year. For it to be canceled, it’s going to be pretty rough. Hopefully it will be postponed and we can go from there,” said Kristy Martin.

The families understand why and say they know it’s a necessary step but they just want a chance for their kids to be recognized.

A Henry County schools spokesperson says high schools will have their traditional graduation ceremonies once gathering restrictions are lifted.

“Additionally, we don’t want our previously scheduled graduation dates to go without recognition, so we are creating videos to share publicly honoring our graduates on their previously scheduled graduation dates (May 22 and 23),” said Monica Hatchett, with Henry County Public Schools.

Giles County says they’re waiting until after June 10 to decide about graduation but they will do something even if they can’t meet in person.


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