Quarantine Prom and lessons learned

Opinion: Columns

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Margaret Korinek

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Prom is one of America's most beloved high school traditions, ongoing since the late 19th century. OPRF High School's was supposed to be on May 16. Being the sensitive person I am, I knew I would be upset if I didn't do anything to celebrate. So I had a handful of friends dress up and hosted an impromptu "Quarantine Prom" in my front yard (while abiding by social-distancing rules). We were able to take photos in front of my senior lawn sign, which the OPRF faculty was so kind to give to this year's graduates. The experience brought back many great high school memories, which I shared with the people who attended.

Don't get me wrong, OPRF wasn't perfect. There were times when I felt more like a number than a valued student. I had terrible anxiety, and it wasn't until my senior year that I actually started to enjoy school. 

At the beginning of quarantine, I found myself constantly negotiating with the virus. When we were told we were not coming back to school after spring break, I thought that I would at least have a month to be with friends and teachers before the year ended. I desperately wanted just one more school day to properly say goodbye. When we were told the rest of the school year and graduation were canceled, I thought I would at least start college on time. However, even that might not be a possibility anymore. That's the problem with coronavirus, it doesn't make compromises. You get to a point where it's difficult to look forward to anything. 

The most devastating part about all of this is that I had to leave an environment I was finally starting to feel comfortable in. We all did. Not only have we been robbed of the best part of high school, but we have also been forced into this new, weird form of adulthood. The administration notified us a few weeks ago that our graduation had been moved to an online ceremony in June instead of the original in-person one that was planned for August. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I know this whole situation is out of our control and the administration is doing everything they can. However, four years of hard work just to hear our names read off over a computer has left us feeling a little heartbroken. 

Still, we're learning to make the best of every situation. Even though we all forgot how to socialize due to lack of human interaction, "Quarantine Prom" really did raise my spirits, and it was nice for my friends and I to be reunited. In the first piece I wrote for Wednesday Journal, I mentioned that seniors would find ways to celebrate even if not in a traditional way. We are doing just that. As much as I would have liked to perform one last show with my teammates, or danced with my friends at an actual prom, I'm still finding ways to be grateful for quarantine because it has taught me lessons that I don't think I would acquire anywhere else. My biggest takeaway from quarantine is the importance of optimism. 

For the longest time, I've always just assumed that optimism was a sign of ignorance. I saw it as a way to avoid the difficult parts of the world without dealing with the consequences. However, I've learned that optimism isn't a rash choice, but a way of living. It's not about ignoring the challenges in front of you; it's about choosing to remain positive in spite of them. 

I now realize that if there is anyone who will make it out of this pandemic alive, it's the optimists. 

Quite literally, because science has proven that optimism strengthens the immune system.

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