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Dear Corona Letters from the Center Hill High School Class of 2020 compiled by Sarah Claire Miller for The Pony Express

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. | Photo by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS via the Public Health Image Library at CDC.

Laila Armstrong

Dear Corona,

You took away something that I will never get back, my senior year. I have been playing softball for Center Hill since I was in the eighth grade and when I finally get to my senior year, I have barely played half of my senior season. Senior year is full of a list of “lasts”. Last first day of school, last football game, last pep rally, last home game, last time walking in the halls, senior banquet, etc. and I never got to experience some of those because of you! Now I won’t be able to see my brother in the hallway, stand at break with my friends, or crack jokes at the lunch table one last time.

I also won’t be able to go to the locker room with my teammates and talk about how exhausted we are after a hard day of practice. I made most of my high school memories with my team and I am very thankful of that. April 16, 2020 was supposed to be my senior night, but instead I am in the house trying to not come in contact with you. I have been looking forward to my senior night since I first started playing at school. Little did I know that March 5, 2020 would be my senior night. On that day, I played my last softball game for Center Hill against Olive Branch. Fortunately, that was one of the best games I have played during high school. I went five for five at the plate with four RBI’s and I also made a diving catch. My teammates and I were all in it together and we ended up run ruling Olive Branch. My heart goes out to the unsigned seniors who were looking towards their senior year hoping to find a scholarship.

April 16, 2020 was supposed to be my senior night, but instead I am in the house trying to not come in contact with you.

Corona, you also took away my senior prom. Prom is the highlight of every year, next to graduation. Luckily, I went to prom my junior year and had an amazing time. If I would have known that you would take all of those away from me, I would have savored the moment knowing that I won’t be coming back. Senior year is something every high schooler looks forward to. To the upcoming seniors, I hope that you never take some of these things for granted because you may never get it back. Corona, I can’t wait for you to go away so that everything can go back to the way it was!

Sincerely, a broken-hearted senior,

Laila Armstrong

Laila Armstrong poses with her letterman jacket, softball and glove for her senior portrait. | Photo used with permission of Holland Studio.

When is graduation?

Center Hill High School's graduation ceremony, originally scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 23 at the Landers Center, is now up in the air because of the coronavirus.

EVERY EFFORT IS BEING MADE TO ENSURE THAT OUR SENIORS ARE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE A GRADUATION CEREMONY."

In an April 20 email to parents, DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Cory Uselton said, "Every effort is being made to ensure that our seniors are able to experience a graduation ceremony."

District officials are monitoring local, state and federal guidelines on a daily basis before making a final decision. Uselton said senior parents will be contacted via email and phone call on or before May 8 regarding the status of the current graduation schedule.

Sarah Hennan

Sarah Hennan holds a yard sign that her mom made for the senior's upcoming graduation. | Photo by Sarah Claire Miller.

Max Lankford

Dear Corona,

I have some words to say. My name is Max Lankford, a senior at Center Hill High School. I was excited to graduate and finish out senior year normally. I wanted, no, deserved the “senior experience” that every class before me got to have. But now, my senior experience has been whittled down to isolation from the rest of society. You took my senior year, crumpled it, stomped on it, and then ran it over just for good measure. Starting with the obvious, you took my graduation. I don’t know when we will have a ceremony, if we have one at all. High school graduation is a right of passage into the rest of adult life, and now it’s just up in the air. You took my prom. Even though I wasn’t planning on attending, my heart aches for the people in my class who were excited to go to their last prom-their senior prom. Now, it isn’t happening at all. You took my winterguard championships away altogether. Winterguard has a special place in my heart, and I loved it to the moon and back again. I miss my team. I miss the show. I miss performing. I miss the laughs. I could go on for hours. Just know that you took my favorite activity away from me. We had just won first place at a competition, too. We were on track to win a state title. Look where we are now.

Most of all, I miss my friends. I miss my teachers and administrators. I miss going down the hallways and talking with my friends about that “really hard test” or that “hilarious thing that happened at practice.” I miss seeing my friends smile when I say something funny. I miss being able to hug someone when they feel down. I miss the stress of school, and I feel like I took it for granted while I had it. Now that you’ve taken it from me, I realize that even though I was stressed, those were the good times. I miss being able to talk to my teachers on a daily basis. I miss making jokes with my teachers and administrators. I miss talking to Ms. Celeste (part of our amazing janitorial staff) every day. I miss school. As a senior, you’d think that I would say the opposite, but no, I wish I could go back.

I miss being able to hug someone when they feel down. I miss the stress of school, and I feel like I took it for granted while I had it.

I shouldn’t have to fear for my safety when I go to the store. I shouldn’t have to wear a face mask and use hand sanitizer after I touch literally anything. But thanks to you, all this and more has become a harsh reality. But, do you want to know the one thing I have above you? I have love. I have hope. I have a strong will. I will always have the advantage there. You may have taken all social life from me, but you will never take away my spirit.

Sincerely, Max Lankford

Zakhia Taylor

Dear Corona,

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. You have ruined so may things for so many people. You’ve had such a huge impact on so many lives.

Senior year is a special moment filled with memories that’ll last you a lifetime. We won’t get to experience anything! Senior field day…GONE…Senior awards night…GONE and Senior prom…GONE!

The highlight of our high school career drifted away from us. Not only have you affected high school students but you’ve greatly affected college students. Special moments have been ripped away from people all over the world. You’ve affected graduations, sporting events and the economy.

I know they say everything happens for a reason but this is something I wished never happened. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve had a SMALL positive impact on my life. I have gotten closer with my nephew and I’ve been working out a lot in my spare time. Even though most of what you caused has had a negative impact, I have to point out the positives. The negatives will only weigh you down. No matter how difficult this situation has become, positivity has to be a key essential in your temporary new life.

My joy came from school and making memories with my friends that I’ve known for 13 years… but you ripped that away from me. I hope you’re happy.

Millions of people have been affected by this. You’ve taken loved ones away and you’ve forced people to change the way they think about everything. Sometimes I think about the time when you’re gone and I can start living my best life. Corona, you ruined so many plans! I had trips planned that I can’t even go on because you wanted to come and ruin everything.

You have turned my house into Fort Knox. If I leave the house for .2 seconds, I have to take all my clothes off at the door, I get sprayed with Lysol and I have to wipe my shoes down with Clorox wipes. Did I mention that I can’t get my nails done! My Chick-fil-A runs turned into once a week. I’m used to making a Chick-fil-A run almost 5 days out of the week… I AM NOT OKAY!

Corona, do you remember that scene out of “Mean Girls” when Gretchen Wieners had to stand up and read what she wrote about Caesar? THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL TOWARDS YOU! My life has become filled with nothing. My joy came from school and making memories with my friends that I’ve known for 13 years… but you ripped that away from me. I hope you’re happy.

Sincerely,

Zakhia Taylor

Class of 2020

Dylan Ciarloni

Dear Corona Virus,

My senior year at Center Hill high School was ripped from me. As I left for Spring Break I was thinking I have a week of fun and no school. But NO, you took that from us, not only seniors but from everyone. You have caused isolation over several countries and have left the population to crumble. Now, the Class of 2020 has a huge question for you. Why?

You took so many special events away from us, my last season to step out onto the field and play baseball with all of the guys I have grown up with, walking through the elementary school and high fiving all the kids just to see their little smiles on their faces. You’ve also taken a big part of the end of our senior year, PROM, and possibly our chance to walk across the stage and graduate after 13 long years that we worked so hard to earn.

You made everything close down that involves social interaction and quarantine is making everyone go crazy. You had to do it this year and ruin everything.

The Class of 2020 were born in the wake of 9-11 and our senior year ends with you.

I hope and pray someone real soon finds a cure for you so we can all get back outside and enjoy the rest of our lives.

Us seniors are very upset that we don’t get to walk down the halls anymore with our friends and cut up laughing one last time. We won’t even get to see our favorite teachers and say goodbye.

Some things you have done that are not half bad is bringing families together by making us stay quarantined in the house. We’ve played card games to cure boredom, played video games with siblings and online with our best friends is only bringing us closer as a family and that’s the only good thing that came out of this. We’ve dreamt about going on our senior trips like cruises but no, you canceled it. We can’t even go into dine in restaurants right now because of you. You really ruined everything for us seniors. I hope and pray someone real soon finds a cure for you so we can all get back outside and enjoy the rest of our lives.

Dylan Ciarloni

Class of 2020

Dylan Ciarloni poses in his graduation gown before having his senior portrait taken by Holland Studio. | Photo used with permission of Dylan Ciarloni.

Kennedi Evans

Dear Corona,

You have taken a part of my life away from me that I have been looking forward to since I was young, my senior year. Everyone during their senior year of high school creates memories that follow them into adulthood. All year I have been waiting until the last nine weeks where all the senior activities were planned to take place, and it seems that you have also been waiting until the last nine weeks to take it all away from me.

My senior year is ruined because of you. You have taken my last moments with my friends away from me. The last nine weeks of school was my last chance to get to bond with my friends before we go off in a million different directions. It also was the time where I would have gotten to experience for myself the senior activities that I have watched classes before mine get to experience. I now will never get to experience a senior breakfast, graduation practice, or my own senior field day. Although I have filled in many graduation practices before, I have always wanted to experience the craziness of it for myself. The rushing to make sure you are on time, lining up and practicing walking in, speaking at graduation as a class officer, so I can honestly say that it hurts that you might be taking graduation away as well.

I miss the sound of slamming lockers and getting to see my friends and teachers in the hallways. I miss being at pep rallies and feeling like I was going to get smothered when the seniors got the spirit stick.

It is obvious that I am missing my senior year, but I am also missing the little things that have been a part of my daily routine for four years now. I never thought I would say it, but I would do just about anything to walk down A hall during a class change right about now. I miss the sound of slamming lockers and getting to see my friends and teachers in the hallways. I miss being at pep rallies and feeling like I was going to get smothered when the seniors got the spirit stick.

If I would have known what I know now I would have really taken in my last moments (before school was closed) and I would have taken more time to spend with my classmates. Now that I have the chance to look back at it. I would have stopped stressing so much. I was always stressed about school work, due dates, and college preparation. I would skip out on bonding activities to try to calm my stress over school, but Corona, if I only knew what I know now I would have stopped and taken a moment to just enjoy it all. Upcoming seniors, I hope and pray for a better outcome for you and your senior year, and my advice to you is to not take it for granted because you never know when it will all end.

Corona, you are causing a lot of chaos right now. Everyone is scared and on edge, but I’m not. I have faith that God has a plan in store and that there will be an end for you. I don't know quite when that might happen, but when it does we will all come out stronger than before.

Kennedi Evans

Paige Brick

Paige Brick poses with cap and gown in her senior portrait. | Photo used with permission of Holland Studio.

Dear Corona,

I can’t say I’m happy you came around. You started pretty small and I wasn’t afraid of you at first. I thought that you would pass quickly, and then you would be on your way. Turns out I was very, very wrong.

You came, and you made your mark. Tons of people are sick and the numbers are only growing. You are so much closer to home than I expected you to be. You’ve made me scared to even go to the store. Such a simple task has turned into almost life and death. You’ve made people panic to the point of over-buying, leaving those less fortunate without.

You’ve taken away so much from me already in the short amount of time you’ve been here. You’ve taken the choir trip to New York City that I had been looking forward to all year. You’ve taken away three competitions that everyone worked so hard for. It seems that everything that might have brought me joy in these troubled times, you’ve taken away from me. You’ve even taken away the last nine weeks of my senior year. You’ve made the world a very sad place.

I worry every day for my family members who are at higher risk of catching you. Some of them have underlying conditions that make them an easy target for you. I worry for my friends that I am no longer able to see without being at least six feet apart, and even then that might not even be good enough. I worry about ordering items online because I don’t know where they are coming from or who has handled them. I worry my plans that I have later down the line will vanish before my eyes. You have taken so many away already and I just want something to look forward to. I worry about my mental health as I am consumed by the four walls that surround me and as I listen to the news every night about how it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I worry how much worse it could get.

You haven’t taken away my hope, my prayers, my dreams. My hopes that we will at some point take control of you. My prayers that my friends and family will be all right and that God is watching over them. My dreams that I will be able to have fun with my friends again without having a gap between us.

I fear that life will be so much different once you go away. What will happen to handshakes, high fives and hugs? I fear you won’t go away but will stay and torment the population forever. I fear every cough I or anyone near me has. What if I have you and I don’t know? I fear that if I don’t stay inside I will get sick. I fear that I or someone I love may die from you. I fear that I won’t get to say goodbye to the school that raised me for four years. I fear I won’t get to see my friends again. I fear I won’t get to say goodbye to my favorite teachers. I fear that my life is never going to be the same.

So Corona, you’ve gotten what you wanted. You have my fear, my worry, my anxiety. But you want to know what you don’t have? You haven’t taken away my hope, my prayers, my dreams. My hopes that we will at some point take control of you. My prayers that my friends and family will be all right and that God is watching over them. My dreams that I will be able to have fun with my friends again without having a gap between us. So my dear Corona, you may worry me, but you do not control me.

Sincerely yours,

Paige Brick

Javarrius Shipp

Dear Corona,

I could write a book about all the things that you’ve stole from. School, my life, my prom, everything. You came around in the worst time of year because this year was suppose to be the year that my life finally unfolds and I get to do the one thing I have been going to school for my whole life, which is to graduate. I've never been so upset about anything ever in my life but for it to happen like this is just depressing.

In the beginning, you were just a topic in school. Nobody was worried. Everything was a-okay. But, as time went you became a bigger problem, a threat even, to the whole world. You started spreading and killing people and it made the whole world close up and everything in it.

If I were to list the top 5 things to ever happen to me in my life, this would more than likely be #1. This just goes to show that you've got to expect the unexpected, even if it is the worst thing to ever happen to you. That’s life though. It isn’t fair at all so you've just got to take the good with the bad and roll with it.

I never would’ve thought that March would be my last month of high school. It is definitely a huge challenge to deal with and to face, especially cause you never know when this pandemic is going to end.

Life is not as fun anymore because everybody is “social distancing" or at least practicing it. If I were to list the top 5 things to ever happen to me in my life, this would more than likely be #1. This just goes to show that you've got to expect the unexpected, even if it is the worst thing to ever happen to you. That’s life though. It isn’t fair at all so you've just got to take the good with the bad and roll with it.

With that being said, being on this whole pandemic lockdown and social distancing thing has brought me a lot closer to my loved ones. I’ve built a lot closer bonds with family I use to didn’t even have time for and I'm loving. The whole social distancing has showed me who my real friends are and who were there just for the time being. It’s not all that bad cause I don’t really go anywhere anyway, so it's all good. Another reason is that I am finally catching up on a lot of sleep that I didn’t really get when I was in school. Being positive through the whole thing and taking it one day at a time is what is really getting me through. Hopefully I get to see all my classmates at grad because it’s the moment we've all been waiting for.

Sincerely,

Javarrius Shipp

Danielle Brown, Junior/Senior counselor

Dear Corona,

As I sit here, writing this letter, I’m not really sure what I feel. We got the news earlier this week that you had officially ruined the end of the school year. You would be keeping us from going back to the place we love and call home. I’ve tried to work through what this means for me, as an adult, and the grief that I feel because of what you have taken from me. In thinking about all of this, I inevitably come back to my seniors and all that they have lost.

The fourth nine weeks, for me, is all about the seniors. I have to mentally prepare and rest up during Spring Break – the days are jam-packed and everything is a blur until the hats are thrown at graduation. But I absolutely love it. I love getting to acknowledge them at awards night. I love sharing a meal with them at senior breakfast and seeing how far they will go without a dress code :) I love watching almost full-grown adults act like kids on field day as they smear shaving cream in each other’s face. I love seeing the pride on their faces as they walk through the elementary school with hundreds of kids cheering for “the big kids.” I love seeing their elementary teachers embrace and congratulate them for a job well done. I even love the battle of getting them to walk in sync with their partner at graduation practice. And I love seeing the one that fought for every class and overcame all the obstacles finally receive their diploma. I guess you could say the month of May is a big part of why I stay in education.

You can’t take away the numerous state championships, the beautiful music made by our band and choir, or the academic success of these students. You definitely cannot take away the laughs and the relationships that were made, or the mark they have left on our school. And you will never take away the impact they had on me.

But this year, the last nine weeks will be spent at home with my family as the world shelters in place from you, Corona. I won’t get to rush around making sure everything is perfect for awards night. Or battle the post-field day sunburn. I won’t get to straighten hats and adjust stoles for students before they cross the stage. I won’t get to see our senior parents beam with pride as their student’s name is called. As hard as this is for me, I have done this before and will have the opportunity to do it again but the Class of 2020 won’t get a do-over. The last nine weeks and all it holds is forever lost.

Corona, you have ruined so much for this class but you do not define them or their time at Center Hill High School. You can’t take away the numerous state championships, the beautiful music made by our band and choir, or the academic success of these students. You definitely cannot take away the laughs and the relationships that were made, or the mark they have left on our school. And you will never take away the impact they had on me.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Brown

Junior/Senior Counselor

Center Hill High School is located at 13250 Kirk Road in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Read more of our school coverage at chhsponyexpress.com.