The COVID-19 virus has claimed virtually all activities normally associated with the culmination of high school life for Point Loma High School seniors as two of the biggest cling to life.
Members of the PLHS Class of 2020 are heartbroken about the loss of so many traditional senior activities they would normally look forward to but, along with their parents, there are two events they are hoping to resuscitate.
Entering recovery are plans for the school's senior prom and 95th commencement ceremony over summer.
News of the two events' continued life comes from Ila Komasa, president of the PLHS Associated Student Body, who is also the student representative on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education and heads a committee composed of all ASB presidents at district high schools.
"The only thing that will stop us from having both prom and graduation is if it is still not physically safe for us to go back to large groups," Komasa said. "I've gotten the go-ahead for event planning the prom. There were issues with the students officially graduated but having access to student funds and insurance during summer but all that has been worked out."
The Pointer Prom, originally scheduled for the new downtown library is having its summer availability checked by the school's event planner. Another venue may be needed.
"The administration and advisors at PLHS have been very supportive of our plans," Komasa added.
Both events might be in late July or August when the majority of students have not yet gone off to college. Komasa noted her work with the school district applies to graduation at all SDUSD schools which may now have a summer graduation ceremony if they wish.
Komasa said her group of ASB leaders developed two alternate graduation plans including one where several smaller groups of students are honored before smaller audiences and a worst-case scenario where the ceremony is virtual.
Komasa plans to major in physics at a University of California campus.
Senior Class President Allison Sykes described the mood of her classmates after the abrupt end to their senior year.
"We are all grieving," said Sykes. "But I think most of us are at the point we are very grateful for the time we had in high school. We're doing the best we can." She plans to major in film or visual arts at an East Coast university or DePaul University in Chicago.
News of the revived events comes as good news for parents who were devastated thinking class members might not be together again.
"They had no idea (when they left campus) that would be their last day of school," said Leigh Burdine, one of a group of parents working on class activities. "(Their senior year) was just stripped away from them. It's a very tight-knit group of kids, most of whom have been together since fifth grade."
"Please know that I have been thinking about all of you," PLHS Principal Hans Becker wrote in an April 13 email to about 450 members of the Class of 2020. "Your senior year should be a special time with an amazing ending. I am very sorry that is not the case for us at this point of the year."
Becker listed cancellations by SDUSD: senior breakfast, senior yearbook signing party, senior awards ceremony, and Salute to Excellence.
Parents are considering an alternate date in late July or August for the popular Disneyland GradNite, not a district-sponsored event, with bus transportation from the school. Those with previously paid reservations can keep them for the future date or seek a refund.
No senior dues will be charged, Becker noted, and money paid for canceled events will be refunded.
Scholarships, annually valued at over $2 million awarded to Pointer seniors, will still be given Becker reminded. He encouraged qualified students to visit the school's counseling website to learn of available scholarships and submit applications in a timely manner.
The 2020 school yearbook has been completed and submitted to a publisher. Becker said distribution will be addressed once he receives approved dates and protocols for students to return to the school campus.
Becker assured he would keep seniors updated with the most current information.
"I wish you all the best, we miss you," his letter ended.
WANT TO HELP?
Do you have skills, ideas or contacts who might be able to help either the COVID-19-delayed senior prom or the 95th annual commencement exercises for the PLHS Class of 2020? Could you volunteer your time?
The senior prom, normally held in May, was scheduled for the downtown public library. If it is not available during summer months a new venue will be needed assuming students can again gather in large groups.
Graduation, set for early June, will now be held, if shelter-in-place rules are relaxed, in the school's stadium before students head to colleges. But several smaller graduations may have to be held if social distancing is in effect.
"It's been so frustrating," said Leigh Burdine, parent of a PLHS senior. "All their lives we (parents) have been able to find solutions but we can't right now."
Burdine has already seen community members, including Pointer alums, reach out offering help on social media and says "It's so nice to know that people care about our kids."
If you wish to help or offer suggestions, email [email protected].