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Class of 2020: Celebrating high school seniors

"I miss the people around me"
Posted at 6:57 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 18:57:51-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Senior year of high school is the end to a new beginning. But with students not heading back to school for the rest of the school year, high school seniors are feeling the heartbreak and disappointment.

There’s no prom, no last day of class and no walk across the stage on graduation day.

7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley recently spoke with five seniors from across Western New York who are sharing their thoughts lessons in a pandemic crisis.

  • Emma Fiske, Salamanca High School, Salamanca
  • Lauren Granieri, Niagara Falls High School, Niagara Falls
  • Zachary Mical, Kenmore West High School, Kenmore
  • Da’Zhanna Newsome, Hutch Tech High School, Buffalo
  • Daniel Sippel, Canisius High School, Buffalo

The five high school seniors, representing urban, suburban, public and private schools, all share an unwelcome bond of losing the last four months of their high school career to the pandemic.

“But bad things happen, so you really can't be sad about it you just have to move forward,” remarked Da”Zhanna Newsome, senior, Hutch Tech High School.

They are post 9-11 children, who have never lived in a world without airport screenings and active shooter drills.

“We kind of grew up in the generation rebuild — I feel — everything different happened with the class of 2020, and we've survived it all,” Lauren Granieri, senior, Niagara Falls High School reflected.

The class of 2020 is like the generation of teenagers from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

“It’s definitely eye opening,” reflected Daniel Sippel, senior, Canisius High School. “This specific situation — we’re so connected to it — it's so tangible in our lives."

“It’s crazy how some things change on a dime like that,” said Zachary Mical, senior, Kenmore West High School. “I never realized how much stability I had going to school, seeing my friends everyday."

“But you also have to think about that, there's people who are having a worse time that you,” responded Emma Fiske, senior, Salamanca High School. “I think that in the future that's really going to benefit us and teach us how to look at the bright side of things and we've come through a lot of difficulties and i think that will help us a lot."

“I definitely feel more mature and kind of prepared for anything at this point,” Granieri replied.

“I would say I miss the people around me,” Newsome said.

But the crisis has inspired these teens.

“I mean we all should be calm and like check up on people and everything like that, so it's taught me to actually reach out to family members — to see how they're doing,” Newsome responded.

“For everyone it's gonna have a lasting impact, when this is all over it's going to change our characters hopefully in an informative way,” said Sipple.

“It kind of gave me a sense of responsibility,” Mical noted.

All five high school seniors are planning to attend college this fall, but have no idea if they will be able to actual step on campus to begin the next chapter of their education, or if they will historically become the first college freshman class to conduct on-line learning.

Since students won’t be having a traditional graduation, we asked for a special guest to give them a graduation send off. Robby Takac, bass player for The Goo Goo Dolls, offered a special shout out to these five high schoolers, while Andrew Buckley, music major and a member of 2020 graduation class at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio, played the Pomp and Circumstance March.

“Congratulations to all of you high school seniors and have a great — rest of your life!”, Takac declared.