Thousands of local high school seniors are missing out on annual traditions because of the pandemic.
Homecoming games, school dances and club competitions have been cancelled to keep students safe, which impacts how seniors spend their last moments in high school.
Rock Island High School senior Emma Widick said the cancelled events are disappointing.
“You go through highschool all four years and you hear about how amazing senior year is,” she said. “You get to lead the student section at football games and do all the fun stuff and then you can’t. It’s sad.”
She said missing out takes a toll on student’s mental health.
“Having something where you have to stay home for months on end and you’re not able to go to school, you’re not able to see your friends and family, it’s hard,” she said.
United Township Highschool Senior Abida Diasso said she is missing the senior year milestones.
“We just don’t get our last homecoming, football games, basketball games, prom and just like all of that, we’re missing out on all of it,” she said.
The social isolation is also taking a toll on Diasso.
“You kind of feel lonely,” she said.
Chase Norris, a counselor at Clock Inc. resource center in Rock Island, says the social isolation can be hard for teens and parents should check in with their kids.
“Start having those conversations,” he said. “There’s still a lot of people with that stigma that mental health doesn’t exist or we don’t talk about it. Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Suicidal ideation is real.”
Norris also suggested hosting small, social distanced gatherings to celebrate the moments that seniors may miss out on during this school year.
This year has also taken a toll on Moline High School senior Nicholas Yates. As someone who wants to major in music education, he is sad to see choir concerts and musicals shifting to different formats. Through the disappointment, he’s learning to look forward.
“There’s going to be an end to all of it, and it’s only bad for now. It will only make us stronger and more committed to the things that we love.”
Resources for talking to your teen about their mental health during the pandemic: