No spring musical.
No graduation ceremony with thousands of people in attendance.
Needless to say, the senior class of 2020 had a different and unusual way to their high school careers than most students who had come before them.
Kaylee Blackburn, however, tried to take all the adjustments the cornonavirus pandemic threw at her in stride.
“It’s been really hard because everything kind of shut down right before spring break when many of us were planning on taking trips,” said Blackburn, a 2020 St. Joseph-Ogden High School graduate who was active in the drama club all four years at SJO.
Blackburn would have performed as Gretchen in SJO’s Freaky Friday production.
“Having not known then that those days would be the last ones that that we as a class would spend together makes us wish we could have done treated it a little differently,” she said.
Blackburn said it was difficult to not have a normal graduation ceremony with her fellow classmates.
“The way that we did the ceremony is something that nobody will forget,” Blackburn said. “But it still was not the same without everyone else there to share in the memory.”
The stay-at-home order Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered in Illinois on March 20 had a direct effect on Blackburn. She started a job at Market Place Mall in Champaign last November, but she hasn’t worked there since the pandemic began.
“When everything started closing down, the mall followed shortly thereafter,” Blackburn said. “Since the middle of March, I have been home a lot.”
Blackburn used her time at home to focus on her school work, which was now done at home via a computer.
Blackburn said it had some challenges but she feels it will be beneficial in her future career as a teacher.
“I can see how remote learning can be beneficial for teaching students if we have to resort to this route again,” she said. “Also, doing remote learning gave us a chance to see other students during our Zoom meetings, but it still wasn’t the same as sitting in class with your friends.”
Blackburn adds that remote learning was difficult for her, most notably because of all the distractions going on at home.
“I’m a very personable individual, and I like the ability to ask questions, and with remote learning, that wasn’t a very good atmosphere. Plus, I got easily distracted at home, which also shrouded my focus on getting things done.”
While Blackburn did get a chance to do cheerleading for her senior in the fall for football, a lot of the memories that she and her classmates would have had together ended up being via the online method.
“We were still able to face time each other, as well as text or call each other. One of my best friends is the class president, so we are planning to have some kind of a reunion in about six months once everything gets back to some semblance of normalcy.”
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