By Ayla-Rose Naehu-Ramos
Closure is a luxury we, as seniors in the class of 2020, couldn’t indulge in. We spent 13 years, some of us more than that, waiting for the day we graduate, dreaming of the magical wonders of senior year: when you’re the top dog and nothing can touch you and you are infinitely young and free. A golden year.
We never got to finish it.
Many of us underestimated the sheer weight that COVID-19 would incur as it developed. I, myself, hadn’t foreseen the amount of changes our lives would undergo in such a short amount of time. When I left school for spring break, I expected to be back after a week, and I thought I’d be able to finish my last judo season. I was excited and I’d hoped to do well at the MILs competition, and possibly make it to states. I went to practice during spring break twice, and after the second practice I said goodbye to my teammates, expecting to see them in a day or two. I haven’t gone to another practice since; they were cancelled, and so was the rest of my school year. I never said my final goodbyes to my classmates, my teachers or my friends.
Throughout my quarantining, I’ve had a lot of time to think, and consequently a great deal of time to dwell on all the what ifs, and the could’ve should’ve would’ves surrounding my senior year and everything I wish I could have done. I should have cherished the time I had at Molokai High School more, I should’ve shown my classmates how much I love them, and I should have let myself have more fun.
Like they say, hindsight is 20/20.
As I began talking to my classmates, I found that many of them shared my sentiments. As one of my classmates, Maya-Lynn Castillo, said; “I feel robbed of my highschool life. I was never able to finish my years at Molokai High School the way that I was told I was going to be able to. I lost time with the friends that made my time on Molokai worthwhile. It breaks my heart to be in this situation and to have to see the world suffer. I wish I could go back in time and appreciate what I had before I had it taken away from me.”
Moving forward in these unprecedented circumstances, you have to either adjust your plans or cling to hope and stand steadfast. As seniors moving into a new chapter of our lives, we have a lot of tough choices to make.
Maya, instead of going to college and studying psychology, plans to join the Air Force. She says, “The reason why is because of how many schools closed down, and there was no guarantee as to when they were going to reopen. With the Air Force I would have a guaranteed source of income and the opportunity to still get an education.”
Contrarily, Keanini twins Claudia and Trisha are both planning to go on to college at Liberty University as planned. “Even though it may not be the same experience that I was expecting, God has a plan through all of this,” says Claudia. Trisha added on, “If I have to spend the first part of my college life doing the online classes I will, but I do plan to go on campus for schooling.”
The two of them are ready for whatever obstacles arise, as are many of our other students, including our three valedictorians: Jalen Kalama, Maria Angst, and Ayla-Rose Naehu-Ramos (me).
Both Maria and Jalen had to cancel their planned trips for this summer. However, their college plans remain unchanged. Jalen will be going to the University of Puget Sound in Washington State, and is confident that the situation will be less severe in the near future, but sorely misses his freedom to “go to the beach and do things we have the right to do.” He hopes that the lockdowns will be over soon and that we can return to our normal lives as a community—people need to get back to work to feed their families.
Maria plans to attend the University of San Diego, and has bright expectations for the future. “I hope that in the coming months everything will be back to normal and I will be able to physically attend college in the fall. I am optimistic that this pandemic will eventually die down and that the views of people have changed to a more positive outlook on life.”
Although I, too, have faith that our futures are safe and that we’ll all get back on our feet quickly, we cannot tell if social distancing protocol will be lifted in time for colleges to open up for this fall semester. Students may have to continue participating in distance learning, which is sure to be a challenge. Adversity such as this pushes everyone to become more self-motivated and develop effective work ethics. We have no choice but to adapt, growing as a result.
Still, my own college plans have not changed. I will be attending Princeton this fall, studying visual arts and creative writing. I am both nervous and tremendously excited to go to college, and I know with absolute certainty that I’m ready—that we’re all ready—to take this next step forward.