Seniors share thoughts on modified graduation, prom plans

This story was originally published in the fifth edition of The Lion’s Tale (March 26, 2021).

Graduation is always a heavily anticipated event for the senior class. The ceremony is the culmination of four years of hard work, a time for seniors to be honored and praised for their achievements. For a time, it looked as if the class of 2021 would follow its predecessor and have a largely virtual commencement because of the coronavirus pandemic. Then, on March 3, Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin announced the district’s seniors would have their graduation at the University of Central Florida football stadium, the Bounce House.

Many seniors were disheartened at the original plan, a feeling that disappeared after Griffin’s announcement.

“I am most looking forward to just getting the chance and opportunity to say I finished and being proud of a long journey,” said senior Kanya Smith.

Smith had originally planned to primarily celebrate her graduation with a small family gathering at home.

Senior Brielle Minnetto expressed her initial disappointment.

“I was annoyed we were not getting one because in my opinion that’s extremely important and the main part of senior year; it was like our last chance of getting to have a senior activity and saying our goodbyes to everyone,” Minnetto said.

She was relieved to hear about the updated plan for the ceremony.

“Now that we do have one, I feel a lot better, but now we need to make it the best we can,” Minnetto said.

A similar dynamic occurred with Grad Bash. It was originally cancelled, and Minnetto planned to have a few close friends come over instead. It is now back on the calendar and will take place at Busch Gardens.

Senior Zakaria Zakaria shared his disappointment and lack of motivation prior to graduation being rescheduled. “Knowing that I wasn’t going to have a regular graduation really upset me because we worked so hard for the past four years,” Zakaria said. “I have looked up to this day since I can remember, so I felt unmotivated, but now since we have one, I’m very motivated.”

Oviedo High School’s graduation ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. on May 19 at the Bounce House.

For seniors, prom is one of the final and most memorable experiences they share with their peers before they conclude their time in high school and enter a new stage in life.

This year, just as in the case of so many events, the coronavirus pandemic has made a traditional prom impossible.

“I feel bummed out because it was something I was looking forward to doing with our class,” Minnetto said.

Although many seniors share a feeling of disappointment about the loss of such an anticipated outing, they understand, given the circumstances, the danger of holding a large dance.

“For the sake of preventing a bigger spread, I don’t think prom would be the best thing right now,” said senior Katherine Flores.

An instance in which a high number of students were reveling in close quarters has the potential to be a superspreader event.

Senior Ethan Anderson suggested “a bigger venue and making sure people would be wearing a mask and following Covid guidance” could make a prom-like bash safer.

Members of leadership seem to have had the same idea.

Graduating students will have the chance to attend the “OHS Senior Garden Party,” a spring formal planned by the junior class. This event will occur on Saturday, April 10, at Oviedo on the Park. Dinner will be served, and the dress may be formal or “spring semi-formal,” according to the announcement. It will be open to OHS seniors only, who can purchase tickets for $50. There will not be any dancing, but activities will include lawn games and photo booths.