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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

High School Is Over. Wyoming Seniors Say They Didn't Get Closure.

Catherine Wheeler
A student gives a speech at the 2019 Westwood High School graduation ceremony in Gillette.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended everyone's lives. But as Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler found out, for high school seniors across the state it's been especially impactful. She collected their voices and brings us this collage.

Owen Preston, Cody High School: It's gonna be crazy to be able to say, like, for the rest of my life that my senior year cut short due to a global pandemic.

Keenan Manlove, Burns High School: It still feels surreal. I haven't really accepted the fact, but sometimes it'll hit me.

Alex Delgado, Guernsey-Sunrise High School: It's not really your normal experience you have when you're a senior in high school.

Baylee Stafford, Cody High School: It's definitely extremely frustrating and contradicting, because I want to be mad. But at the same time, in the same sense, I know that it's necessary. So it's hard to know who to be mad at when you can't be mad at anyone.

Dani Pebbles, Hot Springs County High School: There's just gonna be always that piece missing from our lives that we didn't get a normal graduation or a senior year.

Shane Dawson, Lander Valley High School: You didn't get any closure from like a funeral. We didn't get to go through the whole grieving process. It was just kind of like everything stopped so abruptly. And now you just have to you have to adjust and keep going.

Halli Beckman, Campbell County High School: I'm kind of missing the normal things because for the longest time I thought, you know, I don't really like school. But now it's your senior year, you know?

Keenan Manlove, Burns High School: A lot of the kids in my class who, I really don't want to say despise going to school, but were definitely getting the senioritis, they're some of the most outspoken people about how much they miss it.

Sheldon Williams, Laramie High School: Most of my sadness just comes from not getting to say goodbye to people. I've never been the sort of person who's super attached to like doing all of the things in high school, I guess. I'm just more upset about the people.

Brooklyn Durant: I have a friend that we have our little desks in the library. And I really just missed that because that was our spot.

Rachelle Trujillo, Kelly Walsh High School: And so it's sitting there and, you know, goofing off during class and getting yelled at and eating food when we're in there. Just little things like that.

Brooklyn Durant: Like I miss going through the halls and secretly judging people, but like, also being their friends. Like you always have those people that block the hallways and you're just like, 'Oh my gosh, why are you in the middle of the hallway I'm trying to get to class.' I miss that.

Tyler O'Brien, Natrona County High School: I definitely miss my girlfriend first and foremost, because, I mean...

Vanessa Ruiz, Torrington High School I moved here in the eighth grade, and I've known them for only four years, like my friends and senior classmates, and they've grown to the point where I know them so well.

Kai Haukaas, Evanston High School: There's kind of like a checklist that you have as a senior that you see all of the other seniors do. And we've gotten to check off everything as we've gone like homecoming, last game, basketball, the last basketball game and all that. And then to have that checklist just like cut off.

Kate Brown, Big Horn High School: I'm not usually a super sentimental person, but senior prom is kind of a big deal. I bought a dress four days before they put us into quarantine. No returns, no refunds, no nothing. So I was a little agitated.

Cole Micheli, Cheyenne East High School: I was actually about to ask my date, the Wednesday after everything got canceled. I was gonna get on their school announcements, which I think would have been fun.

Kate Brown, Big Horn High School: I decided to go all out too since it was senior year. So I was like, okay, it's a blue, and then the back like these down and then it's just like flowy on the bottom.

McKaylee Miller, Laramie High School: It's a long blue dress. It's kind of poofy, it has a halter neck, and it's got these beautiful jewels and stuff kind of hanging from them. It kind of looks like a curtain in a way. But it looks like it literally looks like it was pulled right out of Cinderella. We do go through 12 years and all that stuff and like just continuously working hard and stuff. And I guess it's just a little celebration, a little last hurrah.

Juliana Andrews, homeschool, formerly attended Laramie High School: Sports and those clubs were the only way that I could get social time since I chose to go online. And we finally made it to nationals in Texas, and that was supposed to be at the end of March. And that got canceled. And so I played my last hockey games without knowing it.

Trayshon Spoonhunter, Lander Valley High School: We were on our way to state. We were little bit out of Shoshoni on our way to Casper, trying to get another state championship which would have been back to back, when we heard the news. Like I wasn't really sad or upset I was just like more, like shocked, like damn. Like it's actually happening.

Braydon Bond, Cody High School: WHSAA announced that track season, actually all spring sports are closed for the rest of the year.

Haley Sutton, Natrona County High School: It was really kind of disheartening for I think for everything I've been working for to kind of get thrown away almost.

Baylee Stafford, Cody High School: I really look forward to soccer. Soccer is definitely my favorite, and our team is the best. We had a really good chance of winning again this year.

Angel Alsides, Torrington High School: They turned on the soccer lights. And I was parked there and standing. And like I could imagine myself all those years playing soccer, like, all by myself.

Chris Finch, Natrona County High School: It really is like it's a huge bummer because unfortunately I'm not going to athletes that's going to be continuing in college for athletics or anything like that. And so like I just kind of lost what I felt was going to be just the last chance to you know, compete with my friends.

Kate Brown, Big Horn High School: It's definitely gonna be a thing to look back on especially in like yearbooks. We were talking about that last week in my yearbook class this morning, trying to figure out how we're going to put stuff together if we don't have seven sports to fill the back pages anymore.

Juliana Andrews, homeschool, formerly attended Laramie High School: I did cry because it's just like, kind of pulled from you. My dad always told me to play this game as if it was your last. And I always brushed it off because I was like, 'Oh, you know, I have state, I have nationals, I have all these things,' and he was so right. It feels like when I move on to college, I didn't close that chapter of my life properly.

Shane Dawson, Lander Valley High School: One of the things that I'm really sad about missing out on is my last state FFA convention, especially being the president and being a senior that I was looking forward to being able to walk across that stage for the last time.

Mickayla VanNatter, Guernsey-Sunrise High School: I'm also really going to miss our band and choir performances. And our spring musical was also lost because of this.

Sheldon Williams, Laramie High School: So we had the costumes rented. We were going to go and get them after spring break, actually. And we had just finished blocking act one.

Elizabeth Hansen, Natrona County High School: State speech and debate is actually going to be online, but it is definitely not the same because the physical experience of competing, as well as being with your teammates, is a huge part of the activity.

Emily Anderson, Sheridan High School: Our We the People team, we actually competed at state and got first place and we were going to go to nationals, but it was canceled.

Jaden Moser, Cheyenne East High School: When we arrived in [Washington] DC, not even an hour after we got there, we found out that the convention was canceled. It's just devastating. I shed tears over preparing. And I stayed awake at night thinking about projects and things and it was just I put a lot of work into it.

Christin Singer, Wyoming Indian High School: We have usually have an annual trip to like a powwow that we've worked all year to go to. And this year we chose Bozeman, Montana as our incentive trip. And it was for April 6, and exactly, I think, two or three weeks before that trip was formed, we canceled school.

Brook Deal, Cody High School: I don't get to participate in senior skip day or senior prank...

Wyatt Burichka, Cody High School: It was really looking forward to the senior prank, personally, only because like, I've been pranked to every time. And then this is my one chance to get back at everybody.

Dani Pebbles, Hot Springs County High School: We had a whole bunch of them planned out, like dragging all the desks out into the parking lot.

Haley Sutton, Natrona County High School: I was going to hire a band to follow around our head track coach for a day because I knew that would be the most annoying thing. But now, I can't. So.

Victoria Sierra, Guernsey-Sunrise High School: Do I feel like I have big regrets for not doing any of these things? I feel like I will.

Trayshon Spoonhunter, Lander Valley High School: I'll definitely look back on it, like think of what could have happened and what could have been.

Keenan Manlove, Burns High School: Last day of school that we had, I don't think any of us realize, you know, this might be the last time that I'm ever going to see some of my classmates in my life.

Braydon Bond, Cody High School: That was my exact thoughts, actually. My last track practice, my last hang out with friends, lunch with friends, the last day of school. Who'd think that that could have been my last day?

Taylor Orndorff, Natrona County High School: So I actually went home early the last day that I was at high school.

Mary Harris, Wyoming Indian High School: I don't remember that day. It was like such a normal day.

Wyatt Burichka, Cody High School: I probably should have taken the moment like it was my last. But I didn't, which kind of sucks.

Shane Dawson, Lander Valley High School: We didn't even get like a proper goodbye really, from this place that we spent four of our, like, major parts of our lives

Keenan Manlove, Burns High School: what I'm gonna really miss the most about this is that last day of school and knowing, being cognizant of the fact that this is my last day of high school, being able to relish in the fact that I've completed it like I'm done, you know?

Mickayla VanNatter, Guernsey-Sunrise High School: There's a lot of things that happen in high school that aren't guaranteed. But growing up, graduation is supposed to be the easier part. It's one of the things you work towards because you don't think there's any possibility that will get changed.

Taylor Orndorff, Natrona County High School: There's something about like graduation and physically like walking and watching your friends.

Chris Finch, Natrona County High School: Everything I've been working on for as long as I can remember school-wise, I just won't be able to get like public recognition, I guess, for that.

Christin Singer, Wyoming Indian High School: The past four years, I've been an off and on on being academically responsible student. And I'm kind of proud of how far I've gotten myself. I'm kind of upset I didn't get to have traditional graduation.

Owen Preston, Cody High School: But, like, my grandma was going to come out from Florida. She had to cancel her plane ticket.

Dani Pebbles, Hot Springs County High School: I have some older siblings, I've been able to have that piece of their life with them, But for me not to have it. It's kind of like, oh, I least I enjoyed it with them, I guess.

Mary Harris, Wyoming Indian High School. Since freshman year, I've been wanting to know what it feels like to have an actual graduation and in the gym from when my older cousin graduated, and I thought her graduation was so cool. And I've just kind of wanted one since then just like that. Maybe even better.

Brooklyn Durrant, Buffalo High School: And when we're finally like, so close to getting it, that it might be taken away from us, it is the hardest thing to know. And so many people have told us, 'It's just walking across the stage.' And I'm just sitting here like, it's really not.

Kai Haukaas, Evanston High School: I keep seeing posts on Facebook about how we should just have like drive-thru graduation and I'm like, I don't want something special. I want what everyone else has gotten because I've wanted this since I was in kindergarten.

Dani Pebbles, Hot Springs County High School: We're gonna do a parade for graduation around town, just so that we can also get the community involved with us.

Dakota Jones, Campbell County High School: I'm just glad that we're getting one still because it was something like we've all been looking forward to. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mickayla VanNatter, Guernsey-Sunrise High School: This experience has really taught me that nothing is guaranteed and that I need to stop taking moments for granted. I honestly don't even really remember my last band concert because I didn't appreciate it as much as I thought I should have. I don't think I appreciated all of those amazing moments enough.

Juliana Andrews, homeschool, formerly attended Laramie High School: This pandemic, it's kind of an eye opener to see how fortunate we are to live our busy lives. For me, before I was complaining about school, complaining about all the sports I had going on, and now I'd give anything to get my life back to normal.

Dakota Jones, Campbell County High School: It's given us all an opportunity to, like, really change and adapt and learn, like, what works and what doesn't. And so I think we're all growing like a lot from this.

Emily Anderson, Sheridan High School: I had my schedule completely full and didn't have a lot of time at home. And now with this, I've been able to spend more time with my family. And I think that's been pretty important, especially going to college this fall just to have that last few months with family.

Haley Sutton, Natrona County High School: In 20 years, I'll probably look back and be really sad. I just feel like in this middle place where, like, I'm not missing anything yet. But I know that eventually I'm going to.

Elizabeth Hansen, Natrona County High School: I'd honestly rather it shook out as having social distancing implemented in order to minimize the effects of the pandemic. So it's one of those where it will be frustrating to have not had some of those experiences, but in the context of everything, I'm okay staying home so less people have a chance of, you know, dying.

Kai Haukaas, Evanston High School: And it's kind of like the biggest thing that's happened in my age group's lives because like I wasn't alive when 9/11 happened. So I don't remember that. I don't remember the impacts of it because I was kind of just raising the impacts of it. And I have a feeling that this is going to have impacts that are as big as 9/11.

Keenan Manlove, Burns High School: We're all in the same boat, but we're not all part of the same storm. There are definitely people out there who have way worse than just a senior who's not going to experience his high school prom.

Thank you to all of the seniors who are a part of this story. Happy Graduation from Wyoming Public Radio!

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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