By Alison Waller || Contributing Writer

As a 2020 high school graduate, I essentially lost everything that I was looking forward to: not only my entire high school career, but my childhood dream, too. Whenever I watched a movie or a TV show depicting high school, I always imagined myself in their high heeled shoes during the typical prom scene. I bought the prettiest dress I had ever seen only for it to sit in my closet. I was a member of the string orchestra at my high school, and I played the violin for all three graduations proceeding my own. Every single ceremony, the idea of sitting in those folding chairs and hearing speeches directed towards my class felt unfathomable. It still is. 

Finding out that I would not return back to school and receive that closure, that book-end to my childhood story, was devastating. I felt unfulfilled and deeply saddened that there was nothing I could do to fix any of it. While going through every stage of grief, F&M felt like the light at the end of the tunnel. Having lost the conclusion to my childhood I wanted to live through arguably the most important and exciting transition of my life to the fullest extent. 

Being isolated in my own house without any raw human interaction outside of my family made me quickly realize that I took the normalcy of classes, exercising my brain, and seeing others in person for granted. I wanted nothing more than to have a fresh start away from the excruciating nostalgia of my hometown, to learn new interesting concepts, and see new faces.

Taking high school classes online was so gobsmackingly boring. To me, school has always felt like a community process. I missed listening to other students’ perspectives in class. I missed complimenting people’s outfits as they walked past me in the hallway. Most of all, I missed feeling school spirit and having people motivate me to do my best. It is either difficult or impossible to do any of those things from home. I want to experience F&M’s community, something that I have not experienced yet, but have looked forward to for months. My biggest takeaways from quarantine are how much I value in-person education and how much of my gratification stems from it. 

Obviously, I know that this is all occurring for a reason, and COVID-19 is a matter to be taken extremely seriously. I sit here complaining about my senior year of high school, but clearly there are much worse events occurring all around the country and the whole world. Therefore, I applaud and appreciate F&M for accommodating people’s thoughts and worries about the pandemic and granting students the options to return to campus or stay at home. That level of awareness and understanding is not something I have witnessed frequently in my hometown.

So many of my fellow 2020 classmates feel as let down as I do, and they desperately want to attend their prospective colleges and universities. However, a flabbergasting amount of them break health guidelines and disregard the impact COVID-19 has had on the lives of US residents and the entire world simply due to inconvenience. They neglect the reason why we lost our senior year in the first place. I am relieved to see F&M’s determination to make the campus as safe as possible and understanding that not everyone will feel comfortable attending. 

I hope that we can stay on campus for as long as possible. But if we are sent home at any time, I know I will be so grateful for however much time and experience I get at F&M. 

Incoming freshman Alison Waller is a Contributing Writer. Her email is