(The following is an open letter written by Amanda Antenucci on behalf of the Class of 2020)
Dear Dr. Ricca, Ms. Doherty, and the WPCSD Community,
This is Amanda Antenucci and I am a member of the WPHS Class of 2020. I write to you today on behalf of myself and many of my classmates. As with the rest of the world, this pandemic has changed so many lives in many ways. Many of us have experienced personal loss: the tragic loss of a friend or a family member, loss of income, fear of our essential worker family members being out on the front lines, an overwhelming sense of uncertainty causing an abrupt end to our hopes and dreams, and so much more. We feel helpless but continue to do what little we can to help stop the spread and protect everyone around us. We hate to see the negatives that this pandemic has caused all around the world, but it also gives us hope to see the good things that have come out of it, such as people staying apart to make a difference, clapping for the essential workers, and the endless donations and volunteering that have taken place at food pantries all over including in White Plains. Despite our attempts to see the positive, every time Covid19 takes something else from us, a piece of our hearts breaks. I, personally, tune in live every day to watch Dr. Ricca speak, in the hopes of learning that some good news will come to us seniors.
Our class is a class united, and many of us have been in constant contact trying to get through this together and continue to feel the sense of community we are used to.We hear from so many people how much they feel for us and we truly appreciate it. It is nice to be supported but we aren’t sure people know how much this is truly affecting us. We are constantly in tears, crying because we’ve already lost so much. For many of the seniors, this was the year we would be captains of our sport's team, proudly accept our NHS cords, display our art portfolios, get to carry the torch at the Loucks games, perform at our final school concert, take our last bow in the final play, sign our senior yearbooks, get dressed up for prom, and just make as many lasting memories we can with the people that have watched us grow up. This is important to us because soon we will all be heading in different directions to follow our own paths.
We know it is very difficult to plan milestone events in such uncertain times. Your jobs are not ones that anyone would want at the moment, but being on our end and just waiting and hoping that we can have some normalcy is extremely difficult for us. We heard today that we would most likely have a virtual graduation, and while we appreciate those efforts….we truly do! We would like to request if, at some point, it could be an option for the Class of 2020 to stand together, side by side (six feet apart, of course). The Naval Academy recently had their graduates show up and sit six feet apart from each other in an outdoor setting. Families were not permitted at the ceremony but instead , they watched it virtually from home. We wish we, like those graduates, will be able to stand together as a class as we always have and experience this last milestone together! We know that our parents would love to be there, but in speaking to some of the parents of seniors at our school many expressed they would have given up being there physically for us so that our grade can be together. Working with the idea to keep the social distancing going, instead of walking across the stage and receiving a physical diploma, each student can walk across the stage and when their name is called they can simply switch the tassel of their cap from right to left. Is there a way for a possible virtual graduation in June, but perhaps hold off a physical graduation until the end of July or even in November when many of us kids are home from school? The amount of ideas that have been circling around from not only students of White Plains, but students from across the country is unbelievable. We would love to share them all!
Another thing we would like to address is prom. We understand this is also a very difficult situation. We keep hearing rumors about prom not taking place at all. Actually, this is one of many rumors that creates more uncertainty for us. We completely understand why holding prom on June fifth is something that would not be safe to do at the moment, but please do not forget about this class. Please allow us to have this event at some point when it’s safe. You truly have no idea how much we need this.
None of us knew that March 13th, may have been the last time we walked into our science class or the last time we would go to Roosters with our best friends. If we only we knew, we would have hugged our friends one last time, thanked our teachers, walked through the hallways and paused to reflect on all the memories. If only we knew!!!! We probably would have sat in the parking lot until TOGETHER we were forced to leave!!!!
As seniors in the Class of 2020, we wake up every day knowing how many memories we will not get to make, but we are hopeful that there will be some opportunities for us to make new ones, even though they will look very different from yours, and all the Tigers that came before us.
As always, on behalf of the senior class, thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do for us. We are an amazing, bright, close and unique class of over 500 because of everyone’s dedication to us over the last 13 years. We are #WPPROUD #WPSTRONG.
Amanda Antenucci on behalf of the Class of 2020