Seniors reflect on the end of high school without closure

Graduation, prom, sports and concerts were all disrupted this spring for high school seniors. They share their feelings on the loss of a major milestone in their lives.

WILLMAR — This year’s high school seniors have already had their last day of school together, only most of them didn’t realize it at the time.

They know now that they won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony this year because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

And they’ve missed so many other senior memories since school closed in mid-March — spring sports and activities, their last concerts, and as of this weekend in Willmar, prom. There was no time for the traditional senior class campout or senior prank.

Several Willmar Senior High School seniors shared their thoughts with the West Central Tribune in recent days. They miss their classmates and their teachers, and so much more.

Some, like Sam Huseby, 18, of Willmar, even admitted to missing going to school. “Normally, going to school would just be a chore and not fun for us, but I would give anything to be back at the high school with my friends,” he wrote.


Last week, the senior class met with Principal Paul Schmitz to discuss graduation plans, “and I was struck by the surreality of it all,” senior Lydia Meier, 18, of New London, wrote last weekend.

Disappointment and a little disbelief runs through the students’ comments.

Daniel Halvorson, 18, of Willmar, described it as watching his senior year disappear — “I understand why everything has to be done, but seeing graduation, concerts, and baseball canceled is not something I was ever prepared for.”

Leslie Montoya, 18, of Willmar probably never expected to be living her dad’s saying, "hope for the best but expect the worst."

With her dream of a graduation ceremony with her family watching gone, “the worst” for a high school senior has occurred. “All we can do is have hope and maintain good health,” she wrote.

Montoya, who works at a nursing home while taking high school and college courses online, wrote, “On the bright side, this will be a story to tell our families in the near future.”

Meier wrote, “It feels a lot like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. When we left school that Tuesday in March, I suspected I wouldn't be back. But it seemed to me that a lot of students thought we would, and I didn't want to shatter any hopes.”

Meier wrote that she misses her teachers, classmates and “even the stupid car that took my parking spot on Wednesday mornings.”


Jacob Meyer, 18, of Willmar, said he was among those who did not expect school to be over in mid-March.

“It's been extremely difficult for this year's seniors to have to stay home instead of being surrounded by their friends at school,” he said. “It has been incredible to see the amazing support that classmates, teachers, parents, and community members are giving us.”

Natasha Klatt, 18, of Willmar, wrote, “I already had my last day of school and I didn’t even know it at the time, and I feel that all of the hard work that was going to be celebrated at the end of the year is just gone now.”

Some days she feels motivated about her schoolwork, she wrote, but other days just getting out of bed is difficult. “I was captain of my speech team and looking forward to the opportunity of going to state, and now I’ll never have that chance,” she concluded. “I am very grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities I had, though.”

Amber Evink, 18 of Willmar, described this spring as what could have been the best three months of a 13-year school experience, “taken away from me in the blink of an eye.”

She recalled her amazing four years at the high school and the relationships she built there. “I wish nothing more to spend just one more day walking around Willmar High School ... and get handed my diploma that I worked so very hard for in the past 13 years.

Abby Teisinger, 18, of Willmar, said that what she may be most sad about missing out on is the senior campout. “In years past, this is one of the most fun nights for the seniors as it is like a goodbye to their class and the class of 2020 isn’t going to get that.”


In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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