***Updated on April 7 at 12:38 p.m.***
Nick Scardamaglia was looking forward to helping coach varsity baseball at H. Frank Carey High School during his senior year, and watching his team finally beat rival Garden City.
Robert Metzger, another Carey High senior, was excited about playing King Harold and the captain of the guards in “Shrek the Musical.”
And Elmont Memorial High School senior Ogden Toussaint planned to devote his last few months of high school to making memories with his friends — hanging out at the beach and celebrating their birthdays before going to the prom and walking across the stage at graduation to get their diplomas.
But with schools closed until at least April 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic, those dreams have been deferred.
“It creates, overall, a depressing mood,” Toussaint said, “because we feel trapped, almost.”
It was unclear, he and Scardamaglia said, what would become of proms and graduations. The prom was supposed to come early this year at Carey, scheduled for May 27. “We don’t want that taken away from us,” Metzger said.
And at Elmont, Principal Kevin Dougherty told students on Google Hangouts that he, too, was unsure of what the immediate future held.
“We’re kind of sitting in the dark,” Toussaint said, adding that he and his fellow classmates felt “kind of shorthanded” because they don’t know whether they would get to take part in senior traditions.
Applying for college has also been difficult, Metzger said. He thinks he will attend Long Island University and study education in the fall, but, he noted, instead of speaking to the LIU dean in person, as he had planned, he spoke to the dean over the phone, which wasn’t as personal.
“Everything with college is kind of all over the place,” Metzger said, adding that he hoped he and his fellow classmates could return to school soon and have a chance to perform their musical. “I miss that school,” he said, “and I never thought I’d say that.”
And it isn’t just the high school seniors who are struggling to adapt to weeks-long school closures. Touissant said that students in the lower grades were wondering how they would meet their graduation requirements — and Nicole Evangelista, a senior education major at Western Connecticut State University who’s from Franklin Square, said she was struggling to meet hers.
Evangelista’s semester of student teaching was cut short, at 38 days, so she got less experience in front of a classroom than education majors in other years, and she must pass the edTPA, a national, subject-specific, portfolio-based assessment of teaching performance in which student teachers demonstrate their readiness for a full-time classroom.
Evangelista was fortunate to be able to video herself teaching a class before the Connecticut school district where she was working closed, but, she said, she had completed only 10 pages of her required 40- to 80-page portfolio.
“It’s not easy to get the help we thought we were going to get,” she said, adding that it was difficult for her “to accept that this is happening everywhere.”
Western Connecticut State canceled its graduation ceremony, Evangelista said, and she was unable to finish her final season as a lacrosse player. The NCAA has granted college seniors another year of eligibility, but, she said, she couldn’t commit to another year of college.
“I think we’re all going to come out of this more appreciative,” she said, “but right now it’s hard to get through it.”