BELLE GLADE — E’Mya Jones is one sorely disappointed soon-to-be-graduate of Glades Central Community High School.
It was announced over the weekend that public school students in Florida now would not be able to finish out their regular 2019-2020 school year in this singular year of abnormalcy, after a first-ever statewide shutdown in the middle of their final semester for the seniors in the Class of 2020.
E’Mya, like all her classmates, is coping with the new, mandatory education mode of distance learning, while missing most of the final, heady ritual celebrations of their high school successes. They are the only high school class in modern American history, those of 2020, to be finishing their studies remotely while self-isolating with their families.
From all appearances at present, they’ll be the only graduating class since almost the beginning of ritual commencements in school gymnasiums, on athletic fields and in convention centers across the land who will miss walking across that stage before an appreciative and empathetic audience of their peers, friends and family members.
‘A very difficult time for her’
E’Mya’s mom, Tawana Walker, described why she’s been taking these developments so hard.
“She is currently Miss Glades Central. She has earned over 600 community service hours, a GPA (grade point average) of 3.5, was a varsity cheerleader, a student in the Criminal Justice Academy and had many more achievements. This has been a very difficult time for her,” said Ms. Walker.
“She is missing Prom, Senior Signing Day, Senior Awards Night, Grad Bash and the rest of her senior year,” she said.
Ms. Walker said her daughter has been “heartbroken, devastated, very upset. It’s stressful because we don’t know, really, what’s going to go on.”
Commencement ceremonies at the Glades Region’s two high schools, Pahokee and GCHS, traditionally have taken place “at the schools, in the gym,” she pointed out. They were interviewed after the announcement that Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy had canceled the coastal schools’ traditional ceremonies that take place at the South Florida Fairgrounds because of the governor’s stay-at-home order.
‘Virtual ceremony’ planned
He said senior classes would be participating in “virtual” graduation ceremonies online, just as they have been studying since mid-March.
But E’Mya Jones and Tawana Walker are in the dark about what, if any, plans to honor seniors exist for the Class of 2020 out on the muck.
“We haven’t heard anything. We don’t know what’s going on,” Ms. Walker said. “My daughter, she’s been upset, crying; I’ve been upset, crying. Today was actually supposed to be her senior prom. And she’s missing several events they had scheduled at the schools to honor seniors.”
For her part, Emya Jones didn’t have much to say.
“It’s kind of shocking, actually.”
Any other Glades Region graduates who want to vent about this coronavirus-
scarred year may reach Chris Felker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.