TORRINGTON – Most high school classes meet a few weeks before their graduation and pick their song.
It’s usually played during the ceremony, sometimes during the march out of the gym. It can be a flash in the pan hit, a summer party song, or something sappy – but it’s the song those students have chosen to represent their class.
There are a few that stay in heavy rotation throughout the year. Alice Cooper’s ‘Schools Out.’ Vitamin C’s ‘Graduation.’ ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Lee Ann Womack. ‘My Wish’ by Rascal Flatts. And, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, ‘Photograph’ by Nickelback.
All of those songs, and many others, will be played in sweltering hot gymnasiums all over the nation whenever students are allowed to graduate this summer.
But the one that might fit the Class of 2020 might be another mainstay for graduation playlists – ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ by Green Day.
It’s a familiar I-IV-V chord pattern, with lyrics about turning points and forks stuck in the road, and how time grabs you by the wrist and directs you where to go. It’s a great fit for any class, but it’s the chorus that rings the truest for this year’s seniors.
All around Goshen County, graduation caps and gowns are hanging in closets.
They are destined for the Class of 2020, but no one knows when the students will wear them. They were supposed to graduate on May 24, but Goshen County School District No. 1 announced last week that date wouldn’t work, and the next projected date is June 13. School is in session, but it’s all online. It has educational value, but there’s no solid way to pull a senior prank.
It’s all due to COVID-19. It’s the same disease that caused track uniforms to stay on hangers, and gyms to be emptied during a state basketball tournament. No one knows when prom will be, either.
It’s killed tens of thousands of people in the United States, according to official reports, and hundreds of thousands more in other countries.
It’s not the senior year anyone imagined.
“It kind of hurt that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends,” Southeast High School senior Greg Logsdon said. “We’re trying to make plans for all of that when this thing ends.
“I thought we might come back toward the end, but as we progressed through this quarantine, I knew there was no chance we were going back.”
“It’s something unpredictable,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong sang. “But in the end, it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.”
It’s something unpredictable
Torrington High School senior Cheyenne Mickle’s first indication her senior year wasn’t going to be normal was in March, when the THS cheerleader was on the way to Casper to cheer on the Trailblazers at the WHSAA 3A State Basketball Tournament.
“Hearing that made me so, so sad as it was supposed to be the last game I’d ever cheer,” Mickle said. “Then the next day, Friday, March 13, it was relatively normal, however there was a sense lingering that everyone kind of knew we wouldn’t be there on Wednesday.”
March 13 was the last day that Mickle and the Class of 2020 would ever be in class together – but no one knew it for sure at the time. Districts all over the state began to cancel classes, but Goshen County had a two-day Spring break on March 16 and 17. Finally, word came down from the GCSD office that class was cancelled. The closures were extended, and last week during a special meeting, the GCSD Board of Trustees voted to finish out the school year online.
“So, as any teen with a job, I texted my boss and asked if I could work more hours since we wouldn’t have school until April 6 and she put me on the schedule,” Mickle said. “April 6 is around the corner and now, we’re out of school till April 17th and we began online school. April 6th, April 17th, May 1st, and now May 26th are all the dates we were supposed to be returning to school.”
But in the end, it’s right
Logsdon, a three-sport athlete for the Cyclones, was able to finish out his senior wrestling season.
But, his season is the spring.
Logsdon was a late bloomer. He was undersized for most of his life, but a growth spurt was timed perfectly before his junior track season. He made the most of it and performed well enough to not only earn some state medals, but a spot on the Chadron State College track team after he finishes up at Southeast.
He was supposed to finish up in Casper at the WHSAA 2A State Championship Track Meet, which was supposed to be later this month. He was supposed to be leaving his final high school athletic event with some new hardware to add to the three state medals he picked up last year.
Instead, he’s finishing up his high school classes online, lifting weights at his house and looking to the future.
“Honestly, things happened like this,” Logsdon said. “There’s not much I can do about it. I get how it is. I just want to go with the flow.”
Greg, like many seniors, is handling it better than his parents.
His father, Jeff Logsdon, was all set for his oldest son’s senior track season. After years of following his three kids around the state and country – he reckons he’s put in a million miles – he was officially hired on at Southeast as an assistant track coach. He was going to work directly with his son for the first time since the youth leagues, during his senior year, in his favorite sport, just before sending him to CSC – where Jeff was once a member of the track team.
But COVID-19 happened, and Jeff admitted it might be worse for him than his son.
“It killed me,” Jeff Logsdon said. “Not having track season sucks. It really does.
“My whole thing is my kids, so I could follow them around and not miss anything. Now that I have this opportunity, it got cut short. It really did. It was frustrating at first. I think Greg adjusted easier than I did.”
But as hard as it was to accept, as tough it was for the father-coach, the son-athlete to see their dreams of working together to put their shared last name on the all-time records list at Southeast – they admit that in the end, it was right.
“It was frustrating at first,” Jeff said. “Everybody was cancelling everything, and I thought ‘why are you doing this? It’s a knee-jerk decision. Let it play out and make a decision later on. Why, in January, are you cancelling things in April?’”
But, as Wyoming’s caseload grew along with the nationwide death toll, Jeff said he made peace with the decisions made by the state’s leaders to protect the public health.
“Anything could happen here,” he said. “I think we’re the champs at isolation in Wyoming. We only have 500,000 people. At first, it was tough. As it came out, you made peace with it. I think it was harder on me than it was for my kids.”
COVID-19 put “a damper on my plans,” Greg said, but he agreed that the right steps were taken – even if it cost him his last high school track season.
“We’re not invulnerable to it just because we’re in Wyoming,” Greg said. “People can still get it. Toward the beginning, when we restricted everything and there was talk of not going anywhere or doing anything, I think that was good.”
“I hope you had the
time of your life”
The worst part of it for Jeff Logsdon, though, is that he fears this year’s seniors might not know what they’re missing.
When they all left school on March 13, even though there may have been a suspicion something was different – like Mickle said – the members of the Class of 2020 probably assumed they had more time.
Prom was on the horizon. Graduation was coming. Some students had surely printed their invitations. They were getting ready for the time of their life so far.
“You, me – we’ve all experienced those ‘lasts’ as seniors,” Jeff said. “They won’t have it. They have, but they didn’t know it. All of their ‘lasts’ were their junior year. I think people like me who have experienced, who have had their lasts and know what it was – they don’t know what they’re missing. You don’t want to say too much because it kind of brings them down.
“Greg has made peace with it, and that’s fine. He doesn’t get to experience a ‘last,’ but he doesn’t know what he’s missing.”
Mickle said she’s fine with the cancellations and completing her high school education from home on a laptop if it helps people stay safe. She said she’s grateful for Gordon’s public health orders, too, because “otherwise we’d have a lot more people sick than we currently do.”
It’s anticlimactic, to say the least. The Class of 2020 should be irritating every teacher at their respective high schools with terrible cases of senioritis right now.
“It’s been a wild ride and I feel extremely bad for everyone whose state competitions got cancelled,” she said. “It truly does suck and as a senior this year I’ve come to realize that the Class of 2020 won’t have a normal end to our senior year like classes before us.”
But still, Mickle maintains, it could be worse.
“I have one more final thing to say to all of my fellow seniors out there, it’s not as bad as you think,” she said. “Yes, it does suck, but just be glad that hopefully your whole family is okay and not suffering like many others from the virus. And it’s okay to be mad or sad or anything, but just know that we’re all in it together.”