This year’s seniors missed out on many spring events during COVID19: prom, awards and scholarship presentations, spring sports, and most recently a traditional graduation with their class. Parents and extended family members also missed out on sharing these experiences.
Looking on the bright side
Chrissy (Vredenburg) and Aaron Majors live in Park Rapids. Their son, Tye Majors, is a member of the Nevis class of 2020. Tye’s biological mom was Steffie Vredenburg, who passed away from cancer in 2004.
Filming individual graduation ceremonies was completed Monday and the clips will be combined into a virtual graduation that will play at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Chrissy said, as they watched the graduation, she took pictures through their sun roof since parents were not allowed out of their vehicles.
“It is what it is,” she said. “It was over within minutes. I think they did the best as they could with the restrictions. I had my dad, Marv Vredenburg, with me and he’s the one who was there for all of our graduations so it was nice he could be there for Tye. I give them credit for anchoring that tent down because it stayed up even though it was very windy. It was a nice sunny day, so you have to look on the bright side. We got to see him walk, see him in his cap and gown and getting his diploma.”
Tye’s immediate family will watch the ceremony together Saturday.
“We will also download and share the video with family from other states who would have come to the graduation,” she said. “We’ll have balloons and take pictures of him in his cap and gown.”
She said they could possibly have an open house this summer if restrictions are lifted. “We only have until July because then Tye leaves for basic training in San Antonio, Texas, with the Air Force,” she said. “He’s very excited, and I wish we could have a big sendoff.”
Chrissy said she has seen some positives come out of this time, including seeing Tye take ownership of his learning and helping out with his pre-K sister Finnley and his first-grade sister Luca.
Loss of senior milestones disappointing
Chrissy said graduation is just one of the things seniors missed out on.
“We’re not going to get that time back, those milestones,” she said. “These students worked their butts off for these scholarships and extracurriculars. For Tye, that was robotics. Robotics was his joy, and he was so excited for their competition in Wisconsin, but that was taken away from him too.”
Theresa Leshovsky said that, as the mom of Nevis senior Zachary Norberg, it has been hard seeing her son miss so many events, especially prom and the last memories of fun times with friends.
“Telling his grandparents they can’t attend his graduation was really hard, too,” she said. “They’re both in the nursing home, so they’ll have to watch it online. We’re thinking of doing a drive-by and taking a picture of Zach in his cap and gown with his grandma looking out the window.”
She said they will be playing the graduation video on their big screen TV at Zachary’s open house, using “common-sense social distancing.”
Zachary was accepted to the M State in Detroit Lakes in motor sports, which involves working on engines.
Jayden Vredenburg is the daughter of Brandy and Ron Vredenburg.
“I was involved in band and choir and we missed our spring concert,” she said. “In FCCLA, I qualified for state for a mentoring program that I created but never got to go. I was a unified partner for Special Olympics and we never had our swimming tournament. I was a Junior Olympic volleyball coach and we practiced but never got to a tournament. I missed my last honors breakfast. Probably the biggest one for me is I never got to have my senior softball season, where I was a starting second baseman. I was planning to go to prom and was looking forward to my senior class trip, even though we hadn’t planned where we would go. I got my AA degree and missed attending graduation at Alexandria Tech. We got our tassel and hat in the mail and that was about it. I feel like I missed out on a lot of key memories.”
Beginning a new chapter
Tye said now he is focusing on a new chapter in his life.
“I plan to be a drone pilot,” he said. “I’ve been working out at home and preparing for the Air Force. I want to go traveling, see what’s out there.”
He said the time of distance learning has increased his self-motivation.
Tye hopes he can get together with friends before heading to basic training. “I’d love to have a big get-together before I leave, talk, eat, socialize and say our goodbyes,” he said.
Vredenburg said she plans to celebrate her high school graduation Saturday morning by watching the video with her family. “I’m not sure when I’ll be able to have a graduation party,” she said.
She plans to attend the University of North Dakota in the fall and major in biology with minors in psychology and public health education. “I want to go to medical school and become a pediatric surgeon,” she said.
Amidst all of the losses during her senior year, Vredenburg said one positive thing she has seen during the pandemic is how the earth is healing.
During the stay at home order she has gone out kayaking and walking.
“I also started an online clothing business ‘Emerald Thrift’ about a month ago to keep busy,” she said.