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Senior class considers disappointments, hopes as final year wraps up

Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin

According to the LA Times, there are over 11,033 active COVID-19 cases and 240 deaths in California as of April 2.

The world experiences panic, disappointment and hope as COVID-19 infects 205 countries and territories worldwide. To many, the pandemic hints at the end of the world and others hunker down in their homes, enjoying a break from the workplace.

Fresno joined the list of cities under a shelter-in-place mandate three weeks ago and students, workers and bosses are encouraged to adjust to this “new normal”.

Waking up knowing that the transition to at-home, online education isn’t summer break and that the entire world is encouraged to stay home appears like a scene out of a movie for many seniors.

As their class adapts to their last year of high school without prom, on-campus finals and end-of-the-year parties, many felt the need to voice their opinions.

COVID-19: No end yet in sight

It’s difficult to get a grasp on what is really going on; COVID-19 is not something to take lightly.

This hasn’t been easy for me personally. All I’ve ever wanted to do is cover sports and tell the stories athletes have. I wanted to share more than how many points are averaged a night or how many touchdowns are produced in a game. I was looking forward to the month of March as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was upon us.

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Senior Richie Cortez is a four-year varsity soccer player and Father sports writer for two years.

The Lakers were possibly on the verge of making it back to the NBA finals and the Dodgers were taking another step to hopefully winning a World Series with the addition of David Price. They should’ve won the 2017 World Series; we don’t have to talk about that though.

The point I am getting across is that, just because there is a bump in the road and your normal schedule comes to a halt, it doesn’t mean you have to stop until life resumes normally.

Businesses, especially small businesses, have gone to the internet to reach out to their communities and keep selling their products. A huge part of my life is church. Churches all over the world have started live streaming to their normal attendees. Even youth groups are running normal services and live streaming to their students. This global issue has shown that you will often see the best of people in the worst of times.

I’ve reached out to multiple individuals whose schedules are normally occupied with sports, church and extracurricular events, and discussed how different life is with this pandemic going around and how they adjusted in such a short amount of time.

Senior year comes to a close

Kayla Vanderlinden

Kayla Vanderlinden was eager to get out on the diamond for her last softball season at Fresno Christian. The 2020 CIF Central Section Division V girls soccer Valley champion was hoping to go out with an exclamation point on her final chapter of her high school athletic career. She explains what could have been, for her final season.

“It’s really tough not being able to play softball right now,” Vanderlinden said. “This is my last sport ever in high school. I wanted this to be my best year and I believe we had the potential to win a Valley championship.”

Paige Provost | The Feather Online

Senior Kayla Vanderlinden has attended FC since she was in seventh grade.

Vanderlinden has played a sport in the spring season for the past six years. She expresses her emotions on the topic of potentially never being able to play in a Fresno Christian uniform again.

“I’ve never taken a break since I’ve gotten here in seventh grade,” Vanderlinden continued. “It’s super weird and upsetting that I won’t be able to finish my senior year in sports. I’ve been playing softball the longest and the hardest part for me is that it’s out of my control.”

Seniors have shared the difficulties in accepting that their time in high school is coming to a close quicker than anyone expected. Disappointed by the cancellation of many end-of-the-year events, Vanderlinden shares some of her favorite moments from the rest of the year.

“Some of the best moments this year; that’s a hard one,” Vanderlinden said. “Winning Valleys, singing at Disneyland for the Candlelight Concert for chamber choir, joining the worship team this year and winning homecoming princess. The last one is definitely my favorite.”

As a person of faith, Vanderlinden discusses how she trusts what God has in store for her, her future and her fellow classmates.

“God’s in control and he has a plan for us through it all,” Vanderlinden continued. “We just have to continue to trust in him no matter how hard it gets. As a senior class, all we’ve done is focus on the negatives coming out of this, but there is for sure some positives. He’s going to get us through this and we’ll never forget our senior year.”

Braden Bell

Braden Bell headed into the spring season as the No. 2 for the campus boys varsity tennis team. Pumped with the hopes of winning back-to-back Valley titles, he was ready to compete in his final season for FC.

Daniel Jessing

Senior Braden Bell has played tennis for Fresno Christian all four years of high school.

Bell shares his perspective on his senior season possibly being cut short, especially after last year’s Valley championship.

“It’s hard, not being able to play tennis,” Bell said. “We’ve been told to shelter-in-place. Even if I wanted to go out and play, I’m not even sure where to go. It is very frustrating not being able to enjoy the sport in it’s entirety, considering this is my senior year and likely the last time I play on a tennis team.”

Bell was more than just an athlete on campus. He served on the video team for The Feather and as the ASB (Associated Student Body) President. While the aspiration of another Valley title may be stripped away, Bell talks about his time playing tennis, why he started to play, what this season meant and the possibility of coming back. 

“I started playing my freshman year,” Bell continued. “The reason I played was to develop a skill that I knew would last through my life, and just have fun. I’m eager to get back with the team and start practicing again. I plan on staying in shape so if we do go back, I’ll be able to jump back into the swing of things.” 

As graduation season rolls around the corner, seniors embrace the disappointment of possibly not getting to walk across the stage, receive their diploma and bask in their five seconds of glory. Being prohibited from celebrating the milestone of completing high school leaves many seniors disheartened as the year comes to a close.

Kayden Marquez

Senior Kayden Marquez has been waiting to graduate since junior high. After attending her first graduation at age 12, she knew that her moment would be special. Marquez shares the moment she knew her graduation night would be something she was would treasure the rest of her life.

“Since I started junior high it was the first time I went to a graduation,” Marquez said. “I saw everyone walk across the stage and it was the first time I took it seriously. I realized that it would be me someday walking across the stage. Since then I’ve striven to be a top ten student in my class. I always wanted my name to be recognized for the hard work I put into high school.”

Marquez contemplates the COVID-19 crises and her reaction to the situation as it remains out of her hands. She expresses her emotions on the topic.

“At first it didn’t seem real because it was only a week off,” Marquez continued. “I didn’t think about formal or graduation because I thought this week off was going to prevent this from being an even bigger catastrophe. But when I thought about there being no senior trip, no graduation and no grad night, that just hit me hard. The fact of it being stripped away so fast is upsetting because I’ve looked forward to this and now that we won’t be able to have that.”

Paige Provost | The Feather Online

Senior Kayden Marquez, center, played keeper for FC’s Valley championship soccer team and was also apart of the the homecoming court.

Although many tend to focus on the difficulties surrounding the coronavirus cancellations, Marquez reminisces on her time during high school, sharing her favorite moments over the past four years.

“There have been so many amazing moments,” Marquez said. “When we took a trip to Disneyland for choir my junior year, even though it was just choir, it was the one time my class didn’t have to worry about school.”

Aside from playing on the FC varsity girls soccer team which won the 2020 Valley championship, Marquez was a cheer captain for this year’s varsity squad. She has participated in cheer all four years of high school and won multiple awards, her favorite remaining the FCC West Coast National Championships.

“I cherish all the moments my senior class and I had together,” Marquez continued. “You never really know when the last time you and your group of friends all get to hang out. Some of those moments include senior retreat, a senior float we put together, homecoming and Sadies.”

Moving forward

For the past two years I’ve had the privilege of writing for The Feather. Without this I would not be the writer I am today. As a staffer, it has really boosted my confidence and I’ve had amazing community opportunities. From interviewing two Valley championship teams to covering Fresno State Men’s basketball games on the floor of the Save Mart Center, I am a better writer, interviewer and am ready to take on the challenges of college.

With sports being canceled and events remaining postponed, it’s been a challenge to discover stories to share with others. As this may be the last article I write for The Feather and I prepare to graduate, I will never forget this experience. I’m forever grateful.

To read more about taking care of yourself and your loved ones, check out Feather articles ‘Fresno takes precautions in hopes to reduce COVID-19 outbreak’ and ‘How to help those at risk during COVID-19 pandemic’.

For more of Cortez’s articles, check out ‘Girls soccer seals the deal, wins DV Valley championship’ and ‘Basketball defeats Fowler, wins Valley in 2OT thriller’.

Richie Cortez can be reached via email, or twitter @richie_cortez9.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.

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