There’s a current Facebook activity in the U.S. in which people are posting their senior pictures from high school in a show of solidarity for the #ClassOf2020.
When I dug through my old photos to find my senior picture, I was flooded with memories from my last year in high school. The senior prom. Our senior choir concert. The National Honor Society induction ceremony. The school play. College applications. Scholarship awards. Graduation and all the parties. Looking for jobs to help pay for college. Saying goodbye to all the kids and teachers who had peopled my universe for so many years. The excitement, and fears, of closing the chapter on high school and opening the next chapter of my life.
Aside from the uncertainty, the Class of 2020 — which includes my oldest granddaughter — will never have these memories. With no warning, their senior proms, graduation ceremonies, the yearbook signings, the farewells and the parties were stolen from them by #COVID19.
Even the uncertainty they face is far more devastating than what we encountered when we graduated. More so than anyone else, their future is written in giant question marks. And yet the Class of 2020 is the one group that has not been helped at all by the stimulus package that was intended to ease Americans through this crisis.
Many of today’s high school seniors lost the part-time jobs they were depending on to help pay for college in the fall, but they don’t qualify for unemployment. And given the lingering shutdowns, there’s no guarantee they’ll have jobs this summer.
Because of their age, they’re not getting a $1,200 stimulus payment, even though some of them are now on their own. They also may not be hearing from colleges about aid packages and scholarships. And their ability to get student loans may be hindered because of the stimulus package’s suspension of student loan payments for people who have already graduated from college.
Although they are receiving no benefit from the stimulus, the Class of 2020 will be paying off the trillions of dollars the package is costing for the rest of their lives. We owe them more than a photo display of solidarity. Let’s remind Congress that the Class of 2020 needs more than our best wishes. They need our help.