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High schools find new way to honor Class of 2020

Several school districts plan to cancel in-person classes through the end of the year.

COLORADO, USA — The Class of 2020 will graduate high school in the middle of a pandemic.

Unlike the classes that went before them, or the ones that will follow, students in their senior year of high school will finish this semester without celebrating many traditional milestones on time, like prom and graduation.

Schools are now finding new ways to celebrate their seniors.

Friday, 14 Colorado school districts announced plans to cancel in-person learning for the rest of the school year, and instead, finish the semester through remote learning. 

Other districts haven't made that decision at this time, but continue to teach online for the next several weeks.

North High School in Denver started posting "Senior Spotlights" on social media, which include student photos and a brief description of their accomplishments submitted by the students' family, teachers, or peers.

"The more that we can do to make sure they know that they are just as valued, if not more, than if we were in the building having school -- it's super important," said Principal Scott Wolf.

Evan Lira, North High's 2020 salutatorian, was among the students featured this week. The post highlighted his academics, athleticism and his character. While the posts won't replace any in-person tradition, they offer a small sense of celebration for each student.

"Everyone is working to try to be positive, everyone wants to say something to motivate each other," Lira said about himself and his fellow 2020 classmates. "And nobody really knows what to say other than, we're here for each other."

North High teachers were inspired by a similar project at Green Mountain High School in Jefferson County.

RELATED: 14 Colorado school districts cancel in-person classes for rest of school year

Several seniors shared how the virus has completely upended what should have been a special semester.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU LEARNED IN-CLASS LEARNING IS FINISHED FOR THE YEAR?

“We kind of knew that this would eventually happen, not going back to school. It’s just sad because we didn't know the last day at school would be our last day at school.” – Anna Yoder, Lakewood High School

“It wasn’t real until today. We had a ‘prom’ somewhere in the back of our mind until today. We had graduation and all these things until today. Today its really over. Like, it's done.” – Jaxon Hoskinson, Conifer High School

WHAT DO YOU MISS ABOUT SCHOOL, AND WHAT WILL YOU MISS THIS SEMESTER?

“I am heartbroken for our senior year to end the way it is. I never thought this would be how I finish my high school career.  Missing senior prom, possibly graduation, and these last few months I have with my classmates is so devastating.  Walking out of the front doors on that last day was a feeling that I could not wait to experience and little did I know when I walked out of school [March 12th] was that last time. The most upsetting thing that I will miss is the rest of my senior dance season and my final performance with my studio. Dance has been the center of my world for the past 14 years and not getting my last show is something I will never get back.” – Mia Taskey, Erie High School (remote learning through at least April 30)

“I really miss seeing my friends every day, that interaction. I’m really sad about missing prom and graduation is postponed. And spring sports, for senior season. I really miss that.” – Myria Garcia, Lakewood High School

“That’s the hardest part, not being able to see my friends every day like we were.” – Anna Yoder, Lakewood High School

“We won’t have our senior chants…  senior pranks... Won't have our last senior ditch day after prom. We won’t have any of that.” – Anastasia Rendon, Columbine High School

“There’s a lot of people I’m never going to see again, I’m not going to get to say goodbye to and I didn’t have graduation or prom to get that closure. It’s just done.” – Jaxon Hoskinson, Conifer High School

HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS COPING WITH THESE CHANGES AND THE UNCERTAINTY?

“It’s terrible, I miss my friends so much… It will eventually pass, and we can all do our part by staying in.” – Anastasia Rendon, Columbine High School

“We just keep going day by day, that’s all you can do. There’s still a future, I still get to do college, have a life, and I’ll see my friends again before I go. You just keep moving, a step at a time, there’s nothing else you can do.” – Jaxon Hoskinson, Conifer High School

“My friends and I have definitely been having a hard time coping.  We talk to each other every day trying to stay as connected as we can.  The best thing for us has been staying positive and thinking about how much fun we can have when this is all over.” – Mia Taskey, Erie High School (remote learning through at least April 30)

"We know that even though there are a lot of things we can’t do, there’s so many different things to focus on instead of the negatives. We know that missing the things we’re missing right now seems like the end of the world but won’t matter in five years. We know that although we won’t have the same senior year stories as most people we’ll still have quite a story to tell." -- Zoe Sooter, Fairview High School (remote learning through at least April 30)

WHATS NEXT FOR YOU?

"I'm supposed to be going to college. I, eventually, want to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon." -- Anastasia Rendon, Columbine High School

"I committed to Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, for a Political Science major." -- Jaxon Hoskinson

"Next year I will be attending Chapman University as an Applied Human Physiology major and I can not wait to start this next chapter of my life!" -- Mia Taskey, Erie High School

"Right now I am planning on going to the United States Naval Academy this June." -- Zoe Sooter, Fairview High School

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