As a student who has moved around her whole life, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to say goodbye to friends. Will it be even worse when we have to do it online?

“Transitions are events of significant change,” says G9 &10 Counselor Michaela Young. “Normally, something that helps us to deal with transitions is to mark them with certain ceremonies–events that help us to move from one state to the next. As inherently social creatures, seeing people face to face, sharing a meal, celebrating our memories, and physical contact all help us with this.” 

Young adds that isolation, or “social distancing” has altered this experience and may impact our ability to mark this moment and move forward. 

What usually happens for leaving students

Every grade has a different tradition. Middle School Counselor Stephanie Finnell explains that sixth and seventh graders usually have grade level “goodbye ceremonies,” where they come together to say goodbye to the leavers by hearing short speeches from their closest friends, giving them a signed Vampires t-shirt, and “swooshing” them out. Other grades may have their closest friends create videos for the leaving students and have whole grade assemblies to wish them good luck.

What will happen now

For the first time, everything will be digital. Friends of leaving students will create goodbye videos for their friends and watch them as a grade over Zoom next week. Student councils are working on a year-end assembly, which will also happen via Zoom, to celebrate a very strange year, and acknowledge the leavers. 

Vice Principal Fiona Moss explains, “It is not at all easy to do this virtually… so we are doing the best we can.” 

Counselors have acknowledged what a challenging time this can be and have had transition sessions with leaving students. DP Counselor Sommer Blohm sympathizes with these students and points out, “When we move and say goodbye to friends, we feel as though we have lost them and need to grieve them. These times can be very emotional and being online can make it harder to say goodbye and get the needed closure.”

Today’s Senior Graduation

Sadly, seniors will also have to say goodbye to friends and teachers online as well. 

Despite the efforts of the parent and student graduation committee, AISB Secondary Principal Jonathan Cain confirmed on Thursday, June 11th, that today’s planned celebration in Snagov needed to be canceled, due to “shifted government statements and guidelines.” 

Cain explained the decision in an email: “Even if we frame the event on Saturday (today) as a private party, the government is now limiting participation to such occasions to fifty people…We are not able to call the event a concert or cultural event, which allowed participation of up to five hundred people with special permission and appropriate physical distancing of two meters.” 

The back up plan, which is a compilation video, was sent out to AISB seniors this morning. It consisted of a traditional baby picture slideshow created by Lukas P, along with moving speeches from faculty members and seniors. There was even a musical performance by Jillaine S. 

Related Article: “What it’s like Graduating During a Global Pandemic

How to say goodbye

Although this year’s goodbyes will be different, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worse. All of the recorded talent shows, Flipgrid videos and Padlets will serve as a virtual time capsule–something we’ll be able to look back on. 

It might seem daunting to create all the videos and to take the time to participate in all the online goodbyes, DP Counselor Lindsay Kehl says it is extremely important–for the leavers and for the stayers. Many students at AISB have lived here their whole lives here and have seen so many people come and go. “It’s easy to lose sight of this, but it’s very important,” says Kehl.

Related article: “3 Ways to Keep Up Long Distance Friendships

Kehl suggests one way to help with closure is “writing a letter to an old friend” or calling them to thank them for everything. She adds that it’s possible to get proper closure online, and part of that has to do with your own acceptance.

Blohm agrees with Kehl, explaining how, “taking time to put thought and thanks into the most important people in your life that have made an impact on your time here, is not only going to feel wonderful for that receiver, but is really going to help you process and validate their impact on you.” 

Tell us: How are you feeling about all these online goodbyes? Comment below to start the conversation!