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When Cascade High School seniors Jordan Simon and Molly McElmeel can begin hitting the books at Iowa State University in Ames and Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, respectively, their memories of their four years at CHS will begin to become a part of their past.

Unfortunately for the two soon-to-be graduates and seniors everywhere, those memories will not include several pivotal moments and events that are commonplace in years not dominated and shortened by the term “COVID-19.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the best-made plans of seniors and their parents to enjoy these special moments, and have left many feeling incomplete when it comes to wrapping up and celebrating the previous four years.

Simon intends to double major in public relations and event management at ISU, but feels like she missed out on a significant portion of her senior experience. “The parts I definitely miss the most from not being able to have a senior year are prom, a typical last day of school, final projects with my classmates, and a traditional on-time graduation ceremony.”

Like many, she also missed out on parts of her last year of athletic competition by not getting to show her stuff in track and field.

“Being my senior year and the year to really peak, it is very sad to not get the final chance to run with my teammates and be coached one last time by Coach (Tim) Frake and Coach (Amber) DeSousa,” Simon lamented. “To me that was one of the hardest things to let go, especially because an extended basketball season kept me from attending even a single track practice of my senior season.”

Simon was forced to learn a hard lesson, but also realizes the true importance of the situation. “I mean I definitely feel robbed of the end of my senior year and it is extremely unfortunate, but absolutely necessary. I feel it was best for the safety of our town and our students to cancel the end of our school year.”

Amy McElmeel is Molly’s mother. She said that as a parent, she also missed out on many of the traditional moments of her daughter’s senior year. “We were looking forward to her senior track season with her teammates and coaches,” she said. “We were also looking forward to prom, the senior banquet and graduation, but hopefully those events will still take place just at a later time. We were excited for the seniors to experience those ‘lasts,’ especially that last day of school with everyone at CHS.”

Thankfully, Amy said Molly is staying strong, possibly because her eyes are set on her next adventure. “She has handled it quite well. There are things about her senior year that she has missed, but she has had a really good positive attitude about it all. She has spent time working on school work for her college/high school courses and keeping in touch with her friends through technology.”

She added, “Molly has enjoyed her four years at CHS, but I think she is excited and ready for the next chapter. We are hoping to have a celebration in late July, but that is still to be determined depending on what is allowed and what is not allowed. We hope to find some way to celebrate all her hard work.”

Molly advises other parents in the same situation, “One day at a time and remember to look forward to the things to come. Keep communicating with your senior and find a way celebrate all they have accomplished in some way. Enjoy this time with your family — sometimes this time of year is so busy that we don’t get to enjoy the time with our kids.”

Simon said to the CHS class of 2020, “To my classmates, really all I can say is thank you so much for being the best classmates I could ask for the past four years. Although we didn’t get our typical ending, I feel like our class easily left our mark on this school, our teachers, and our community.”