Maddy is upset.
“I grew up here and have been going to Boothbay schools since kindergarten,” she says.
Now a senior, Madison Faulkingham faces a spring different than she and her classmates had ever imagined possible: no final prom, no formal graduation ceremony, no end-of-year awards night.
“I’ve always watched the upperclassmen graduate,” she says wistfully, shoulders drooping in resignation.
When her parents told her on Monday, March 16, that school would be closed as part of the state’s effort to “flatten the curve” as COVID-19 reached Maine, Maddy wasn’t overly concerned.
“I didn’t think it would last this long. I wasn’t too upset because I thought we would go back. But realizing now we’re not going back is pretty upsetting.”
“It’s much worse than we thought it would be,” she acknowledges.
“The hardest thing is not being able to have a traditional graduation. And not being with my friends and close classmates before we all leave for school. Not seeing my friends every day.”
The loss and uncertainty makes matters worse. Maddy is sorry to lose her cherished mentorship program at Boothbay Animal Hospital (she hopes to become a veterinarian). And she wonders what will become of her usual summer job of “working weddings” now that weddings are mostly cancelled—the loss of income would be tough this summer.
She also wonders whether classes at her new alma mater, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., will start on time and in person. She hopes so: distance learning is not nearly as effective as in-school education, she has discovered.
“I learn more in school than at home. It’s so much easier to learn in a classroom. I think that’s something people take for granted.”
Without a doubt, Maddy (like everyone around her) is aware of all she is missing out on.
What’s less obvious to many—though clear to her—is what she is gaining from this unexpected ending.
Rather than experiencing the traditional “senior slide” and resenting the confines of spring classes, Maddy and her friends now appreciate school as never before.
“I used to dread going to school,” she admits, but today she and her classmates are mourning it—they’d give anything to go back to BRHS right now.
Similarly, at a moment when young adults are typically focused on leaving the nest, Maddy has also found great value in this time with her family.
“That’s one of the big benefits of being home,” she notes.
And that’s not all.
Maddy has by necessity become a complete self-starter, acquiring time-management skills she might never have in “normal” times.
“It was hard at first because I was used to the school schedule. As the weeks went by I found stuff to keep me busy and began to look forward to things. I have to manage it all myself and that’s so different from a set schedule,” she explains.
Following mornings of online classes, Maddy goes for a hike with her mother, or takes her dog for a walk. She may stop by to see her grandparents sequestered next door (“I don’t want to expose them—I go up to the window and wave at them.”) She has been doing a lot of cooking, is working out, and is on FaceTime with her best friend once a day. She is now taking complete responsibility for her daily schedule.
“I’ve learned I like to stay busy,” she says, reflecting on what she has discovered about herself.
All of this is critical knowledge for her as she looks ahead to college life; another blessing from the curse of COVID.
As sorry as Maddy is to miss out on traditional end-of-year activities, she remains grateful.
“Our community always comes together to celebrate us. They’ve done a good job doing what they can to make us feel special,” she says.
The Class of 2020, uniquely living this experience, is—indeed—special.
“I think we’ll be remembered as a strong class.”
And that is something for Maddy, and all her classmates, to feel good about.
Just before our interview with Maddy, Boothbay Region High School announced its plans for a special graduation experience for members of the Class of 2020. Read about it here.