St. Ed’s senior Zion Atwater was a very talented and respected member of the volleyball team in the fall, and basketball team in the winter, basically leaving the spring for pursuits other than sports. This year, however, she decided to finish high school with a flourish by sharing one final and lasting athletic experience with people close to her.
“I played lacrosse in middle school, seventh grade, and I decided to pick it back up my senior year,” Atwater said. “The coach (Rick Cassara) came to me and said the team needed more defense. A lot of the other players also encouraged me to play. All of the seniors on the team were my friends and I thought it would be great to join them for one last hurrah.”
Lacrosse in the spring of 2020 lasted but four games. It was going to be an encore for Atwater, a last chance to represent St. Ed’s in a recreational activity with classmates and friends. Maybe something memorable would happen to put a smile on her face years from now.
Something did indeed happen, but of an entirely different nature than anticipated, and it came with a guarantee that this period of her life will be remembered forever.
“I see my friends every now and then, but my mom is trying to keep the house on lockdown,” Atwater told us via FaceTime. “Everyone I talk to is pretty upset that we can’t spend as much time together as we used to be able to, especially at school. Everyone is pretty bummed out about how our senior year is going.
“For the most part people are trying hard to look on the brighter side of things, and not dwell on the more upsetting aspects of the situation. We are all trying to be as positive as we can possible be.
“Being separated from everyone gives me a little preview of what college life is going to be like. Of course, I’m not going to see my friends every day at school like I used to, so I guess this whole situation is preparing all of us for that. It’s making us realize that this is the reality next year when we are all away from each other. So a lot of us are just trying to cherish the time we have remaining together, even if it is social distancing from each other.”
Imagine that. A high school senior looking forward to graduating and making the transformative leap to the University of Colorado is instead talking of “quarantining and self-isolating.”
“Right now, it’s me, my mom, my dad, and my brother staying in the house,” she said, finding some gaps in the day for self-reflection. “We are holding up pretty well. We’ve been spending a lot of time together. I’m also trying to exercise as much as I can and keep up with all of my classes.
“Obviously this whole situation is very unfortunate. If I was a junior right now I wouldn’t be as upset. There is a lot of stuff that we are going to be missing, a lot of traditions that seniors typically do. The possibility of those things not happening is pretty high, as a matter of fact I think it’s final. I don’t even know if we are going to have graduation. Missing out on those classic and pivotal events has been a hard concept for me to grasp.”
The school shutdown was initially thought to be temporary, maybe lasting only a week or two. Incremental extensions have turned mildly annoying uncertainty into jolting resignation. For soon-to-be college freshmen, more clouds have formed on the immediate horizon.
Atwater structured a college curriculum to conform with a desire to take her love for music to the business level. At this point, however, flexibility is what everyone is majoring in.
“I don’t think anyone back in the fall would have guessed this would happen,” she said. “St. Edward’s seems to be doing the best they can (with online education). Obviously, you’re going to have setbacks if something gets glitched, and that in-person connection with teachers was something I always valued. But they tell us to stay strong and do the best we can. I’m thankful to have that kind of support.
“I plan on studying multimedia production at Boulder. I was supposed to visit the campus in early April, but everything is shut down.
“We have been getting emails giving us updates on the situation. There are a lot of different possibilities being discussed because nobody knows where this virus is going. It’s hard to plan out anything. If the situation gets even worse, there’s a possibility of having to start my first semester in the spring of 2021, instead of this fall. But we are getting updates and words of encouragement, which have been really helpful.”