Morgan Epperson, a member of the Halifax County High School Class of 2020, looked forward to making memories like ones in movie scenes her senior year. But her senior year turned out differently than imagined when it was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I envisioned my senior year to be more of a movie type of thing, like ‘High School Musical,’” Epperson said. “I imagined having a last few memories here — graduation, last prom.”
But Epperson, who had already bought her prom dress, never got to attend her senior prom. And while she will still have her high school graduation on Saturday, it will be different than the scene she had envisioned. Epperson was a junior marshal at last year’s graduation, and she had already thought about how it would feel to be one of the graduates. “Surreal” is the word she uses to describe it.
“When they start playing the music, everyone gets sad. I was looking forward to walking in with the graduation song playing, walking onto the stage and accepting my diploma,” Epperson said. “I was looking forward to taking pictures with my friends afterward and taking pictures with my family.”
Epperson will still get to walk across the stage, but it will not be in the high school gymnasium. And her family will still be able to cheer her on, but they’ll have to stay inside their car while they do so, in a “Comets in Cars” drive-thru graduation. But the Class of 2020 graduate will not have a chance to take pictures with her friends at the high school post graduation.
Epperson recalls the day she found out it would be her last day of high school – Friday, March 13.
“When I first found out, I was upset. I wasn’t expecting it to be my last day of high school,” Epperson said. “It is kind of heartbreaking if you think about it.”
Some of the other things Epperson was looking forward to in her senior year were wearing her college shirt on “Decision Day” and seeing what senior superlatives everyone got. She also has missed spending time with her friends and being involved in activities.
“I had a good, close-knit group of friends,” Epperson said.
She was involved in a number of clubs and organizations, including DECA, HOSA and the National Honor Society. She also was a swim manager.
After the shock of having her senior year of high school cut short wore off, Epperson started making the best of her time at home and turned her attention to the future.
“I’ve always tried to be positive. I’m only going to get out of it what I put into it,” Epperson said. “There will be other things in my future that I can look forward to.”
This spring, instead of spending time in a classroom and hanging out with her friends, Epperson has spent time outdoors and playing volleyball with her brother. She looks forward to attending her “dream school” – the University of Virginia – in the fall, where she plans to study communications.
While her senior year did not have the “happy movie” ending she imagined, Epperson said she is grateful for the memories she made during her four years at Halifax County High School and looks forward to making new memories in the next chapter of her life.