ROCK SPRINGS – 2020 senior classes of high schools across the nation are in a rare situation compared to graduating classes in the past.
Instead of enjoying their final days with their friends and classmates that they have come to know and love over the last four years, they are forced to stay at home away from them.
On April 3, the decision was made by Sweetwater County School District No. 1 to extend the school closure until at least April 30.
A decision on prom and graduation hasn’t been made yet. School district officials are waiting to hear from state officials on closures.
For student-athletes and seniors at Rock Springs High School, they are remaining positive and trying to stay active while practicing social distancing during these unprecedented times.
Seniors Rhys Brandt, Alyssa Bedard, Shaunti Longfellow, Carson Tyler and Justis Reese, along with sophomore Brenli Jenkins, spoke to the Rocket Miner Newspaper about how they’re keeping busy and what they miss most about being with their friends and classmates at school on a daily basis.
“The most frustrating part about not being able to enjoy the last few months of my senior year is that I am missing out on chances to make memories with my best friends. I miss seeing them so much,” said Brandt, who will be playing volleyball at Western Wyoming Community College in the fall and is finding new ways to train for the season.
“It’s been really difficult not having a gym to go to, but I try to take advantage of when the weather is nice and go for a bike ride, run or go for a walk,” she said. “I try to do a YouTube workout or just make up my own workout every day. It is also really nice to have a brother that can play volleyball with you from time to time.”
Bedard, who will be playing soccer for the University of Wyoming Cowgirls next year, said her coaches there have been sending the team different workouts from home and have modified them since equipment is limited.
“I’ve been spending lots of time with my family, going on hikes with my puppy, working out, and trying to stay busy at home,” she said.
Bedard is one of the student-athletes who won’t enjoy a senior season. She said that has been the most frustrating part of the coronavirus closure culture.
“It is by far my favorite time of year and my team had really high expectations for this year, so not having a chance to accomplish our goals is really disappointing,” she said. “It’s really hard to believe that I’ll never play with my high school team again, and that I played my last soccer game at Rock Springs High School as a junior.”
Longfellow, a senior track and cross country standout, has stayed in contact with her coach Mesa Weidle each week. She works out at the track and lifts weights in her garage. But like Bedard, she is missing out on her senior season – a season she has been preparing for the past three years.
“The most frustrating part for me has been the cancellation of my outdoor track season because I was looking forward to a really good season with my teammates and coaches. I missed out on my last regionals and state and that is what I have been working up to these past three years. I had very high goals for myself that I wanted to reach and I wasn’t able to so that was really hard for me to accept,” she said.
Tyler, who was a defensive and offensive lineman for the Tigers’ football team, was supposed to play in the 47th annual Wyoming Shrine Bowl All-Star football game on Saturday, June 13, but the game has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. As an artist, he also wasn’t able to demonstrate his talents at the art state competition.
“It is very heartbreaking to not be able to play in the Shrine Bowl as a senior. State art is also being taken away. These activities hold your last moments and memories with the people you have been with the past four years,” Tyler said. “But when it comes down to the health of the people of Sweetwater County and everywhere else, it’s the right thing to do, unfortunately.”
Like many others, Tyler has been taking advantage of some of the nice weather the county has been seeing over the last few weeks.
“Getting out and running is a great way to stay in shape. It’s frowned upon to be outside but this is where the fresh air is at,” he said. Eating healthy and maintaining a good diet is key, also occupying yourself takes a big part. Using house hold item such as milk jugs, chairs, water bottles, and dumbbells can go a long way.”
Reese, who will be playing college football at Dickinson State University, has taken advantage of having access to his at-home workout room.
“Every other day, I lift. And on the days I life, I go for a little run,” he said, adding that being away from friends and classmates is hard.
“Some of the stuff I want to talk about I can’t really have that kind of conversation with my parents so it’s hard and difficult. I think not being able to finish at the school that I’ve been at since my freshman year kind of sucks. I always waited for my senior year to come and the last couple of weeks to see how it would feel to be a senior. It’s also kind of weird not being able to finish school. It feels like I’m an adult already.”
Jenkins, who was named 4A West Co-Player of the Year in girls basketball and was the state’s second-leading scorer, continues to work on her game.
“During this quarantine, my AAU basketball coach has sent me several of dribbling and shooting drills I can do at home. We have a small home gym and we lift during the day and go to the track and run.”
Jenkins trains at Iron Cowboy Crossfit, and her trainer Cooper Palmer has been sending her workouts during this time away from the gym.
“It is difficult to stay away from my friends and classmates because I am a social butterfly and I like to have a busy schedule. I miss having my friends around to talk to during school and hanging out during the weekends,” she said about not being able to go to school. “This is all difficult, but I am glad we are being safe and keeping our distance. I have been FaceTiming my friends and family.”
As of press time April 16, there have been 296 test-confirmed coronavirus cases reported in the state of Wyoming, according to the Sweetwater County Emergency Operations Center, and only two deaths have been reported so far. There have been 176 recoveries in the state. In Sweetwater County, 10 cases have been confirmed with four recoveries.