The last day of high school is a monumental experience for many students – whether that’s because you’re sad the experience is over, or just can’t wait to leave. As is tradition, classes sign yearbooks, partake in a goodbye assembly, and enjoy one last hoorah at prom. This isn’t the reality for the class of 2020.
With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, countless students are not only sacrificing their exams, but missing out on end of year celebrations. As we edge ever closer to the end of the school term, high school students are rebuilding morale by creating virtual yearbooks on Instagram.
On dedicated accounts, students are sharing photos of graduates, along with the name of the university they’re going to and the subject they’ll study. Classmates can comment on each person’s post with memories, congratulations, and inside jokes – each acting as a virtual yearbook signature.
Speaking to The New York Times, 18-year-old Ariana Mendoza, a senior at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania, said: “Our last day of school was just a random Thursday. They never said to say bye to our friends or teachers who we might never see again. This account gives us an environment where we can support each other.”
Another student, 18-year-old Matt Beiger, a senior at Dunwoody High School in Georgia, told the newspaper: “We’re disappointed to not have the opportunity to celebrate in person, but I think like a lot of kids, we’re glad to have social media to be able to connect with everyone virtually.”
Most accounts are submission-based, with admins editing the photos into a yearbook-style layout. Pointing out the benefit of these virtual memories, Mendoza said: “You can’t lose an Instagram like you can lose a book.” Other schools are using Instagram Stories to vote on custom t-shirts and other merchandise for the graduating class.
Speaking to Dazed in March, a number of final-year students spoke of their sadness at having to give up their exams and celebrations. It isn’t all doom and gloom, though – 17-year-old A Level student Matilda Prout, who studies in Watford, said her school had been “very supportive”, and even organised a last-minute end of year party. “They brought in a DJ and we had a leavers celebration, signing each other’s shirts and saying goodbye to our teachers.”