For the Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Class of 2020, missing the last two months of school has been a heartbreaking situation. Yet, for as unfortunate the current events have been, this was the second time throughout their high school tenure they’ve had to endure an event in which they were barred from attending RFHS.
In August 2017, the RFHS class of 2020 was about to begin their sophomore year until the worst hurricane to ever hit Aransas County came ashore.
Hurricane Harvey devastated the Aransas County Independent School District (ACISD) facilities. While other schools in the surrounding area began to open back up, RFHS’ would not re-open for another 47 days in early October 2017.
Nearly two years and five months after the RFHS Class of 2020 came back to school following Harvey, another disaster in the form of a highly contagious virus forced RFHS to shut its doors once again.
However, in contrast to Harvey, this situation brought with it a completely new set of challenges.
“With Harvey, there were things we could do. We could help people, we could volunteer,” said Belle Eaton. “But now there really isn’t anything we can do other than stay home and wait for this to be over.”
“During Harvey, most of us still went to school, whether it was in GP or Sinton, so we still went to school and tried to keep a normal daily life,” said Carolyn Goodwin. “But now, it’s different. It’s a little harder everyday to be like, ‘Okay I’m going to do my school work,’ but I’m just staying home all day and I don’t get to see any of my friends.
The RFHS Class of 2020 had to deal with what is an invisible enemy.
“With Harvey, we could walk outside and see there was a clear change that’s happened,” said Abby Saegert. “Trees were down. There were fences and houses destroyed. I feel like now it’s a little harder for us to empathize with this situation because it’s not in our own home. Rockport hasn’t been a big hotspot, so it’s hard for us to really see what’s happening.”
The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) forced the shut down of nearly all schools across the United States (U.S.). This time, the RFHS Class of 2020 was not alone.
Thankfully, the deadly consequences of COVID-19 have been almost non-existent in Aransas County.
“Because we’re a small town, we haven’t had the brunt of the pandemic necessarily, such as the bigger towns.” said Kyler Skinner. “But, with Harvey, we did experience that.”
The RFHS Class of 2020, like many graduating seniors across the U.S., were robbed of life experiences they won’t be able to get back as graduating seniors.
“I feel like this whole situation doesn’t give us the closure we really needed for high school,” said Emily Resendez.
Prom, playoff games, banquets, project graduation, winning a district championship, the state solo and ensemble contest for choir and band, a chance to compete at the state track meet, the state robotics meet, the state powerlifting meet, and so much more.
“We’ve looked forward to all of these senior events, and like freshman year of college now its like, you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not,” said Rebecca Garcia.
Due to the economic hardships also brought on by COVID-19, Eaton said a job she had lined up in the summer will now not be there.
“Not only is it disrupting what’s going on right now, but it’s going to disrupt our future,” said Molly Frost.
Fortunately, the RFHS Class of 2020 will cross the finish line with some sense of normalcy; in a traditional graduation ceremony.
It will still be a bit different, of course, due to social distancing guidelines. However, the opportunity to even experience a traditional graduation ceremony is something the RFHS Class of 2020 is ultimately grateful and excited for.
“After losing everything else, it’s still nice to have some sort of closure,” said Frost.
As they did in August 2017, the RFHS Class of 2020, along with educators and staff at the ACISD, persevered and displayed their resiliency in a situation no one saw coming. A situation no one asked for.
And the class motto for this years’ RFHS fighting Pirates and Lady Pirates could not be anymore descriptive of them:
“What lies behind us, and what lies before us are smaller matter compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson