Class of 2020 senior disappointed, but is maintaining perspective and positivity

Josie Carmien, a senior at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign, picked up her cap and gown by driving through the back parking lot at the school on April 20, but doesn't know if or when she'll get to wear it for a graduation walk. She and her classmates will have "a very unique story to tell for the rest of our lives," Josie told The Catholic Post. (Provided photo)

PHILO — If everything had gone according to plan, Josie Carmien would be putting on a red ball gown Saturday night and joining her friends at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign for her senior prom. It was a color she saved for this particular dance.

The coronavirus had other plans, however.

To prevent the spread of the virus, known as COVID-19, Gov. JB Pritzker has suspended in-person classes at all schools in Illinois for the remainder of the academic year. While remote learning will continue, celebrations for Josie and about 600 other seniors at Catholic schools around the Diocese of Peoria are pending.

“It’s not a good time to have everything be uncertain,” said Josie, who picked up her green cap and gown by driving through the back parking lot at Saint Thomas More on April 20, but doesn’t know if or when she’ll get to walk. “We can’t do anything about it. It’s just kind of hard to deal with.”

“Yes, it’s hard not to have senior prom. Yes, it’s hard not to have graduation. It’s honestly even hard to be out of school and for everything that is so all over the place, but we know we don’t have it the worst of everyone.” — Josie Carmien, senior, The High School of Saint Thomas More, Champaign

Acknowledging that she and her classmates will have “a very unique story to tell for the rest of our lives,” she tries to put it all in perspective, noting that there are people who are very sick or unable to leave their houses.

“So yes, it’s hard not to have senior prom. Yes, it’s hard not to have graduation. It’s honestly even hard to be out of school and for everything that is so all over the place, but we know we don’t have it the worst of everyone,” she told The Catholic Post. “So we’re trying to stay pretty positive.”

FEELING LUCKY

The daughter of Wendy and Brent Carmien of Philo, Josie is a member of St. Thomas Parish there. She is a graduate of St. Thomas School and played “just about every sport they had.”

That continued at The High School of Saint Thomas More, where she was a long distance runner on the track team and ran cross country through her junior year. Hip surgery kept off the trails this year, but she had plenty to keep her busy with classes in senior theology and senior English, honors physics, psychology, economics, statistics, and comparative politics.

She has also been active in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club and Art Club.

Josie has already been accepted into the honors program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She will major in biology and pursue pre-medicine studies in the hope of becoming an anesthesiologist.

“Luckily for me I had visited my top colleges before this, but a lot of people were not that lucky and had not gone on as many college visits as they’d hoped to,” she said. “Every college has been canceled now — they’re doing virtual, online college visits, which is not the same as visiting the actual campus.”

HELPING EACH OTHER

“Teachers are helping students, students are helping teachers, the administration is trying as best they possibly can,” said Josie Carmien, shown in one of her senior portraits. (Provided photo)

There is the added worry of what might happen as she starts college.

“If we can’t go to campus in the fall, then how is that going to work with all of our very first college classes being online,” Josie pondered. “That’s going to be a lot to navigate and deal with. So I’m really hoping and praying that come fall semester we’ll be able to go to school.”

In the meantime, she’s getting a lot of practice with remote learning at Saint Thomas More. Each class meets online once a week and the rest of the time she works on assignments posted each morning by her teachers. The work must completed and returned by 11:59 p.m.

The online classes give her a chance to see her classmates, but otherwise they’ve been keeping in touch through FaceTime and other social media.

“The whole environment, especially with Catholic schools, is we just have to help each other through this,” Josie said. “I think it’s been pretty good so far — teachers are helping students, students are helping teachers, the administration is trying as best they possible can to get everything down.

“It’s a weird time,” she said. “But it’s been good.”

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