AHS graduation 1

Last spring, the Class of 2019 AHS seniors excitedly held their diplomas during graduation. 

Aynor High School senior Emory West decided to make the best of his time stuck at home by using his musical talents, writing a song dedicated to the senior class and sharing it on social media.

“My heart is breaking for Emory and all of the seniors. To see them tough it out at home, when senior year is all about that social time together,” said Emory’s mother, Danielle West. “Of course, we’re trying to stay positive and trying to find the blessings…seeing the time we’re getting together as a family.”

With the closure of schools through April due to COVID-19 and the possibility of being closed even longer, area high school seniors are getting anxious about end-of-the-year testing, credits for graduation, and about missing the traditional fun senior year memories.

Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said Monday that changes have not yet been made regarding end of year events.

“It is premature to make any assumptions on how the end of the school year will close for our schools. At this time, no plans have been made to adjust our current graduation plans,” Bourcier said.

West is involved in chorus at school, and hates to think about missing their big spring concert and saying a special goodbye to their retiring chorus teacher.

A group Facetime call helped West connect with friends, but he said, “It’s just so different when you’re doing it over technology.”

His mom said she notices all of his good friends are “in a funk” right now.

Listening to music, watching Netflix, playing video games and trying to get outside to go fishing and ride four-wheelers is helping West pass the time until more information is given about how his high school career will end.

Right now, he’s still planning to attend Horry-Georgetown Technical College to narrow down what he’d like to do, then move on to finish elsewhere.

Jason Jordan, parent of Conway High School senior Sage Jordan, said he’s also heartbroken for the seniors.

“We’ve watched these kids put everything they had into trying to get the best education and college scholarships…where does that leave them, as far as college goes?” Jordan said. “It’s really taken a toll on her. She strived to have straight A’s.”

Sage is in the school’s new pharmacy technician program, and both she and her parents are worried that she won’t have the classroom learning time it takes to be able to pass her boards in May.

“These kids were born in 2001, during one of the worst tragedies of the country…and now graduating during the worst pandemic. Hopefully they can look upon it and be glad they’ve survived this stuff,” Jordan said.

She also deals with severe food allergies, and the massive grocery shopping that wipes the shelves clean makes it a challenge to find the ingredients she is allowed to eat.

“People are going and buying everything off the shelves. It makes it hard. We can’t just make lasagna, we have to go to multiple stores just to feed Sage. It’s been quite an experience,” her dad said.

She’s worried about graduation, and worried that the money she’s already spent on prom attire and preparation is going to be wasted.

Sage is headed to Coker College in the fall to study in their pre-med biology and honors program, but she said she still has friends who don’t know where they are going after graduation.

Josh Murphy, a senior at Carolina Forest High School, is all set to play football for East Carolina University in the fall, but like many others, is missing out on the fun social element that comes with spring before graduation.

His mother Brenda Murphy said the thing she and her husband Bryan would be most upset to miss out on the tradition of the graduation ceremony.

“He’s our baby of three [children], the last one…missing out on watching him walk across the stage to receive the diploma for all the hard work he’s done…the possibility of that not happening is a little heartbreaking,” Mrs. Murphy said.

She said she is happy her son got to have his senior football season and that she got to walk with him on the field for senior night, but she said she’s really thinking about those families whose children play spring sports who might not get that opportunity.

“I just [feel bad] that the seniors can’t have their season,” Josh said.

He said he’s trying to work out as much as he can to stay in shape for football, and doing his best to stay in communication with his friends during this time.

Aynor High School senior Colby Todd will be attending Newberry College in the fall on a football scholarship, and he’s most worried about how football will be affected, and if summer practices for his freshman year will happen.

“I’m not really worried about spring break or prom. I think prom is more for parents to have pictures and all that,” Colby said. “I’m worried about graduation…how long will football be delayed.”

His mother Tammy Todd said they are just uncertain all around.

“We’re pretty much devastated, actually,” she said. “It’s his senior year and many things that were going to take place may not take place.”

She also worries about his AP courses and whether he will get college credit from it as he should.

Yesterday, the S.C. Board of Education announced that some assessment tests will be waived that normally would have been taken at the end of the year.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said during Governor Henry McMaster’s press conference Monday that AP tests are done by the college board, and updates could be found on its website at https://apstudents.collegeboard.org

"We’re going to do everything we possibly can to have those tests administered. Students may have to take it at home, but it’s our top priority…those juniors and seniors, to get them ready,” Spearman said.

Almost two weeks ago, Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey told the school board during an emergency meeting that seniors are a priority, despite unknowns.

“We’re going to do everything we can do to make sure our students graduate, but we cannot at this time in these extraordinary circumstances provide answers to questions that we don’t know,” Maxey said.

Sage Jordan hopes things will be back to normal soon.

“I really hope it goes away. I never would have thought that last Friday could potentially be my last day walking out of Conway High School as a student, and I didn’t even get to enjoy it,” she said.

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