New Jersey schools officially closed for the year

Tate Fallon, R3 Features Editor

Photo by Govenor Phil Murphy’s Twitter account @GovMurphy
Announcement from Govenor Phil Murphy’s Twitter page.

On May 4, Governor Phil Murphy announced that all New Jersey schools will remain closed for the rest of the year due to COVID-19.

Due to the current situation in New Jersey and surrounding states, I was not surprised to hear Governor Murphy’s decision,” said Principal Mary Asfendis. “Personally, I am sad not to be in the halls of Westfield High School and miss seeing students learning and working together each day. I am extremely proud of our entire school community for coming together at this time and continuing the quality teaching and learning that characterizes Westfield High School.”

While this decision was made to protect the health of the community, it has been hard for everyone in some way or another. Senior Amanda Ludwig reflected on the announcement: “I think especially as a senior it’s really upsetting not being able to finish up the year with all of my friends and not have a traditional prom and graduation. As there are a lot of bad things happening around us, we have to try and stay positive during this hard time. However, I just wish we got to finish out the year and go to all of our events like we planned to.”

WHS administrators speak to the students from the heart:

[This is] tough, especially for the seniors who can’t finish their high school experience like everybody else got to. No spring sports season, no play, no art show, no spring concerts…It’s heartbreaking. As an adult you always try to use your life experiences to put things into perspective for your students. This is something no one has ever experienced, so how can you make students feel better? I guess you want the underclassmen to try their best to stay focused and get through this time and we can hopefully be back to some sort of normal in September. For the seniors the virus is taking something away from them they can’t get back. I would tell them not to let this time of their lives define them and try to take it, learn from it and grow from it. I feel so bad for our students and staff because I know how special the end of the school year is for everybody.” -Jim DeSarno, Assistant Principal

I grew up hearing a lot about the Serenity Prayer, which talks a lot about knowing the difference between the things we cannot control and the things we can. I think if we all can come to terms with the things we absolutely cannot control right now, we will find that we’re able to focus on those specific things that we can control. This frees us up from all the clutter of major health-policy decisions that we can’t be a part of, and lets us focus on the small ways we can bring more joy to our own lives and the lives of others. And for now, it may be joy with a lower-case j, instead of the cap-throwing, prom-dancing, capital-J joy that we were ready for. Those other joys will be coming, perhaps even sooner than we know. Right now, though, we can all look for ways to make this time uniquely meaningful to each of us by addressing the things we can control.” -Warren Hynes, Assistant Principal

You are not alone. Not alone for being upset and not alone for missing milestones and all things that we could have been doing. We can’t change reality, but we can focus on the gains. This crisis has made us discover our inner strength and our capabilities. I know it’s not easy, but I am proud of your efforts and how hard you are working at making the best out of the situation. Hang in there! We’ll get through it, and we’ll tell our stories in 10, 20, 50, and many years to come.” -Mabel Huynh, Assistant Principal

“I know many students, especially seniors, are disappointed as well. I encourage everyone to stay strong and positive. Know that soon we will be able to be together again and enjoy those things we are missing now like seeing friends, playing team sports, and all of the other things that make up the high school experience. Try to get involved in the clubs and community service activities that are still happening to stay connected to the school community. We look forward to the day when we can resume doing these things in person.” -Mary Asfendis, Principal