Kaitlyn Doughty of Mt. Ararat High School is one of thousands of members of Maine’s Class of 2020 whose final year has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy Kaitlyn Doughty

TOPSHAM — Kaitlyn Doughty grew up joking with her fellow students about Mt. Ararat High School’s lack of walls and doors, as the building was designed in the early 1970s.

But her class was going to be the last to graduate from that school before it is demolished to make way for an athletic field and replaced this fall by a new Mt. Ararat High being built farther down the campus.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic’s closure of school facilities across Maine through the end of this academic year, Doughty is finishing her senior year at home via remote learning, with extracurricular activities like the spring sports season canceled, and questions hovering over when, if, and how senior prom and graduation will be held.

Demolition of the building that now houses Mt. Ararat High School is scheduled to begin in July and last six to eight months, according to school officials.

“The thought that (the school) will just be gone, that there’s no going back to it, is crazy to think of,” said Doughty, a student representative on the SAD 75 Board of Directors. “You don’t realize that (March 13) was your last day in that school, that has become your home with all your friends, and where you have made so many good connections.”

Doughty was due to be a tri-captain on the girls’ tennis team, “and unfortunately that’s not happening,” she said. Doughty initially hoped things would be back to normal by summer, “and then as this progressed, we all had to come to terms with the fact that this is real; we have to stay away and social distance.”

“It’s a very emotionally-trying time, I would say,” Doughty added. “A lot of people are trying to process it the best they can.”

Due this fall to enroll at Northeastern University in Boston, she isn’t sure whether she will be able to see her friends before then.

Prom has been rescheduled to July 18, and the district is still deciding the best course on graduation. An in-person event scheduled for June 14 is unlikely, but a “graduation parade” or “virtual graduation” could be held, according to Principal Donna Brunette.

Concerning the postponed prom, “we wanted to be able to give hope,” Doughty said. “We don’t know if it’ll be able to work out; we don’t know how things are going to look by then. But it’s a very important part in seniors’ lives, and so we wanted to make sure we tried our very best to get it done.”

“Everyone says that senior year is going to be really fun and kind of a breeze,” but the only part that is a breeze is the final months, said Maddie Wayne, a senior at Brunswick High School. “We’ve all had our experiences academically for the four years, but I think what’s it’s affecting most is we’re missing all of those milestones that we looking forward to … and getting to say goodbye to the community that we’ve had for 12 years.”

The Brunswick School Department has canceled prom, but is still discussing an alternative graduation ceremony, according to Superintendent Paul Perzanoski.

Of the many extracurricular activities in which Wayne – a School Board representative heading to Macalester College in Minnesota – is involved, two school bands are off the table this spring, as is outdoor track, of which she’s a captain.

“Which is really upsetting, because I really was looking forward to racing on the new track,” Wayne said. “But we won’t get to do that.”

“We are all really hoping that the students, or the administration, or the teachers can come up with some sort of way to recognize all of the hard work that we’ve put in over the past four years,” she said, “and that we’ll have some way to say goodbye.”

Hannah Goodman, who last fall co-directed Morse High’s playwright festival alongside fellow senior Keyleigh Duggan, said she hasn’t felt as great an impact from the pandemic and school closures as others have felt.

“My best friend lives in the same house as I do,” and Goodman enjoys being around her family, she said. Lesser contact with other friends has been difficult, but Goodman has kept in touch via the internet.

Morse has postponed both prom and graduation, and administrators are reaching out to Class of 2020 members to establish “a plan that best honors our current seniors during this significant milestone in their lives,” Principal Eric Varney said.

“It’s not ideal, but I understand why it’s happening,” Goodman said. “It’s just a matter of taking it as it comes; I can’t do anything about this, so why would I spend my time worrying about it?”

If she doesn’t have a graduation ceremony this year, at least she will have one when she graduates from Reed College in Oregon, Goodman said. In the meantime, she’s spending a gap year in the Dominican Republic.

Goodman had planned this spring to choreograph a dance show in Portland. That cancellation was particularly difficult, since her mother and brother were part of the show.

“It was my last thing that I was going to be able to get to do with my family before I left,” she said. “So it’s sad that I lost that.”

Still, “I get to sit at home with them all day instead,” Goodman added.

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