With Large Gatherings Banned Through September, Students Face the Loss of Many Events


Fia Cooper

Large gatherings of more than 25 people have been banned in Oregon through September, causing the traditional graduation and prom to be canceled, among other events.

Fia Cooper, Staff Reporter

On April 8, 2020, Governor Kate Brown canceled school in Oregon for the rest of the year, leaving many schools to switch to digital learning. Just short of a month later, she canceled all large gatherings of more than 25 people through September affecting school graduations, prom, and many other summer activities.

The class of 2020 will now be graduating digitally. While some schools are holding Zoom sessions or drive-by graduations, La Salle will be doing a “drive-by” this Saturday, June 6 and a live stream to celebrate the seniors. There will also be a Baccalaureate Mass live-streamed on Facebook starting at 7:30 p.m. this Friday. 

Not only has the traditional graduation at Rolling Hills Church been canceled, but so has prom. Senior Silas Petersen expresses his feelings towards the cancellation of these events. “It is quite heartbreaking that prom and traditional graduation have been cancelled,” he said. “Those events are something that students and parents look forward to, and to have such a classical coming of age experience taken away is simply a bummer.”

For others, prom and graduation have been anticipated since the beginning of high school. “[I looked forward to] being able to just have a good time with all my friends, dance to not-so-good music at prom,” said senior Alison Paguio. “Listen to a really long graduation ceremony, cry while taking pictures on graduation day, and thank and hug my teachers.”

Another event that was canceled was the spring musical, Les Misérables. For seniors, this would have been their last production at La Salle. “I’m just going to miss everyone so much and just the feeling of being on stage with the people I love,” said Paguio. “The theater has been a home to me for all four years of high school and I am so lucky that I had the chance to experience the magic that happens on that stage.”

Many seniors have felt that the coronavirus has taken away their senior year experiences and the memories that would have been made. Senior Grace Elkhal explained that prom would have been a time where seniors could have come together as one class for the last time. “I believed prom was going to be a memorable night with wonderful memories to truly celebrate graduates,” she said. 

Even though many of the events that help make senior year memorable for students were canceled, people are still honoring graduates in other ways online. For example, on May 16, famous actors, politicians, and singers celebrated the class of 2020. YouTube held a graduation event called “Dear Class of 2020” where celebrities such as Barack Obama, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift were featured. Throughout the video, celebrities gave brief speeches, appreciating the hard work of graduates and their teachers around the world, and tried to make light of the far from ideal situation.

The possibility of starting college with their first semester being online learning is also a reality for many seniors. “Luckily, I guess I have gotten used to this new strange reality we live in so I could handle it, but it would certainly be a disappointing way to start my life beyond high school,” Petersen said. 

Even though the situation is less than ideal, “the health and safety of the people is always going to be more important to me,” said Paguio. 

In September, students at La Salle might have a similar reality, as they don’t know whether they will start school digitally or in person. 

“I’m grateful for our school’s ability to stay connected with one another and have productive online classes,” junior Molly Jenne said. 

With social gatherings above 25 people being banned through September, students at La Salle are continuing to find ways to cope with the extended quarantine. “I found that getting up and exercising right away brought a significant boost of positivity and energy into my day,” Jenne said.

Summer is quickly approaching and communities are adapting. For instance, Portland will be deploying “park greeters” to enforce social distancing guidelines and inform what areas are open to the public in parks. They have already been deployed and will be for the foreseeable future. 

In-person classes for school are not the only things that have been canceled because of the coronavirus and the additional regulations of Gov. Brown. Sports events, concerts, and festivals like the Bridge Pedal have also been canceled in Portland. In addition, popular activities such as the Rose Festival and spending time by the waterfront will not be possible with the social distancing guidelines. However, next year they will hopefully happen.

As Oregon starts to reopen, students are also expressing their anticipation for the future. “I look forward to spending time close to home and having fun with those I love,” Elkhal said.

Gov. Brown noted in her press conference a few weeks ago that more information must be learned and preventative action taken before other restrictions are lifted. “My framework for Reopening Oregon recognizes a science-driven process that accounts for the needs of Oregon’s community and economy,” she said.

In order for the state to reopen more, there must be better contact tracing, and enough tests for everyone, or a vaccine. The first step to start opening up Oregon is seeing fewer cases and deaths, having the right amount of personal protective equipment, and lastly building a public health framework that will help with the reopening effort. 

Oregon is in phase one of reopening. Restaurants allow people to eat on-site if they follow the social distancing guidelines. Personal care services such as hair, nail, and fitness businesses are allowing customers as long as they follow the phase one rules. The last part of phase one is that a limit of 25 people are able to gather.

As Oregon starts to reopen slowly, it is important for people to continue following the social distancing guidelines and precautions. “I think the most important thing to remember is that we aren’t alone in this and no matter what occurs in the upcoming school year, we will be able to face it [strongly] together as a Lasallian family,” said Jenne.