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Sheltered-at-home high school seniors connect through California Class of 2020 project

A screenshot of the pinned tweet from the California Class of 2020 project.
A screenshot of the pinned tweet from the California Class of 2020 project.
(Courtesy of the California Class of 2020)

Communities across the country have found alternative ways of connecting with one another during social-distancing times — car parades, sidewalk chalkboard drawings, video-chat Passover celebrations.

Now, a group of high school students from throughout the state have come together under the virtual California Class of 2020 project to connect while they miss out on traditional end-of-year celebrations.

Angelo Vitug, a Providence High School senior, is one of the 200 Associated Student Body, or ASB, presidents planning virtual senior activities through multiple social-media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok.

The project, launched last month, has already hosted virtual online bingo, spirit week and livestream competitions between high school seniors in Northern and Southern California.

They are currently putting together a virtual talent show, gaming tournaments and videos to honor student athletes whose playing seasons were canceled.

“At Providence, we believe that connection and relationships are critical in ‘normal’ times, and even more so now as we are physically separated from each other,” Scott McLarty, head of school at Providence, stated in his message to families announcing the high school campus’ closure through the end of the academic year.

School officials from Providence High, along with public school districts in Burbank and Glendale, are planning ways to celebrate graduations and other activities previously scheduled for May as Los Angeles County officials suggest stay-at-home restrictions could remain into the summer.

“It’s giving a lot of seniors anxiety and sadness that they can’t partake in these activities. So this group of seniors [is] working to — not match those experiences like prom and graduation — but host activities that will allow them to have fun,” Vitug said.

Vitug went to a leadership camp last summer and met ASB presidents from California high schools. He saw the project’s account pop up in their Instagram stories and started talking to the creator of the project, Luis Esteva Sueiro, a Sonoma Valley High School senior.

“I came across the account @azclassof2020, the Arizona variant of our account and, after getting in touch with its leaders, I thought it was a great mission that should be brought to California,” Sueiro said.

“So, I then reached out to my friends... to help me spread the word and get the project going,” he added.

Vitug is part of the outreach and new-ideas committees for the project. He takes part in spreading the word and coming up with creative virtual events.

“We want every senior to hear about the project and know that everyone is suffering in some of the same ways... to make sure that everyone knows that they have the opportunity to reach out to other seniors,” he said.

Vitug is helping plan the senior-mate program. A play on the word soulmate, it’s a program that allows a senior from California to match with another senior who might be going to the same college.

Students who would like to participate and be added to private group chats used to organize events can send a direct message on any of the project’s social-media accounts.

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