SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) – After the mass destruction from the tornadoes in Shawnee, senior students at Oklahoma Baptist University are expressing their sadness as their final weeks of school are coming to an end. Their college experience has been far from normal with the pandemic and now tornado damage keeping them out of the classroom.
Seniors ended their freshman year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which rolled into their sophomore year as well. Now their senior year is possibly getting cut short again.
“We’re just kind of confused and disappointed about what the next month is going to look like,” said Grace Morrison, senior at OBU.
Several students on campus are expressing their disappointment after they say they feel they’ve been robbed of their college experience.
“It is really sad that we don’t get to live our college experience like the rest of the state and the rest of our country. But I’m still grateful, I wouldn’t change anything. I still would have chosen OBU, even if I would have known and so even though it’s really hard right now, we’re grateful,” said MacKenzie Knox, senior at OBU.
COVID-19 interfeering their freshman and sophomore year, and now with just a few more weeks of school left, the possibility of in-person classes seems slim.
“So it’s just I know there’s a lot of frustration, but I’m hopeful,” said Morrison.
Morrison is also sad most of her friends left campus already.
“My friends don’t even know when they’re going to be able to come back,” said Morrison.
One senior is making the most of the situation.
“We’ve tried to have fun where we can. There’s some of us who went over to our friend’s house last night with candles and flashlights and playing cards and board games,” said Evan Kennemer, senior at OBU.
As for graduation Kennemer said, “It will be pretty disappointing if we have to go back to Zoom classes… It’s not the end of the world. If the best part of my college experience is walking across the stage, I don’t do college right.”
Oklahoma Baptist University President Dr. Heath A. Thomas told KFOR quote, “Our seniors, especially, are incredible and they have gone through a lot and of course no one can prepare themselves for natural disasters like we’ve experienced in the past few years. This is what I do know though, there is a law that we like to follow here on Bison Hill and that is the law of resiliency. Life is hard so we need to learn to be resilient and respond and if anybody encapsulates that law of life, it’s our seniors. So, whatever comes in front of them, they’ll be resilient and press through. We believe in them.”
Student body president Max Petersen is a junior but said he empathizes with the seniors feeling their college experience was far from normal.
“It’s a really it’s a testament to our resiliency. You can’t teach this kind of thing in school. And so, I think, yes, while the experience, your classic college experience has been interrupted, mine has been too, there’s a lot of virtue, a lot of perseverance to be taught throughout it all,” said Max Petersen, student body president at OBU.
KFOR reached out to Shawnee Public School’s regarding seniors at the high school.
“We are still assessing how we can finish the school year and make it memorable for students, especially our seniors. There are still substantial power outages in the city so we will continue to monitor the situation. We hope to return to in person classes with any campus where that is feasible. It is likely we will have to pivot to distance learning at some point next week to ensure we meet the state requirements related to instructional time. I met with Senior Class sponsors today to discuss graduation and various activities for seniors around that time. We intend to give these seniors all of the traditional experiences possible. We will continue to update everyone as information becomes available”Superintendent Dr. April Grace