Covid-19 diary: A senior on losing the last of her high school days


Courtesy Ashlyn Lugenbeel

Ashlyn Lugenbeel is a high school senior.

The last day of high school is a dream day for students 12 years in the making; the seniors at Hough High School never expected to reach that day so soon. Ashlyn Lugenbeel, a 17 year old senior at Hough had her last day on March 13, as her school went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While her fellow students are working on projects and papers, Lugenbeel and other seniors have had their grades frozen in place, and will not be given any new assignments. With this news came the end of her high school experience, and the realization that this pandemic is changing everything. In order to help document this seismic shift in her life, Ashlyn  agreed to answer a series of questions, posed by me, her brother. This was done over a two week span, and taken together they form a journal of sorts that paints a picture of her thoughts and experiences. 

“I remember seeing stuff on social media about the outbreak in China.  I didn’t really think much of it because it wasn’t presented as this dangerous thing that could spread. It began to feel real when it started spreading to the US, and I slowly started knowing people who knew people that had it, or  knew of people who had it. It felt weird going out into public.  I started, for the first time,  seeing people in masks before the CDC recommended it” Ashlyn said. 

Isolation can be hard on anyone, but possibly more so on a young woman cut off from her friends and unsure if she will even have her freshman year at Appalachian State in the fall. 

“I had my breaking point. I wanted to make muffins with chocolate chips, but I only had  two tablespoons of chocolate chips. So I fixed the recipe, which ended up being about like a muffin and a half or like two muffins, two small muffins. The recipe called for an egg. So, I had to split an egg into eighths. I feel like measuring out that eighth of an egg…it was kind of my breaking point,” Ashlyn said. “Just  not being able to do anything and get out and see my friends and everything completely changed. I didn’t have school, I didn’t have soccer, I can’t even leave the house. So just like everything became too much and I normally bake to calm myself down, but this was  chaotic baking.” 

Being stuck in place, Ashlyn has had more time to fully take in her surroundings. 

There’s a lot of little kids because we live near an elementary school. People will wave, but we don’t  interact with our neighbors. We don’t have them over anything. There’s no neighborhood get-togethers or anything like that, before the pandemic I mean.  I actually have no idea how big the neighborhood is but there’s like a lot of ones that connect. Although there is a drastic like change between our neighborhood and the ones in the back. There is definitely a big wealth gap,” Ashlyn said. 

However, things were not all negative for Ashlyn; she was able to find things to give her hope in this strange time. 

“ I saw on social media that people were going out when the health care workers were going to work or coming home and they were clapping for them. I think that’s really cool. Also, the Rio de Janeiro statue, they decorated it with a lab coat for the doctors and that was really cute,” Ashlyn said.