The Class of 2020 didn’t waste time self-pitying. After mourning with their roommates, meeting up with clubs, and calling their parents, they wiped their tears and got moving. They were going to make the impossible possible. They were going to squeeze the last eight weeks of college into five days.
“People just started running out, buying a ton of alcohol, getting Pino’s. Everyone was running left and right. The world was ending,” said Claire Wilson, LSOE ‘20. “It was so chaotic that you didn’t even have time to think about how sad and scary everything was.”
In the wake of the initial blow, all they could do was grab their drinks and friends and head to the Mods. But after that first night of partying (Wilson called it an “apocalyptic tailgate”), they started to plan.
The following four days were a booze-fueled whirlwind of seniors trying to make as many memories with as many friends as possible while checking off a floor-length list of “lasts.”
And to their surprise, they pulled it off.
The night before his Mod wedding, Kieran Harrington, MCAS ‘20, proposed to his friend Mary Holt, MCAS ‘20, with a Ring Pop at Mary Ann’s.
An indispensable part of Senior Week, the fake weddings are a celebration of friendship. Some were “shotgun weddings” that lasted all of five minutes. Others, like one senior’s Sonny-and-Cher-themed ceremony, were more elaborate and well attended.
Harrington wore a rainbow jumpsuit to his, and his bride, a toilet paper gown.
“There were gay weddings, straight weddings, there were gay men marrying straight women. And I think the best part is that you can go as far as you want with it,” he said.
“The song I walked down to was ‘I Came Here For Love’ by Grant Richards. That was my personal anthem for the whole five days. And the song kind of speaks to what I came to BC for, not romantic love but just the intimate relationships that you form over the four years,” said Harrington.
Another Senior Week tradition, dorm walks, gave seniors a chance to share memories and a drink with the underclassmen who now occupy their old rooms.
Harrington revisited his freshman year stomping grounds on Newton Campus with his Keyes Hall floormates.
“We all took the Newton bus over together. We were singing and catching up and looking back on our freshman year memories,” he said. “I went to my old room, 206, and got to talk to the girls there. They were super sweet.”
Claire Wilson also took a break from partying to stop by her old double on Newton Campus. She was surprised to find the freshmen who lived there packing in silence.
“One thing I’ve noticed about senior year is that you’re in your own world. It’s all about the Mods and being 21 and the senior class,” she said. “You’re just so wrapped up in it that when you talk to someone who’s not a senior, you feel so disconnected. Your identity is so removed from the other classes and I really didn’t understand it until then.”
“It’s a stupid game of who has it worst. And when you all have it bad, you don’t need to play that game,” said Wilson.
Everyone had something they were looking forward to that was unceremoniously canceled.
“I think a lot of people, when school was canceled, had something that they felt like, ‘Wow, that’s never going to come to fruition,’” said Elizabeth Coughlin, MCAS ‘20. For her, it was Showdown.
Coughlin was on Phaymus, one of BC’s myriad of dance teams. She and her teammates were crushed by the thought that their long hours practicing for the annual dance competition in Conte Forum might have been for nothing.
But another dance group, Synergy, acted quickly to organize an impromptu showcase. Texts were sent, speakers were borrowed, and dancers arrived at their “stage,” the lawn in front of 2150, at dusk to a crowd of cheering students.
“There were so many moving parts that at any point, it would have made so much sense if we got a text that said, ‘You know what, it seems too hard for all the dance teams to come together right now. Let’s just leave it,’” Coughlin said. “But no. Everyone pressed so hard to find any space, any time that would work.”
Just like Coughlin, Wilson didn’t want to graduate without performing one last time with her improv comedy troupe, My Mother’s Fleabag.
Although some members were wary of doing a show with such little preparation, Wilson convinced them. It’s improv, she insisted: They were always ready.
“It was so fun. We did it kind of drunk and took a shot in the middle of it,” Wilson said. “It was really fun to have some kind of closure with seniors you’ve gone through so much with. I never thought I’d be in my Fleabag shirt laughing and crying as people watch through the windows of a Mod.”
Some groups couldn’t wrap up exactly the way Phaymus or Fleabag did. For Harrington’s sketch comedy group Hello… Shovelhead!, a last-minute performance just wasn’t in the cards. But they found closure in other ways.
On Thursday, the group left campus to hold their semesterly retreat overnight, one that would usually last an entire weekend.
“It’s really hard to see the four years you’ve put into a group just crumble before you get the chance to finish out how you were meant to,” said Harrington, who is the group’s director. “So I was more than willing to sacrifice one of my nights for Shovelhead. I wouldn’t even call it a sacrifice when you’re with the people that give you as much energy as they take away.”
Seniors were even able to throw together a makeshift Marathon Monday (on Tuesday) for those who had been training to run on April 20. The runners jogged from Main Gate down to St. Ignatius while their friends cheered from the sidewalk with signs.
By the time their final night rolled around, Harrington said, the seniors had fit in as much as they physically, mentally, and spiritually could.
“It was very tiring, emotionally draining. People are crying everywhere but also having the best time and dancing and singing together. It’s a big mix of emotions.”
After a long night of partying or reminiscing or having long, tearful talks—but definitely not sleeping—things slowed down in the small hours of Sunday, March 15 as the seniors made their way towards the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
Harrington and his roommate Aidan Fitzpatrick, CSOM ’20, had a semester-long ritual of going to Dunkin’ Donuts together. At 5:30 a.m., he got a familiar text: “dunkies?” They waited for the store to open, grabbed coffees and hash browns, and headed to the reservoir together.
“I walked down holding White Claws,” Wilson said. “Some people were drunk, some were dead sober. We were all just kind of sitting out there. It was one of the more calming parts of Senior Week.”
“My favorite visual of the whole entire experience was walking to the reservoir and seeing just hundreds of seniors all sitting there hugging each other and crying with each other,” said Harrington. “We were sitting there as a whole grade for probably 30 to 45 minutes, just taking it all in.”
And then, in the light of dawn, the seniors gave their last hugs and started to leave. Normally, the hours after senior sunrise would be filled with nursing hangovers, putting on caps and gowns, and joining 2,500 classmates in Alumni Stadium. Instead, they nursed hangovers, put their things in boxes, and rushed to catch flights.
This year’s Senior Week was unusual for the obvious reasons: it came in March instead of May, there was no graduation at the end, its backdrop was a global pandemic.
But it was more than that. For once, there was no talk of post-grad plans, no competition. There was a mutual understanding that they were in this together. Those five days, in all of their chaos and uncertainty, brought solidarity and gratitude—maybe more than the Class of 2020 would have seen otherwise.
This article was originally released in May, 2020, as part of our special print edition, “Five Days,” one, final, tribute to the seniors of the Class of 2020. If you would like to view the magazine in its entirety, you can find the entire digital edition published here.