By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Instead of wearing her black cap and gown with a golden sash last Thursday, Millington Central High School senior Lanette Carbajal-Travis was sporting a red vest in blue trim with her name tag.
Looking forward to May 14, 2020 since she stepped foot on the MCHS campus back in 2016, Lanette’s dream date started to be jeopardize March 13 when schools across the state and nation closed at the start of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
As the days march along and the number of infected increased, deaths started to pile up, Lanette and her peers across the United States started to come to accepting there would be no graduation.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” she said. “But things happen. It’s life.”
The senior started to put thing in a proper prospective while still hoping to have a graduation ceremony. News came down in early May that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee put regulation on potential commencement activities.
The staff at MCHS came up with a date and a plan give the Class of 2020 their day under the lights. Now May 29 is the day Lanette and her classmates will have an official goodbye to Millington Central High School.
“I’m sad because I don’t get to graduate with my whole class but I am glad we actually get to do something,” Travis acknowledged. “I’m actually in the last group. So I might try to sneak into the first one, say I’m with the yearbook or get a media pass. That would be good.”
The 2020 MCHS Commencement will be split into two commencements with the first group taking to the field at 5 p.m., students with a last name between A-K.
Then at 7:15 p.m., children with last names L-Z will graduate. Both observances will be in accordance with the social distancing guidelines set forth by the Tennessee Department of Education.
Each senior was given four tickets with Lanette’s first two going to her parents Zamira and Matthew.
“I’m just going to enjoy it with my family,” she said. “My grandparents are going to come down and be there. I’m just going to try to enjoy it.”
With plans to enjoy the ceremony with her grandparents in attendance, Lanette is going to make the most of the moment with her classmates.
While at MCHS she earned a achievement of National Honor Society. She was a member of Pep Club and HOSA. She plans to do a year of community college at Dyersburg State being a part of a military family.
But from day one as a high school student, Lanette was a member of the Millington Lady Trojan Soccer team. She was a four-year letterman as a goalie.
Her efforts in front of the net in 2019 helped the Lady Trojans enjoy the best season in program history. Millington finished second in the district earning a Regional spot for the first time in school history. Lanette said she is proud to share the record books with Natalie Yearwood, Deana Becerra, Angelica Alaniz, Destiny Jones, Alexis Jordan, Harmonie Jackson, Cally Chalker, Izzy Murphy, Micaiah Halliburton, Tess Cook, Koreena Bedford, Alexis Halliburton, Alex Gordon, Kortney Tinkey, Kinverlin Mesinos, Jelizeth Cuevas, Angela Calva, Alexis Thompson, Kalia Duckworth and Lizzy Vasquez, coaches Rosemary Boswell and Craig Malloy and managers Andres Garcia and Kenji White.
Graduating during a pandemic, Lanette shares a moment in history with all the Class of 2020 on all levels.
“When it got closer I was like, ‘Man we really might not go back to school,” she recalled. “’No prom, no graduation, no senior week events. This might really happen.’ All the schools started closing as an effect of the COVID-19. I was a little worried about it.”
Her fears have transformed into reflection. Lanette said the worst part of the pandemic was losing a huge portion of her senior year.
“Enjoying my senior year, this did rob it,” she acknowledged. “I don’t get to say my last goodbyes to my teachers. I can Zoom call but it’s not the same thing especially with friends. I wanted to say goodbye to the last four years of my school.”
But having a graduating is a saving grace. And the soon-to-be MCHS graduate said the best part of the pandemic is making quality time with those you love.
“Spending more time with my family,” she concluded, “this has really opened my eyes to life is short so you have to hold on to it.”