Editor’s Note: This article is part of BeaverCountian.com’s ongoing series, “The Beaver County Coronavirus Chronicles,” the county’s historical experience of the pandemic. Click here to see more of the series.
This was supposed to be Mason Hedge’s big senior year.
His last time on Freedom Area High School’s musical theater stage. His last prom. His final walk to the school’s alma mater as he accepted his diploma.
Instead, Hedge, 18, of Freedom is sitting at home, looking at scholarship applications, shooting some hoops, thinking about where he might study musical theater performance in college, exercising on the treadmill, and messaging with friends.
“I gotta keep my mind busy or I’ll die from boredom,” he said. The activity could also keep his mind off his disappointment.
Tonight, Hedge was set take the stage as the male lead Seymour in Freedom’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
He and the cast, directors, stage crew and orchestra members had been hard at work nearly every day since mid-January on the show. Freedom Area is known for putting on top-notch performances, and Hedge had been in the prior five as well.
When school districts first closed schools, the show was postponed. When districts were forced to close longer, the show was canceled.
“It kinda took a blow on me,” Hedge said of getting the news. “My heart just sank. It was my final musical and I was gonna go out with a bang. … It really hit me.”
Hedge said his director hopes to find a way to put on the performance in the summer, if things get better. “But for me, it’s not going to be the same,” he said.
Prom hasn’t been canceled yet, Hedge said. It’s scheduled for May 8 and “promposals” and dress buying have already started, so kids are crossing their fingers.
On Monday, Freedom will begin online instruction and Hedge doesn’t know exactly what that will be like yet. But his school day will be from 10-2, broken up into four blocks each day and including personal learning time he must track, as well as some class video conferencing.
He’s also working online now with fellow members of the school’s newspaper at fhs-press.com. They’re planning to put their next monthly print edition in school lunches being provided to students for pickup at three locations.
Hedge is still hoping that classes may resume, and he doesn’t want to think about graduation possibly being canceled.
“It’s kind of scary,” Hedge said. “I definitely want to walk that stage. I definitely want the recognition. I don’t want to think about it yet. … It would be devastating.”
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