PHOTO: Ryan Layman and Sean Layman take their first day of school pictures in the same spot every year. Photos courtesy of Rob Layman.
By Lyah Fitzpatrick,
Every year on the first day of school, senior Elizabeth Young wraps her arms around her younger sister Helena for a photograph. Beneath a cherry blossom tree, the sisters stood and smiled for six consecutive years. But this year, something was off.
“I felt like dressing up was suitable for an occasion that was not online class,” Young said. Unlike past years, Young donned old clothing and didn’t carry out a full freshening routine for her first day. Her family also used a “really, really old camera” this year instead of a fancy one.
Young was not the only senior whose final first day photo differed from tradition. This year, Valdy Ngassam took his photographs at home rather than at school. Brothers Ryan and Sean Layman have not taken their yearly photo yet, but their backpacks will not make an appearance this time around.
However, this year’s alterations do not diminish the value of first day of school photographs.
“We like to see the boys’ growth each year as they progress, as they get older,” said Rob Layman, father of Ryan and Sean.
Young also appreciates the sentimental value of the pictures.
“When I’m older and look back [I’ll be] like, ‘Oh yeah, that happened, and there’s me and there’s Helena,’” Young said.
But, for some seniors, the picture taking can be a chore– and a bore.
“I think it’s more for my parents,” Young said. While Young made clear her dislike for the photo shoot, Ngassam “doesn’t necessarily enjoy it […] it’s just kinda something normal.”
First day of school pictures are just another representation of the effects of COVID-19. When Young, Ngassam and Layman look back at the line of photographs, the senior picture will stand out due to virtual school.