Little Current high school student’s song strikes a COVID-19 chord

Mackenzie Cortes performs her original song ‘Graduating Without Graduation.’

LITTLE CURRENT – Like so many other high school students across the globe, Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) student Mackenzie Cortes of Little Current is facing down the disappointment of graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic—with no graduation ceremony and no prom to celebrate one of life’s major milestones. 

Mackenzie channeled her feelings into rhyme, creating a song that has struck a chord with many in her cohort. But there are few so old as to not recall the rite of passage that is high school graduation and all of us share the impact of isolation brought on by the pandemic.

Much to her surprise, Mackenzie’s song wound up being featured on the Northern Ontario CTV broadcast.

“I have been wanting to write a song for a long time,” shared Mackenzie. “Up until now it has just been the first line or two, this is the first full song I have written.”

When she learned about a CTV initiative to have graduating students post photos of themselves to the station’s website, the MSS student decided to tape herself singing the song while accompanying herself on the keyboard for submission.

“I thought they might put it up on their website,” she said. “But then I got a call that they wanted to feature the song after the news. It was just a 30 second clip, but it was pretty cool to see myself on television.”

The full song runs to three minutes and 45 seconds in its entirety and her performance can be found online at the Northern Ontario CTV website and Facebook page.

Mackenzie said that the feedback she has been receiving from her friends and peers has been universally positive. “Lots of my friends have been texting me about how cool the song is,” she said, adding with a laugh “at least no one has told me they didn’t like it.”

Mackenzie intends to pursue a career in the medical radiological sciences and will be working at Manitoulin Centennial Manor this summer, but she will always have her music to fall back on if she needs to. As readers can judge for themselves, this isn’t simply an ode to angst, but echoes vibrantly with the hopes, dreams and gratitude of a forward looking eye.

‘Graduating Without Graduation’

Two, zero, two, zero, what a hell of a year, 

We’ve been through so much that’s gotten us here.

Cancellations and classes online from your room,

It’s hard to learn chemistry from your laptop on Zoom.

(Verse 1) Staying up late and sleeping in,

When did all of this vivid dreaming begin?

I sleep all the time and eat even more,

I should probably go outside or just open the door.

But I can’t leave my home and I can’t see my friends.

When will this quarantine come to an end?

Days pass me by, I can’t tell them apart.

I need to find another new hobby to start.

But motivation is low and the wifi is slow,

Where did my old productivity go?

And to top it all off for my senior year, 

Graduation and prom have decided to disappear.


Cuz I’m graduating without graduation

I’ll receive my diploma in my imagination

I won’t get to walk the stage,

Or shake hands and smile as I pose for the front page

And you won’t see me in my gown,

Or throwing my cap up as I watch it hit the ground.

I know there are people who have it much worse,

But the class of 2020 is kind of cursed.

(Verse 2)

Maybe sleeping in isn’t really so bad,

It’s a nice little break from the year that we’ve had.

And I have to admit that I really like food,

Eating four different lunches is kind of a mood.

So I don’t have to pay three whole dollars for chips,

I can walk up to my fridge and make my own dip.

There’s also more time to exercise,

And my schedule has room for things that I decide.

And thank the Lord for video chat,

Cuz if it didn’t exist, well we wouldn’t want that.

But I still can’t dress up in my brand new prom dress,

Instead I’ll be at home in my sweat pants and

    who the hell am I trying to impress?

(Repeat chorus).

(Bridge) I’d like to take a minute to thank everyone,

Who’s working on the front lines and getting the job done.

Thank you grocery workers and medical staff,

You’re the heroes of today and I’d like an autograph 

For risking your health and doing your best,

You’re the ones who stay strong when put to the test.

And thank you to the people on the suicide hotlines,

You’re doing such important work from the mental health 


And thank you to everyone staying at home,

Make sure to remember that you’re never alone.


 “Although all the graduates might be cursed, 

We have to remember that there are people who have it so 

much worse.”