Hailey Webber, ’23
I wake up one morning and head off to school just like any other day. Halfway through my day, I am in French class watching the governor give a speech about some “sickness-thing” that I didn’t know the name of. The next day, no more going to school. Just a week or so from now will mark the one-year anniversary of the start of my fully remote learning.
I, like most others, have spent most of the last year at home doing school and binge-watching Netflix or my favorite movies to keep me happy. Some days have been better than others; some I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel we call COVID-19, whereas other days leave me feeling downright sad and upset.
But I have learned a lot about myself over the last year. I have learned that my family can help me get through seemingly anything, including losing my grandfather right before the start of a worldwide pandemic. This happened almost a year ago, and not a day goes by where I don’t think about him and my grandma. They live in Canada, so my family hasn’t been able to go see my grandma to make sure she’s okay since the beginning of the pandemic. Even with the tears that come with writing about this, I know that I’m never alone (even when I want to be) because I always have my two sisters by my side and my parents looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m alright.
I also learned that I love music; singing and playing my guitar has given me so much joy during this time. Pandemic life feels like you’re fighting a war against an invisible enemy. You have to be safe, try and stay one step ahead of the others, and keep morale up. One of the main reasons why I haven’t gone insane yet is because of my camp. It’s my family’s own little piece of heaven 45 minutes away from our house, where we have a private beach, golf cart rides, constant swimming and paddleboarding, and campfires that last until the wee hours of the morning. My family and I spent almost every day up there last summer, and we couldn’t have been more thankful to have had a place to pack everything up and to go to for relaxation and fun times in the sun.
Although the pandemic has been one of the absolute worst things I’ve ever experienced, a positive I can take away from it is understanding myself more and being able to identify the little things that keep me happy in life.
Quinn Ridzi, ’23
Looking back, it is hard to understand how quickly the pandemic has gone from an outbreak to a year-long conflict. We can all unanimously agree that the pandemic had a profound effect on life as we knew it and it has affected all of us for better and for worse.
Over the past year, I felt frequently tired and bored, frequently spending months in isolation and waiting until restrictions were eased. Then, the cycle continued for a year. I wanted to travel, but we were banned from leaving other states and even the country. It was hard to find comfort at home after staying there for over a year.
While the pandemic was terrible, I felt that it had also helped to improve me. I learned more ways to pass time and became a faster typer than I probably would have if I had remained with traditional schooling and summer vacation. I also got a dog and trees to plant in the backyard that helped me pass the time.
Looking back, I felt that if I had known that the pandemic was coming, I would have made better plans on how to spend time during the long months of the pandemic. I also admit that I would have also traveled the world and gone on more vacations.
Audrey Harkaway, ’23
What began as an extra week off from school, the pandemic has turned into a year of stress, remote learning, masks, and worst of all, the loss and sickness of many family members and peers.
During the “prime time” of cases, I stayed home and didn’t see any of my friends or immediate family for just about three months. As an extrovert, my anxiety was caused more by not being able to communicate in person, let alone hug my friends and family, than by the scare of COVID-19 itself. As time went on and cases went down, what seemed like an unspoken agreement was made that it was okay to start seeing people again, but to be careful about the numbers of people, etc. During the summer, I remember feeling more at ease and less worried about extracting the virus or giving it to others. I was allowed to see certain people as the cases were going down. I got a job over the summer and had to learn how to keep sane with a mask on for six hours a day. Once school started back up in September, a sudden uprise of reported cases occurred, and the worry that quarantine would happen again caused an uproar of panic. Wearing a mask every day at school at the beginning of the school year made me anxious and on certain days, was unbearable. It is saddening to say how used to wearing a mask I am now, bringing one everywhere I go.
COVID-19 affected all of us differently. For me, I wasn’t able to have an outdoor track season, travel to see my family, attend summer camp or go to school in person. On a more positive note, I took the time to try a new media in art, start a workout plan, and self-reflect. Although there was an unnecessary amount of craze, the unexpected and unwanted COVID-19 pandemic has brought people together metaphorically, of course, over the course of 2020 to create change and work together in a time of need.
Abigail Stephens, ’23
It was this time last year when COVID-19 first hit in the United States. We had no idea how many people would die. Schools had no idea what they were going to do. Everyone was just lost and scared. People started buying so much food and toilet paper that they had to put restrictions on how much you could buy per person.
That was only the beginning. As the coronavirus spread, the hospitals kept getting more and more infected patients. It got so bad that the hospitals couldn’t take any more patients in. They were at full capacity. As the death toll kept going up, they had no where to put the bodies, so they put them in refrigerated trucks that were parked outside the hospital.
Funerals weren’t the same as they used to be. My step grandma passed away in October in my grandpa and her house. My grandpa called someone to come and pick her body up, and once they came, they immediately left because she died of COVID-19 and they didn’t want to get infected. So they came back, but this time wore hazmat suits. They zipped her up in a body bag and took her away. Her funeral was that next weekend. It wasn’t an open casket. We showed up at the cemetery and watched her get lowered into the ground. There were no religious things said. My uncle couldn’t even see his mom’s face again. I wouldn’t call it a funeral, it was more like a burial. Everything about that funeral/burial was wrong.
It made me question when this pandemic was going to end. Will they come out with better vaccines? Will there be enough for everyone? Now there are new variants of the coronavirus, and some of the vaccines help, but some don’t really help at all. People are celebrating because they think it’ll all go away now that we have vaccines. That’s not how it’s going to happen though. We are probably going to need to wear masks for a few more years or more. This pandemic is far from over.
Nicole Meskos, ’23
If you told me last year that the end of my freshman year would be cut short due to a pandemic, I would have laughed. I think everyone would have. As a proud introvert, I didn’t mind all of that time alone to watch TV, try new recipes and crafts, and go on walks. It was nice to take a step back and evaluate my life. What friends did I want to make an effort to keep in touch with? What do I want to spend my free time doing, scrolling on my phone or bettering myself?
One positive effect of quarantine was I learned how to take better care of myself. I started working out, doing things that made me happy, and learning how to cook and eat healthy. I was happy to have some time to myself to work on those important skills.
Lockdown also drew my attention to the old sewing machine in our basement. It was my sister’s from many Christmases ago, and I decided to see what I could do with it. After many tutorials on YouTube and fooling around with the machine, I got it to work. Nothing I made was impressive, but I had a great time living out my fashion designer dreams. My grandma used to work as a seamstress, so I got to bond with her over sewing. She taught me new techniques and supplied me with endless thread, fabric and needles. Every week she would give me impromptu sewing lessons that I am very grateful for. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, that old sewing machine would have laid there untouched, but I put it to good use and was able to connect with my grandma. It made the both of us very happy.