Olivia Lemondes, ’23

From not having school or being able to see family, this year has been one of the weirdest so far. 

March 16 was an exciting day that I never thought would actually end up making history. I joked that it was our last day of school, not actually believing it until a year later I realized that it was my last normal day of freshman year. Isolation with my family definitely made me grateful for school and the freedom of being able to see my friends everyday. 

I learned a lot this year. It was definitely a life-changing one. True friends were made and new hobbies were created, especially baking. I was on a baking roll finding new recipes everyday and wanting to try them. I wanted to take advantage of this two-week break we were just surprisingly granted. It wasn’t until day 100 of isolation that I realized things were actually very different and we weren’t going back to normal anytime soon. This pandemic that was announced by the government wouldn’t just be over in a month or two. Who knew a year later we would still be struggling with COVID-19? 

Not being able to travel or see any extended family was something I had to get used to. I learned that I really like the airport and I truly missed it. Luckily, I was able to go to Florida in February right before we went into lockdown. Since that trip, everything became real. Joking about this mysterious virus became a reality and wearing a mask was actually a thing. Going into the grocery store was now an adventure and one of the scariest things ever. To believe so much has happened in only one year is hard to comprehend. 

Not being able to play sports and having seasons stolen from me was something I had never even believed would be possible. The only sport I did last year was indoor track in order to get me ready for outdoor track which didn’t end up happening. I didn’t do a fall sport because I didn’t even think I wouldn’t get a spring season. Not being able to say goodbye to seniors or only having a brief season with some of the greatest people ever is plain sad. At least I have the next three years of high school to get more seasons in and make new friends. Getting the notification from Syracuse.com that some fall sports were allowed to have a season was some of the greatest news I had had in a long time. Who knew I would be so excited about a cross-country season being able to start, especially since I had never participated before? I was not the long distance type, but getting any sign of a sport was enough of a push for me. 

The biggest thing I learned this year was that times of nothing make you understand the world around you. It brought the world into perspective and made me realize the reality of how quickly the normal can change.

Casey Sullivan, ’23

When COVID-19 struck and put everyone in lockdown, it was difficult to adapt to these new ways of living. The closings of schools and workplaces meant I had more free time than I was used to and I was constantly at home with my family. At this time, I felt hopeless. Yesterday, I was going to school and visiting my friends, and now I was trapped inside my house with no idea how long it all would last. There was a sense of guilt when I continuously sat at my house with no busy schedule; I was inexperienced with this new sense of freedom. I often asked myself what I could do to better myself with this extra time I was given. I took it upon myself to discover new hobbies and activities that I enjoyed to pass the time. I tried things like running, painting, learning a new language, and riding a bike. However, time continued to pass and, before I knew it, it was the end of the summer. I was unable to do everything that I had been looking forward to. It felt like a waste to even call that a summer vacation. The weather was always so beautiful, but I couldn’t go anywhere past my lawn. It was like I was under house arrest. 

However, there were some positive things that came out of this experience. I grew closer with my family and found new things to do with my friends that didn’t require us to be in person. I came closer to finding out who I was as a person and I was able to take many steps towards loving myself. Although there were many dark days and there will continue to be many more, there’s a saying that goes “night is always darkest before dawn.” We may stumble and fall down. We may become tired and lose our path. It may feel as if everything will always be hopeless, but we must remember that after every winter, there is a spring; after every storm, there are blue skies; after every night, there is morning. Our lives work this way as well. No matter how bad it may get, no matter how hopeless everything may seem, the pain we face now will soon turn into happiness.

Mannat Mahal, ’24

Groundhog day seems like a nice movie,
Living in it is not.
Getting up in the morning seems like a hassle.
The first half of the day is spent revolving around screens and black squares that you do not want to communicate with.          
The other half is spent writing and typing on meaningless pieces of paper.
Night is the only time when you get to finally relax.
You get comfortable in your bed and get Netflix set up.
Until you realize you have to write an essay.
It’s due at 11:59pm.
Forget Netflix, you’re living in your very own horror movie.
You finish the essay right in time.
You’re exhausted. 
You go to bed.
When you wake up,
Getting up in the morning seems like a hassle.

Ali Mobeen, ’23

I think that one of the best things to come out of the pandemic was the shared sense of community I found within J-D. I can think of only a few times with such mutual care and concern for the wellbeing of others. While the circumstances leading to this are unfortunate, I commend all the teachers, staff, students, and essential workers for their bravery and perseverance in helping the students of the community. In my personal life, I think that last year’s quarantine brought me closer to the ones I love, and made me appreciate their presence in my life more than ever. From hour-long phone calls to Zoom birthday parties, our pursuit of maintaining connections with others is a testament to the strength of the bonds we hold with one another. Looking forward, these connections in our communities will only grow stronger as we move past the pandemic, and hopefully into a post-pandemic world. 

Joanna Cooper, ’23

Though the coronavirus obviously brought extreme negatives, there are some personal positives that came out of quarantine. Especially in the beginning, I was in my room for the majority of the time. I had to make do with what I had, so I returned to some old hobbies such as playing piano and drawing, and picked up a few new ones such as playing guitar and jewelry-making. I also became more connected to others, and even to myself. I spent much more time with my parents obviously, and I started to connect to myself through different activities. As well as Zooming with my family, I started calling my friends much more. This honestly brought us closer because we weren’t together all the time, but we were able to talk whenever we wanted. It also gave me another look on life; that I don’t need other people in order to be okay myself. I could be alone with myself and my thoughts, and that was fine. On occasion when I was able to go out with my friends, it taught me how to be safe, responsible, and cautious. Throughout all of this, I have definitely grown as a friend, family member, and person.

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