LEARNING HOW TO LOSE: Student and Staff Narratives of Loss, Adjustment and More

The first-person narratives of student and staff struggles during the pandemic year

MAJA KAURIN, Junior, Recovered from COVID-19

I didn’t really tell many people I had the virus because we didn’t tell certain family memes. Wee didn’t want to freak them out. But most of my friends knew. 

It was definitely frustrating, having to watch and not have anything slip while talking to them, but it was kinda nice to have some of my close friends know because quarantine definitely wasn’t fun.

It wasn’t fun knowing you can’t leave, but it wasn’t bad because I did get a lot done. I was able to get things I kept saying I needed to do in the house. I didn’t have symptoms that bad.

I lost my smell, I still can’t smell, even three months later, and I had bad headaches for about 5 days and really bad body aches.

My whole family had it, my dad had it first and then a couple weeks later, my grandpa got it, as well as my mom and sister. We were in quarantine for two weeks, then right after we were clear my grandpa picked it up somewhere and then the three of i got it. So we were basically in quarantine for a month.

The test wasn’t too bad. I’ve had about 6 tests so far, and it’s nothing at this point because I’m used to it.  I wasn’t happy at all that I had to do it at first, but I needed to know so at that point I had no choice but to do it.

I have been elearning since August and still am. I still would have done eLearning because I am always around my grandparents who are high risk. 

Being home and having so much extra time to think, I realized so much. I realized that I needed to start to focus on myself more. So I started to get on my stuff, and only focus on myself and not worry about others.

ALYSSA SANGUEZA, Junior, Mental Health Advocate

I wanted to focus on my mental health because I was really stressed during the school year. But during the lockdown I was able to reconnect with myself, in a sense. To help me improve my mental health I would not go on social media as often I like, go on bike rides around town, and be outside more in general. I think mental health is important because we forget about it and just push it off until we reach our breaking point.

HUNTER CROWLEY, Senior, In-School Student

I’ve always been the kid in the back that never said a word—shy, (I) always said at most three words, if I was lucky. I was very antisocial. In elementary I’d say I had at most 10 friends. And that continued almost all the way throughout sophomore year, until I joined choir in freshman year. My confidence rose up a little bit, and then I joined chorale during sophomore. That was one of the best years of my life because we went to New York that year, and that significantly boosted my confidence and my ability to really believe that I can actually do something great. Then, it was Addams Family that really set the ball rolling in terms of self esteem. It was my first play, ever, and I auditioned, and got the lead role. I was so ecstatic about it. There was almost nothing better than that. It gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of self esteem. One of the best things that ever happened to me, and I gained a bit of a reputation, more than I ever did. 

But it was up until when everything closed down and the start of my senior year, this year, that it sort of went tumbling back down. It was partially because of all the safety stuff, like the shields, the masks and all social distancing, that kind of brought me back to my antisocial self. I want to crawl back out of it, but the guidelines aren’t really helping me all that much with wanting to communicate with other people. That’s leading me to now, where I almost just don’t want to do anything. I know the teachers are trying to make it feel the same and trying to make it the best that it can be. Especially the choir and the theater teachers, they’re trying their best, and I’ve seen it firsthand. They’re really trying, but it just doesn’t feel the same. With the virus and all the safety guidelines, it doesn’t feel like an actual school year anymore.

MS. VALERIE ZEMAITIS, Assistant Principal, SAC Sponsor

When I look at the bare stands at athletic events, I can’t help but miss the cheering students and half-time performances. The pre-recorded theater and musical performances lack the magical element that live events have. I did enjoy the increased amount of outdoor camping trips with my family, but the lack of social connections contributed to the difficulty I had focusing when I was working from home. I continuously needed to find unique ways to keep me focused like more movement breaks. 

I am aware that many people can see something different in the same situation and that I have a choice on which lens I choose to look through.  I have heard this referred to as “perspectacles”; a valuable tool. Choosing to look at this experience through a positive lens has helped me is to have a compassionate heart for myself and others through challenges.

HOLDEN BUCHMEIER, Junior, Frustrated with Isolation

Lack of human contact kind of makes a person go insane. It’s just my parents, my brother and some family members. Same rotation of people gets a bit boring after a while. There’s nothing to do anymore, just sit around, do schoolwork for most of the day. There’s absolutely nothing, it’s just boring. 

I miss just being able to talk face to face with people and have an actual conversation rather than just going on Microsoft Teams all day. Stare at a bunch of faces in boxes. I miss being in public. I miss queuing, just like going to Menards and standing in line, something so simple as that. Or even to get groceries. 

Before the virus I was very anti-social. I never went to any school sports events, none of that. I was part of the debate club but that was just because it’s not an actual conversation really it’s just talking and responding and making an argument which I’ve always been good at. I just never really liked to talk with people. I would never really hang out with anybody after school. Right now, it’s just now I really want any sort of social interaction back.

I’m going absolutely crazy and small social interaction is the only thing preventing me from just completely losing all touch with reality. Before the virus I could show some emotions. I could speak to people but at this point. This point, lying to people seems a bit easier since I haven’t had to talk with them since nobody feels real anymore. Everybody is just, they exist around me at this point that’s what it feels like. 

So be nice to people, try and have conversations, do whatever you can to make somebody stay better, and try to form meaningful relationships with others, especially during the virus to prevent people from going insane. Be a good person. That’s all, try and help others because they probably feel the same way as you do. If you’re in quarantine as well.

MAYA QUEROZ, Junior, Feeling Disconnected

I’m sure others have felt this way, but I’ve realized how disconnected I’ve become from my extended family. I admit that I never really had strong bonds with my cousins or grandparents or aunts and uncles, but because of covid, I feel even less connected. It makes me a little ashamed to admit that because I’ve been distanced from them for so long, the already small amount of emotional connection I had with them has dwindled quite a bit.

MS. CHARITY DAVIS, Teacher of Exceptional Needs, Former Teacher in China, Firsthand Experience

I found out about it in December, and it wasn’t a big deal, because I was living in Beijing. We didn’t really take it seriously, because we were like, “It’s in Wuhan, and Wuhan is probably about a five hour flight.” So, we weren’t too worried about it. We thought it was going to be down there, it hadn’t reached up to where we were. Then, in January, most of my students started leaving, but it was also leading up to Lunar New Year, so I was just like, “Oh, well, my students are just leaving because the Lunar New Year, they’re not getting pulled, because of the virus.” We also would always wear masks out there on bad pollution days, so more people were wearing masks, and it was still clear weather, so I didn’t really think too much of it. 

In the end of January, I was going to the Philippines for Lunar New Year. I was backpacking through there, and a lot more people started talking about it because everybody was on vacation from different countries. They were talking about it and worried about it, and I started getting calls from my school saying, “Hey, we’re gonna extend the holiday break a little while longer.” When I was island hopping, they were starting to take temperature checks. They would take temperature checks before I went into malls or different places. I made sure to wear a mask on the plane to the Philippines, and every time I got on a plane while I was there. Then, I came back and I couldn’t get back into Beijing because they were stopping flights. So whatever I was backpacking with in the Philippines, is what I came back to America with. My whole life is still there. 

When I came back, I had worn a mask and I landed in New York. I remember getting into a taxi car, and because I had my mask on, this guy was like, “Why? Why do you have your mask on? It’s only happening over there.” I just said, “No, it’s not.” I got back Feb. 6, and it’s (already) been a full year that has been bad. I was just like, “You just don’t know how bad it is.” Then, March hits and everything closes down. (By then), I had already experienced it. And, I had to work remotely, so I was teaching my Chinese students from America. It was interesting. None of this, like coming to the school was planned—coming to America was not planned, and I had to build everything back up. 

Me going from traveling, to not traveling at all, it’s just been hard work. Like at the end of the day, it’s just been hard. I love this job, and I love coaching, but I can’t wait to get back to traveling. That is the biggest thing that I miss, because it’s part of me. It sounds cheesy, but there’s so much more that needs to be explored. Having it being cut off completely has been a game changer.

MR. KEVIN CLYNE, English Teacher, A Loss and a Lesson

The most difficult thing is trying to make sure you’re safe without seeming selfish. I don’t want to bring it to them, they don’t want to bring it to me; but how do we keep that from happening in the classroom? But if you ask too many questions, it looks like you’re not a part of the team. And if you don’t ask any questions at all, you might become the victim. One person wrote to me, one of my seniors, and said,“If I had known that March 13 was the last time I was gonna see you Mr. Clyne I would have stayed for much longer after class.” I thought that was a really sweet thing to say but it actually does kind of describe what I miss about teaching.

Personally, what I miss is the freedom. Like you know, I got a day off, I can go to Chicago. No, I can’t, nothing’s open. You know, I got a day off, I’ll go see my girlfriend, no not really, she doesn’t want your covid. It’s all been much harder. When I’m teaching in two places it feels  like I’m playing something really complicated on the piano. Like I’m playing on two different keyboards with two different hands. You know, like I’m playing a duet with myself and it’s all George Gershwin or something you know Rhapsody in Blue on two pianos. It does feel like I’m in two different places doing the same thing with my left hand one with my right hand. It seems really strenuous and kind of silly sometimes. 

For the rest of the year my hope is probably that everybody gets to use all modes of my classroom, at least once. I think I’m doing things significantly differently online, and in class. So I think if there was some way that the people who were at home could come in and see, even just for a day or two. I liked the test days for some strange reason because I actually met people that I’d only known online. And likewise, I think people who have always been in the classroom should have a couple of days where they wake up late and stay at home. Because I think things are significantly different, and experiencing both of them is a good thing.

BRIANA MARTINEZ, Sophomore, Suffering in Self-Evaluation

Covid impacted my family by not allowing my dad to work as much and we had a month where we didnt have enough money to support the family. That was the only hard time other than having to be alone, But this gave me time to work on myself and figure out who I am as a person. This doesn’t mean I also didn’t feel lonely at times when I couldn’t hang out with anyone and I was forced to stay home.  Even though I couldn’t hangout with anyone, being able to see and interact with friends again in school was good and I feel my relationships with others have gotten better than before.  But when this is all sorted out i can’t wait to fully and safely hangout with my friends again.

ANNA SPECKHARD, Senior, Changing Plans

My plans for college have changed a lot. 

Many colleges were not allowing in-person visits. I applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and they weren’t having visits. Neither was Purdue. That kinda made it hard to actually judge which colleges I wanted to go to without actually being there in person. I’m going to Valparaiso University, which is nice because I already had experience on campus. I’m majoring in the physicians assistant program. It’s a five year program instead of the normal six year program.

My junior year, I had my SAT scheduled in the spring, which obviously got cancelled. When they put out more dates that were available, the seats were filled so fast that the site crashed. The only dates that were available were ones two weeks before the Common App was due, which wasn’t really enough time for scores to get in. I ended up not taking any standardized tests. Most colleges said that it didn’t really matter, but it did affect my admissions in Purdue – I got into the exploratory program, but not the nursing program because of that. It was annoying.

The hospital internship that I was planning on taking was cancelled. I had rearranged my entire schedule during sophomore year for it. I had taken Biomed and a few other classes, and in junior year I took Human Body Systems and Anatomy, only to find out that all the work I did in those classes were for nothing because I couldn’t do the internship. It was really frustrating. On top of that, there were two empty class periods because I had already scheduled the hospital internship into my senior schedule. By the time they had cancelled it and notified me, there wasn’t any room in my other class options. I had to take two aide periods. It’s nice to have time to do stuff, but also at the same time I wanted to have taken one more class. From a college admissions standpoint, it looked like I was slacking off a little bit because I didn’t have anything in those slots.

Financials were a big thing. I got really good financial aid from Valpo. I just got my financial aid package from UW Madison, but it was just so much money. It was a good reminder that I was saving a lot by going here instead of out of state.

MS. BRIDGET SPERANZA, Orchestra Teacher, A Strenuous Blessing

I know this is kind of weird to say, but the pandemic coming at the time that it did was almost a little bit of a blessing in my household because I have a very young daughter at home.

I didn’t want to be home all the time, but it meant that I didn’t miss any of her big milestones. She first started crawling in March. Without the stay at home order, she would have done that without me there, while I was teaching. She didn’t start walking until the summer, so I probably would have caught that. But I got to witness her learning all these words and concepts first hand instead of through daycare.

Sleep training my daughter during the early weeks of the pandemic was a big thing for us. In the middle of the two weeks they extended spring break, I remember looking at Mr. Speranza and saying, “well we don’t have to be up early for work, so we might as well start the sleep training process”. 

She was 10 months old then, and she was waking up every four to six hours a night, which wasn’t fun. We went through this program my sister had done. This one we used wasn’t as severe as the “cry-it-out” method, where you let the child cry until they fall asleep. This one was a little nicer – the process involved letting them cry for ten minutes and then going to comfort them, then you leave, then you let them cry again. It took my daughter Lucy two nights to figure it out, whereas other babies might take months to learn. And now she sleeps all the time. It’s great. A whole year of sleep changes a person.

While staying at home was a blessing, it was also a bit of a curse. Our daughter, while she’s wonderful and beautiful, also throws temper tantrums, so we went a bit stir crazy. We didn’t get that break we normally would while at work. We didn’t really ever have Lucy in daycare, so she never really had huge socialization to begin with. Before the pandemic happened, she’d play with her cousins and kids at the park, but not much more than that. So when the pandemic happened and she wasn’t really able to see other kids, it wasn’t very detrimental to her because she wasn’t used to it. Now that she’s getting older, she’s almost two now, it does kind of stink because she cravesdoes crave socialization. 

In my household we took the virus very seriously, very rarely leaving our home. We only left to go for walks just to get some fresh air, but we weren’t going to grocery stores, we weren’t even going to see our families who lived five blocks away from us. We have this big picture window at the front of the house, and when our parents wanted to come over they literally just stood outside the window. We could hear them and we could talk to them, but that’s how strict we were. You could come visit us and wave through the window, but you couldn’t touch us or Lucy. It was rough.

Both my husband and I went to school here and know a lot of the traditions that Munster has. All the dances, the pep rallies, and concerts, musicals, the sports –  while a lot of those things still happen they did not happen the way they used to. I feel for you students because I got to experience those things all four years and you did not not. For seniors especially, you only really got two amazing years of high school. It’s as if everything was kind of ripped away from you guys. It’s no one’s fault. Just know that most of the teachers are here for you if you ever need to talk. I’ve been pretty lenient with my students this year, if they’re late with an assignment – I just think everyone just needs to be a bit more forgiving. Hopefully this is over soon.

MS. JENNIFER KENEDY-COLE, French Teacher, Separation and Adversity

My husband and i didnt get along very well. It just so happened that when we took the school shutdown around the same time last year I went to a divorce attorney to set up divorce proceedings. The first two months of covid we were going through that. It was an amicable divorce so it was not a surprise. After the divorce, my life has been harder but easier at the same time.

My kids are doing okay, they were expecting a divorce because life was a little rough at home, but they’re doing okay. They do live with me full time.  There is a lot such as not being able to go out and do as much stuff as we used to do. We are a pretty out and about town type of family and that’s something we can’t do right now.

I am stressed and overwhelmed. Having to do teaching is taking on more and there is just so much to do. Also being a single mom there’s more to do. It’s just a lot of stress and overwhelm and I can’t get it all done.I see a therapist and I do my best. I ask for help when I need it. Being a single mom in a pandemic depends on your support system. My ex-husband is not a super active parent. I do have friends and family that are helpful but being in the pandemic it’s harder to make sure everyone is safe.

With being a single mom, and teaching covid has been making me busy because there is always something to do and there is o enough time to get it all done.

JULIE ALVAREZ, Sophomore, Stress and Survival

I really wouldn’t know what to expect when it first started, and I didn’t know how serious and long it would last. 

A lot of my family members had covid. My father actually had it in the beginning of October. He was sent to the hospital that first week, because he wasn’t able to breathe and couldn’t talk. He went home with an oxygen tank, and has been on it since two weeks ago. He is off of it now but needs a breathing machine for when he sleeps. His lungs are messed up pretty bad. We really need a miracle to help us.

 I had to watch him go off into the ambulance while I was in my first hour class. I was scared and nervous to know what was happening with him, and how long he would be this way. I just felt like I lost a lot of focus in school because I’ve watched him get sick. It’s nice that I’m online and am able to help my dad out when he needs it during passing periods or extra study halls.

My father hasn’t been to work since September, and we haven’t had money since. Not one paycheck. We would send paperwork to his job and to the doctor’s office so we could get paid and get help, but they wouldn’t send the papers back on time or they would fill it out incorrectly. We actually hired someone to help us out with our bills. We are struggling so much.

It was stressful. There were times where I had extra money put aside to help. A few family members helped us out with things. My mom’s sister helped us with groceries and brought a lot of stuff to the house when we needed it. My cousin actually lives with us now ever since her mother passed in 2019.  We spent a lot of time together.

I wish teachers wouldn’t put so much pressure on students while they’re at home, if they’re uncomfortable or don’t want to speak up. You might not know what’s going on with a student’s home life. I wish students knew that everyone goes through hard times, and if you ever need someone to talk to, you should join the mustang mental health initiative. I feel like it can help people who are overwhelmed and give them a little bit of relief, talking to other people and getting advice. You should communicate your struggles with your teachers when you have a hard time outside of school. The best thing I do is just take it one day at a time.

RACHEL SPECKHARD, Sophomore, Happy Family Member

Over quarantine, my family and I bonded more than we ever have before. Stronger relationships were made along with fun memories. We had dance parties, built forts, and went on bike rides. I am grateful my family got  along well, a lot of people had much worse experiences with their families over quarantine. I  would describe my experience as “memorable” being something that my family and I  will remember for the rest of our lives.

SOFIA PAVLIC, Senior, Sunken Student

Honestly, I don’t think there is anything that could have prepared me. 

I’ve always struggled with mental health issues, but (life) just felt like it couldn’t possibly get any worse. It was like there was lead in my toes and it slowly bubbled up to my knees, to my chest, to my fingers and I just felt heavy all the time. It got hard to get out of bed and do schoolwork; my grades slipped because it just felt like everything was always gonna get worse. 

At times, I felt there was no point in getting out of bed, because when I stood up the world was just as bad as when I laid down. Sometimes there wasn’t a point in eating, or drinking enough or taking care of myself. I couldn’t look at my phone because everyday was just something worse—someone else got hurt. I felt like I had all of this hurt within me, and I couldn’t reach out to anybody. It was a very hard time in my life, but it has also continued up until now.

 It’s not just feeling isolated anymore. I feel like I’m not in my own body at times. I feel detached, like the world around me does not exist outside. Honestly, it would have been nice to have somebody reach out and give me a hug for no reason. For me, that’s a lot more uplifting than words and especially now, I feel a lot of people are starved for human contact. 

I think that society as a whole, and people as a whole, are both stronger and weaker than we think. While it seems like everything has just fallen apart in the span of a year, we also have to remember that people have gone through incredible things and come out okay. We’re still all human and one day things will go back to normal, but we have to be vigilant as of now.

VERONICA MARLOWE, Freshman, Energetic Sibling

Honestly, I prefer being busy like I was pre-covid. I miss going to my sisters games and practices everyday, because during her games, I babysit the other kids that are usually 6-10. They keep me entertained and they’re so funny and fun to play with. I haven’t picked up any new hobbies lately, but in my free time I usually just talk with my friends and play in my basement with my siblings with all our games down there.

MIRA COSTELLO, Senior, Influenced by Italy

Something that stands out the most in my memory is the fear I felt when I learned about how covid was devastating Italy, even before we had really addressed it here. 

My dad’s side of the family is Italian. We have a few relatives in the US, but most of mythe extended family lives in Italyitaly. My dad’s cousins, aunts, unclesa lot of them are older, and we were worried about what would happen to them if they were exposed. They live in the countryside, which was a relief for us because the cities were hit hard. We weren’t really able to hear from them, especially because they’re seven hours ahead. It was stressful not knowing much from them, but that their country was struggling so much, and that it would inevitably come here. My family in Italy is okay now, so that’s good news.

Italy is unique because not only are the cities super dense, but it’s an intimate culture with the way they interact and the close proximity to each other on a daily basis. They also have a much larger elderly population. There was definitely a much more widespread crackdown that I think helped them initially. 

I have an Italian tutor named Sylvia, who lives outside of Milan. She’s given me an interesting window into a country that objectively probably failed in its initial covid response, but at this point has been more successful than us. She told me all kinds of things I wish we had done here. In Italy, they still have a rule where only one person can go to the grocery store once a week. Unlike here, many people truly did not step foot outside their house for weeks on end. We have so much space here in our country. I have a large backyard, and I’m able to walk my dogs and not see many people, which I’m so lucky to have. In Italy, when you’re living in those tall houses that are all stacked against each other, you go outside and you’re going to run into someone. You look out your window and there might be another person in the other window. They have such a small bubble that they had to stay in when everything was shut down. 

Knowing what they’d endured, and how many people were lost, I didn’t know what to expect when the epicenter shifted from Italy to the US. There was this weird dystopian feeling. The news was always on in the background – something that’s not normal in my house. They kept this running tally of the cases in the US at the time. It was so weird to walk downstairs and see new cases every day. It seems so weird now because we have thousands of people dying every day. It’s like, wow, 200 more people died today. It seems like nothing now, which is insane. We’ve been beaten into submission by the pandemic, so I think we’re grappling with the fact this isn’t how we imagined it to be.

ALAYNA BLASKO, Junior, New experiences & opportunities

Covid has made me very frustrated with dance this year. We have to dance with masks on which is difficult because it gets in the way. Sometimes it will fall down in practice, and I have to fix it in the middle of our dance. Not only is it very uncomfortable to have to dance with something covering half of my face, masks also make it very hard to breathe during practice. 

Besides masks, covid has made competitions and sports events very different. Due to covid, competitions have been set up differently and it is not the best setup out there to allow dancers to fully stretch and prepare for their dances. Similar to how school is run, our dance competitions are grouped into different blocks. Therefore, we have limited time and space to stretch and keep warm for our dances since we have to stay in one room the whole time. 

I definitely think covid has set back my training in dance, and not just for me, but the whole team. Our season got off to a slow start, so we have been scrambling lastminute to be ready for competitions. Covid has also made it hard for me to build my stamina due to masks, and I often get tired early in our performances. I try to keep a positive mentality, but covid occasionally interferes with it because it will deteriorate my motivation.

 We have had our difficulties, but we still have managed to do well at our competitions through the extra hardships we have been through. Sometimes I forget what the normal way of doing things was like. However, I am glad I am able to shed light on the situation and know that even though we have gone through a hard season, we still have done our best to make it as “normal” as possible.

SOPHIE SALAZAR, Freshman, Isolation and self-fulfillment

Covid  has been like a never ending gray. Like at first  it was a nice little break from the constant, overload of colors because before there were all these different colors constantly coming at you. Now all you feel is grey and you just don’t know what to do.

I genuinely enjoy talking to people so I went in-person for a couple weeks, but then I realized that i have already been home for the first semester. So I just decided to stay e-learning but when E-learning You have to help yourself. It is hard to do well in classes because  now it is so difficult to concentrate daily.I just miss talking to people and I miss being able to just go out and have fun whenever. 

During quarantine I figured out more my sense of style and I figured out who I am as myself, I started caring less about what others thought of me because I hung out with others less.I do miss talking to people more and I miss the face interaction that I get from going to school. 

I feel like I’m doing school all day and then afterwards I’m stuck doing homework for another three and a half hours later. So instead of doing almost a six hour school day it feels like nine because of being at home everything’s moving slower, and it’s like every day is on repeat so it’s like I’m not even living anymore it’s almost like I’m just reliving the same day, over and over again.

I now get stressed out when there’s a test like “oh no what am I going to do”, just stuff like that. I’m a generally good student, if you look at my grades and stuff, and I play sports. But nowadays it is just kind of like before it was like “oh you have to do good”, so I wanted to do good. Now it’s like, well, because I can do it without trying as hard, but I’m not learning as much. It’s just I have less motivation, and there’s less happiness that comes from doing that because I feel like I’m not working as hard.

LAURALYN COURTNEY, Sophomore, Confidence through challenges

Covid was kind of rough. Quarantining and staying at the house and not being  able to see friends. Along with not being able to see family as much because I am a really family oriented since my family gets together all the time. Also as i was forced to stay home due to covid I grew a lot mentally. 

Emotionally it affected me pretty well, i still go through rough things but it could be worse. I kind of pulled myself out of a really bad spot. I told myself you can do this, you just go to try a little harder. I was really fortunate to not have anyone pass away and I’ve neer had any super big losses in my life. I mean i did have daily members that had covid but it never got super bad or anything.

 I’ve Been struggling lately where everyday feels the same. Sometimes you feel like there aren’t things to look forward to and sometimes you have to make things to look forward to. I don’t have a ton of hobbies and I am not in school clubs or anything. So it’s just i wake up, go to school, come home, I eat something, do homework and i have some free time to go on my phone or something and just do it all over again.

I would just like to put out a word of advice. Everything happens for a reason, but everything that happens, you are gonna come out stronger even though it may not seem like it. Everything that happens has meaning for the future.

MS. KATHLEEN LAPORTE, Social Studies Teacher, Parent & teacher

As a teacher I have found it very difficult to teach. I didn’t go into teaching to sit at my desk, and I definitely didn’t go into teaching to do it online. I try to keep the kids engaged, but it is hard since they cannot do certain things that the curriculum would normally want them to do. 

This is very frustrating and it has been very difficult in all aspects of education. I have noticed a shift in the socialization between students. Surprisingly, I think the underclassmen have adapted better than our upperclassmen. I feel like the upperclassmen ran with the idea that they can just stay home. I have had a lot of discussions with seniors and they feel like there is nothing to do here, they can’t even talk to anybody. 

The pandemic also affected my son Jax. He is very sociable, just like me, and he loves to be around people. When it first hit and we were at home for thoughts for the first two weeks he found it very difficult sitting online and not being able to play with his friend who lives across the street. Not being able to do everyday things made him a bit angrier. It has also made him more sensitive than he was before and he fears that this will never go back to normal. 

I’ve never kept Jax out of school, I kind of figured I don’t know what is worse, covid or him struggling mentally. We sent him to school and told him that he had to follow the rules and wear his mask. 

I think we have to talk to our kids, and that we have to ask them how they’re feeling and we cannot invalidate what they’re feeling. 

DEVIN DOWNS, Sophomore, Vacuum Enthusiast

Thanks to the pandemic, I got a hobby of cleaning out vacuum cleaners, rather than just collecting them. I waited until the lockdown was over and then I disinfected and sold them.

The hardest experience during the pandemic was the eLearning, all daily tasks, outside time, and video games all in one day. I was able to do it.

I chatted with friends through video calls, texting, xbox and playstation games, and also through phone calls. I missed hanging out with large groups like I was able to, and I also missed the opportunity to see a lot of people as well. I see more friends now since I actually go to school. I get to see family more often now. I have to go to certain places but I have to wear a mask. I miss not wearing a mask.​

ANTHONY ORNELAS, Freshman, Newfound appreciation

I remember people were talking about being out of school for a bit, so I got excited. Then once the school made the announcement at the end of the day, everyone was so hyped for break. Going into quarantine, we didn’t even have assignments for the first few weeks until after spring break. During that time I remember staying up playing video games with my friends a lot, and watching new shows.

Once they made the announcement that we weren’t going back to school at all, I realized I wasn’t going to finish 8th grade, which I thought was such a fun year and was only going to get better.

We just had assignments to do by a certain time, and no logging into any online meets. I thought it was a lot easier to be honest. I was able to finish everything in under two hours a day. 

Although it was fun, it wasn’t your ideal school. Especially because I was starting to like going to school in 8th grade, and then I couldn’t anymore. It kind of upset me. It was fun for the time, but I’m happy we’ve found a way to do hybrid learning and being back in school is fun.

 I wish I could go back, but from that I’ve learned to live in the moment and appreciate things while you can.

TERESA SAROFEEM, Sophomore, Lonesome eLearner

I would say the most difficult part about this all has been social interaction. I barely got any of that, and talking over the phone just isn’t the same as seeing people in person. At first, I was happy to have a few weeks off with no work and nothing to do, but then as we got into the quarantine it got really old and boring after the first week or two. It wasn’t fun anymore, and that was when I actually started to worry about it.

I think whether you’re online or in person definitely affects your relationship with your teachers, because I feel like if you’re in person your teachers are going to be closer to you. If you’re online, the teachers barely know what you look like, so it’s a lot harder to form a relationship. I miss having a full class. Even if I didn’t know all the people in my class, it was so nice to have those people with me inside of the classroom. 

My relationship with certain people have definitely changed. My attitude and how I am outside of the house and even with my family has changed a lot. Family and friends have overall impacted me the most. 

KATE KRAWZYCK, Junior, Readapt & appreciate

I remember actually, I think it was two days before we officially got called off of school. I was in physics with Megan Flynn. She’s a senior this year and she was like “guys the first covid case is at community hospital right across the street,” so of course we’re all freaking out like “no way this can’t be reality,” Then I started texting my mom and she was like “no way, it’s here, it’s terrifying.”

At the beginning of the school year I was really worried that my teachers were going to be like, “I have no clue who this girl is, can’t really form a connection.” So at the beginning of the school year I emailed all my teachers and gave them a little quick blurb about me, like, “Hey my name is Kate” and then something that was kind of is relevant towards our class to form a connection, so I’m not just a random person behind a screen. I do think it is difficult, but I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for them, because you’re really just talking to a void I guess. I don’t think people give teachers enough credit.

I feel like a lot of people would say the most difficult part of this all is online school and just trying to keep up with everything. And, you know, that is difficult, but I think a more difficult part of it’s just really trying to just readapt to everything, because none of us have ever been through anything like this before. So really trying to get to that new mindset; okay like you have to actually sit down and do this. It’s not optional, even though it really feels like it. I think that was the most difficult part just trying to keep on top of your own mental health.

LINDSEY REDA, Junior, Adapting to eLearning

Staying focused and having motivation to do my work is very difficult while eLearning. Since it is so easy to just stay in my bed all day I really have to push myself to get work done and focus on my classes. Two good habits are my organization and teaching myself the material in some classes since some teachers aren’t very good at teaching both online kids and in-person. A bad one is waking up right at 7:32 just in time to open my computer and log into class. Next year, because I have adjusted to eLearning and I don’t feel like readjusting all over again. I think for some classes I definitely need to be in-person, like math, but in other classes I actually prefer online. But I wish I could be in-person like normal with everyone else and being able to see my friends. Everyone has those school friends that you talk to in school but don’t hang out with outside of school, and I miss those friends. To socialize I will sometimes text or FaceTime my classmates. Also track just started up so I am able to socialize there which is nice.

NOELLE STEWART, Sophomore, Maintaining Mental-Health

The mental effects of lockdown have caused me to be more anxious than ever. As a social person, the pandemic has caused me to struggle with anxiety and depression. I have always struggled with both but I think it has been worse since I was not able to see my friends and family and they have always been my get away and coping system. My relationship with my friends and family is very close, I love them more than anything. Not being able to see my grandparents due to the pandemic has been very hard, I know they won’t be here forever and not getting to make memories with them has been tough.

GABY RUIZ, Sophomore, Rocky Start

Speech and Student Government were great but it felt like I couldn’t do them to their fullest extent. covid being on screens for competitions made me feel a little less nervous as opposed to being on stage, but I do want to experience that eventually. Sometimes it is awkward in the meetings when people are just you know chatting around and I’m just kind of you know with my mic muted in the background nodding along. So it does kind of feel disconnected with some people but I think everyone tried to include us all in it, which is nice.

We are having face to face conversations but it’s not really face to face. I think the whole process of unmuting myself is really weird to speak. So I have to wait until everyone finishes talking and then I’m like, Okay, let me unmute myself and talk to them so I feel like, just having a normal conversation. Pitching in is really hard and sometimes my WiFi is messed up and I leave the meeting on accident. Due to internet issues It’s really hard not to just be with everyone in the same room and talking to them like I normally would.

I don’t regret quitting dance so that I could do speech this year. I’m really glad I got to do speech this year, it was something that I wanted to do before and I felt like this was the best opportunity to do it because I did think like covid was going to restrict dance, which it did. But it also restricted things in speech, obviously. But I don’t regret doing it, I’m so glad I got to do speech this year. It’s been really fun even with all the restrictions, but I’m still really open about what I should do next year depending on once again the restrictions of everything. I’m still thinking of what to do if I’m going to continue with speech or go back to dance.

MACKENZIE STRICKLIN, Senior, Empathy through Hardship

I have been most impacted by the fact that I had to grow up. Before covid I never had to worry about things. Now I have to be responsible and make choices for the benefit of others rather than myself. That was something that I never felt like I had to do before. Also I never realized how disconnected my family was until they were the only people I saw for weeks at a time.

MR. LARRY HAUTZINGER, Science Teacher, Adjusting to Adversity

When we got the announcement (for quarantine), I had just finished loading the truck for Project Bio, and then the trip was canceled. That was the start of it, after that it was just, “Hmm, when do we come back?” 

Into quarantine, I was tired of it. (My family) didn’t do anything—no restaurants, no nothing—we just stayed home and the store was the only place we ever went to. We had plans—my in-laws—down in Tennessee we go every summer, and we go to my parents’ house every summer—they live in Florida. We wanted to go several times to visit (my daughter) in NYC during Thanksgiving: that all died. It was not happy with Sarah going to NYC; it was a hard, hard adjustment. If we go there, we have to quarantine—so we can’t go out, we can’t do anything—that’s not an option we have anymore. 

I have an aunt and uncle in New York. She died on February 20th and he died on February 22nd. We couldn’t go to the funeral—they canceled everything. We were even going to go in the summer, but then they ended up canceling that. So we never had a funeral, never had a thing for those—hopefully this summer, we’re hoping to have some sort of memorial service.

NATE SZROMBA, Freshman, Struggle in Separation

Staying social was much harder but at some points, easier. There was more to talk about with friends and family because (we) weren’t always around each other like it was before the pandemic. I played baseball almost everyday after school and always had games or practiced on my own on the weekends. I only really went fishing with other friends when they asked, because it was always so much fun. I ended up doing that every other weekend.

During baseball, I played on a few different teams. I always play in town, because I know everybody there and it’s always a good time. I also played for a “travel team,” where we went around Indiana and Illinois. We also had a plan to go to Milwaukee and Kentucky, however both of those trips got cancelled due to COVID-19.

Not being able to do these things kind of hit hard, because when I was down or working through a loss, I would always try and schedule something with my friends to get my mind off it. Now, I can’t really do that. The best thing I can do there is try to hop on a zoom and talk about it.

I still see a few of my friends a lot, because we are always careful and normally do a lot together. However the people I used to hang out with haven’t been able to go anywhere because of living with older family members or their parents/they are scared of the virus.

I used to see friends a lot more often. Every week we would be scheduling something to go as a group or with our families. Otherwise, I only see my cousin who lives a few blocks away.  I do get to see my grandma often, because she is self isolating and got the vaccine recently. The only times I really get out are to run to the store with my parents or hang out with my closest friends. I am able to leave home a lot less. My parents work a lot more now, so I have to watch my little brother and most of my friends are in self quarantine. 

The hardest experience was that my father lost his job a few months ago. But before that, he bought a branch of a tax company around here, so he and my mom work with that a lot more, so my mom isn’t home until around 8pm, and my dad isn’t home until around 10pm, so it’s hard to not go crazy with my little brother around.