PREVAILING THROUGHOUT IT ALL: Student and Staff Stories of Trial and Triumph

Students and staff share the silver linings of their covid experiences

NATASHA TRUETT, Junior, Seeing Through the Darkness

I lost my grandmother the first day of lockdown and eight months later I lost my father. Through that time I think we went through a whole spiritual revelation because my family has always been grounded and nature connected. 

At times I felt like the universe didn’t want me to be happy and that I wasn’t living the life that I was meant to live. There was one day where I stayed up for 24 hours because I didn’t feel like sleeping. I would sit and stare at nothing and think about things for hours. I would just listen to music or scroll through tik tok and instagram for no reason and I felt lonely at times.I am extroverted and being inside has wrecked me, I have a physical need to be around people and not being around people makes me feel lonely and angry at myself.

Three months after my grandmother died, I got back together with my boyfriend after breaking up like five times previously and we’re still dating. He was there when my dad died. That was really crazy in my opinion because nobody expected him to do that, that came out of nowhere, even to me. That was the moment where I was like ‘I am supposed to be happy.’ The universe wants me to be happy. All of these big changes in my life happening at once while being in a controlled environment has been good for me rather than being out all of the time. Me staying in one place while all of this is going on while being with my mom who has been my emotional support this whole time has been better before. In a way covid helped me but didn’t.

Art was an emotional outlet for me especially when I made a piece for my dad. It was a collage so I was breaking things and slapping things onto this big wooden board. It was an accurate expression of how I felt and unresolved anger and pain with him. I also did another one for my grandma after she passed. It was a paper collage of how much I loved her and missed her because she was such an amazing woman. 

My pandemic experience has been eye opening because it has changed me so much compared to how I was when this whole pandemic started. I feel like everything happens for a reason. Everything happens because the universe has plans for you.

MS. BETH RASPOPOVICH, Math Teacher, Finding the Bright Side

Covid limited opportunities to do a lot of the normal things that people do. Obviously, it’s affected me that way, just as it has everybody else. I always try to look at what positives came of it. My family has always been close, but I would say we’ve become really close in the last year. I’m not talking just my immediate family, I’m talking even my brothers, my nieces and nephews and our cousins, because that’s who we spent the majority of our time with to try and keep our circle a little smaller than what we normally would. 

The inability to do those things that you normally would do, like going to concerts, going to ball games and hanging out with friends, because those opportunities weren’t there as much, we’ve gotten super close. We spend a lot of time boating, playing golf or having family game nights. I think that one positive that’s come of it is people I think have reintroduced themselves to what I’ll call just wholesome funfun that you used to have back in the day before you had the ability to do all of those things.

I think just in general, in life, I always find it easiest to cope with things if I try to find a positive in any situation. In our lifetimes, there’s going to be bad things and without the bad there really can’t be good. How do you know something is good, if you don’t know when something’s bad? That’s kind of the way I look at things. I always try to look and try to find a positive even in the most negative of situations. I think if you can find the positive, you don’t become overwhelmed with the negative. Believe me, I had my stretches of feeling super isolated, but (it was a matter of) just trying to find ways to not feel isolated and always trying to look at the positive.

MR. DREW MARTIN, Math Teacher, Crisis Breeds Compassion

Even as crazy as it was with politics and everything, I think people are a little kinder. They’re a little more considerate towards people. There has been a change in people in that, there’s no sense in being nasty or mean to people, because we’re all in the same boat here. 

To be honest with you, I’ve seen my neighbors a lot more than I have in the past, because we would sit on our deck, they would sit on their deck, our other neighbor would sit on their deck, and we could sit their and be socially distanced and talk to each other.

I got a lot of work done around my house – I redid my deck, I redid some bathrooms inside my house. I’m still working on some things. It’s forced me to do a few more things than I would have done just because I would’ve been out eating somewhere, or I would’ve been going “here” somewhere. In that sense, it’s definitely a good silver lining.

MRS. KATIE HARRIS, Math Teacher, Coming Together

The last day of school—March 13—I erupted in cheers of joy like everyone else in the hallway. Initially, I thought “Wow, we can do this,” but that quickly changed—about 3 weeks in, I was done.

(Time away from friends and family) hasn’t been good—I think anxiety is high. I find myself not sleeping as well at night, and for my kids, it’s not being able to see their friends and family. We have taken (COVID-19) very seriously and gone to great lengths to protect ourselves and our loved ones. It has been very difficult for us to shut down like that.

The lowest (point during quarantine) was our big family trip—my mom turned 70 last year, so we had a big extended family trip to Bermuda—we were going to sail out of New York City and spend that week with everyone, but we had to cancel it. It was so disappointing for her to not be able to have that time with all of us as this big family trip. (My parents) probably won’t ever go on a cruise again because they feel nervous about the sanctuary conditions on a ship and being in enclosed spaces.

Some good things have come along—(my family) having time together, as life’s slowed down and we could re-evaluate what is and isn’t important in our lives. Friday nights are movie nights: we eat a bunch of junk food and pretend we are at a real movie theater. We do things like that, more intentional time together. (Life) gets in the way, so we’re more focused with how we spend time together.

It’s also been a learning opportunity for me to teach my kids about how it’s not about you, but it’s about other people: giving and taking care of each other.  Help out one another—check on your neighbors and friends that you’re not even seeing in-person, make sure they’re okay—and help them if they’re in need. It was about getting rid of the things that don’t really matter and keeping the things that do.

TAYLOR PEREZ, Junior, Time For Self-Care

Spending a lot of time in my room, just by myself, opened a lot of things up. I’m usually “on the go” all the time, with clubs, different extracurriculars and stuff. I’m always running from school, picking something up from home and then running to practice. I just never really had that time to sit down and listen myself, which sounds kind of weird. I just never really had that time. When we were home and quarantining, I obviously couldn’t go anywhere, so I had no choice but to do that. When that did happen again, it opened up some different quirks that I had. 

There were different kinds of things I would do when I wake up, like a school routine. Before, it was you get up, you shower in the morning, you brush your teeth, do your hair and makeup and stuff like that. When I had more free time, it was like, “What am I supposed to do now? I don’t go anywhere, do anything.” So (now), I take that time and focus on myself. I hadn’t had a genuine skin care routine, and working out was something I got big into. At first a lot fo it was focusing on health and keeping myself healthy, but the longer I got into it, it got really stagnant. Keeping your health up is important, but that’s not the only part of beng an all-around healthy person. That’s when everyone started to get “stir crazy,” and that’s when I definitely noticed, “Oh, wow, I do have this thing called mental health.” 

I had an “aha” moment when my boyfriend was graduating. He was always talking about graduation, and about how it was still even going to go. Then, I just started having worries, and I realized that I shouldn’t even be worrying about school. I started focusing on, when feeling anxious about school or about stuff I shouldn’t be worrying about at the moment, to live in the present. I guess that was definitely something that I had to work on, and I’m still working on. With this whole covid thing, we’re not sure how things are going to look in the future, so why worry about it now, when you know that things can change.