On the 12th of March, we found out that all CHSAA activities would be canceled until the end of our three week spring break; I found out on Instagram. I was not participating in a sport in the spring season, only helping with my friend to manage our boys’ swim team. I was not affected as much by this, as it would only limit how often I got to swim in the murky pool. I was not sure how much this would take a toll on others until I walked through the hallways. All of the girls on the soccer team were wearing their jerseys for their first game of the season. I walked past some of the then seniors and saw them cry. Eighth period, I had Leadership with mostly seniors and some juniors; I had never seen so many blank stares in my life.
I walked onto the pool deck for our last practice for the next three weeks. Although we all seemed pretty upset because of the high hopes we had for the season, we stayed lighthearted and played a bunch of games, listened to music, and had diving competitions. I did not know that would be the last time I saw our dive coach Indiya before she passed away in June.
The following day felt unreal. Every single class felt like it would be the last time; it was the same routine, seven times: make sure you are signed up for Google Classroom, know the email of every single teacher, and do not leave any items at school. Sitting in physics watching Mr. Vore talk about how he would be using online materials when all throughout the year he would show work on a projector with paper and pencils was weird. I thought this was overly dramatic considering we would only be gone for three weeks; we were then told during those three weeks that sports would not resume until April 28th, and after that, going back to school would be delayed until then as well.
I was not very comfortable with online learning. I realized that I was much more of a hands-on learner and that my favorite classes—math and physics—would be much harder to learn online than in person. I still get really self conscious with my camera on; it is much harder to focus on your teacher when they take up one-sixteenth of your screen, so you are able to see everyone else with their camera on too. Usually in a class you block out most of your classmates by following your teacher as they walk around their classroom. Online is different. As soon as something pops up on someone else’s screen, crash, there goes my focus. I get nervous whenever I talk online. I know my face pops up on every person’s screen. For whatever reason, I get so much more anxious with online school when it comes to participating in sharing answers or asking questions than I would in regular school, something that I have continued to struggle this school year.
Throughout the summer that felt like forever, I was able to go on a road trip with my family. My dad was really interested in going to visit Mount Rushmore because none of us had ever seen it. We first stopped in Wyoming, where we walked into a small breakfast place where there was not a mask in sight, which after wearing masks every step we took outside for the past three months felt wrong. The lady who owned the place had said she has a hard time recognizing people who come in, so she chooses not to wear one. I thought that was a little concerning at first, but the food was too good for me to give it a second thought. When we made it into South Dakota there was almost no one wearing a mask. Most restaurants had enforced masks among employees, but they did not have a restriction on capacity. I stopped at a coffee shop with my mom one morning where the employees were not wearing any masks and the lady immediately asked us where we were from. We responded and said we were from Denver and asked how she knew. She told us that only tourists come in with masks and proceeded to take our order. The highlight of that trip for me was seeing a man almost identical to Guy Fieri; my dad was a little too excited about that.
Throughout the summer, I was planning on attending school in person with restrictions on the amount of students in the school and wearing a mask the whole day, only to hear that would not be the case. At first I was disappointed. I knew that all of the other districts would be going back in person; I wanted to go back to see all of the friends I could not see over the summer. I quickly realized that online school was even more boring than regular school, but thankfully my parents let me start doing weekly study groups with some of my friends. About two days a week, we would go to each other’s houses and do the school day from there. We thought we would only do it for a couple of weeks until we went back in person. My brother and I both wanted to go back in person, but the more they described what it would be like, the less inclined I became. Sitting in a classroom with a mask on all day doing my online classes did not seem as appealing to me as doing online classes with access to my pantry at all times of the day, so I chose to remain online.
My family is pretty lucky with our health; none of us have an autoimmune compromise, and we have been able to go through our days with only few changes from life pre-pandemic. Towards the end of March, only my dad was able to go to the grocery store because he was able to continue working for his construction company, as that was considered an essential job. Now, both my mom and dad go to work, and my brother and I go through our almost normal day of going to the gym and stopping to get food.
I think this pandemic has been able to teach me about how important patience is. We always say in our house that patience builds character; this was the lesson that enforced it. I recently took the SAT and was able to drive to school, see some of my friends, and be back in the building. As much as I had dreaded going to school before, I now wish I could take back all of my complaints to be back to a normal school day. Before this year, I had taken so many little things for granted. While I am frustrated with how long this has taken for our country to only go back to right where we started, I am hopeful that this will not be our forever. This sudden pandemic has taught me a lot about character and to fight for what I think is right, even if there will be repercussions. COVID-19 has given me so many great memories that I am grateful for, and if I could go back in time and pick whether or not I would stay in this pandemic with all of my memories or have no pandemic and lose the times I had, I would surely pick the pandemic in a heartbeat.