Editor’s note: Bothell High School in Washington state was the first to close for two days of emergency cleaning on Feb. 27, 2020, due to the threat of COVID. On March 12, 2020, Ohio became the first state to announce its entire public school system would close, and by March 20, all states had announced public schools would be closed for at least some period of time.
For this three-part series, PBS NewsHour Classroom reached out to students who have participated in PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) on their reflections over the past two years, and what they hope for the future of education and student well-being. This is the first entry in the series.
by Viamelys Salgado, age 17
John A. Ferguson Senior High School—Miami, Florida
The past two years have taken a huge toll on students’ mental health. I reported on this issue for PBS South Florida early in 2020 because, at the time, all the little things in my day that used to bring me joy had slowly been stripped away by the pandemic.
Hobbies, friendships and memorable moments I’d just begun to experience — after years of hearing about what a special time high school is — disappeared before I even realized it.
It was hard to find positives in endless days that all felt the same.
In this special released in early May, 2020, Viamelys Salgado and other students from South Florida PBS explain how they take care of themselves during the early days of the pandemic.
It wasn’t until some normalcy returned that I realized that everyone my age had felt isolated. We were all united by a common experience without even knowing it, and that insight helped me see how important it is to discuss mental health. Even by simply talking about our struggles, we find an important kinship in one another.
Even by simply talking about our struggles, we find an important kinship in one another.
Though things have returned somewhat back to normal, a catastrophic event such as a pandemic has long-lasting effects. It’s hard to go back to the life we once knew after already being forced to adapt so many times. Things just don’t feel the same, and in many ways we are not the people we once were.
There was undoubtedly a portion of our lives now lost to anxiety and fear — a time we will never get back — but it’s important to remember that it was for the better so that others didn’t have to go through a lot worse.
Regardless, the past can’t be changed and it should be taken as a lesson to enjoy what we have. To appreciate the people around us and the opportunity to meet others. To look back at the time as a trial that made us a better version of ourselves, though it might have been hard.
Regardless, the past can’t be changed and it should be taken as a lesson to enjoy what we have.
As the world heals, we should think of this time as a second chance to enjoy our lives with new wisdom and personal growth. Personally, as someone who missed the majority of the traditional high school experience, I’m lucky enough to be back in person for my senior year, which is arguably the most important high school year.
I’m taking every day as an opportunity for new experiences I might have missed out on, and coming out of my shell to be as involved as possible so I can enjoy the opportunities two previous senior classes might not have had.
Do you know a student who would like to contribute to NewsHour Classroom’s Student Voice blog and share their experience over the past two years of COVID? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sign up for NewsHour Classroom’s morning email featuring stories like the piece you just read.