In the Spring of 2021, PBS NewsHour Classroom and CoBuild19 invited students, educators and families to share your stories through art, text or multimedia to express how the pandemic affected you and your communities as part of our Hindsight 20/21 project. At that time, it had been just over one year since the first COVID-19 case had been identified in the United States.
Hindsight 20/21 sought to look back at a year unlike any other in our lifetime, sharing a little of what the pandemic meant in our lives and imagining how life might be a little different going forward as a result. This was a project about community remembrance. We challenged you to use drawing or painting, story or verse, video or interview, or any other form of creative expression or combination of mixed media to show how COVID-19 had impacted your world. You rose to the challenge!
We received a wide variety of submissions, most of which were text or 2D pictures. We represented audio, video, and digital media entries as best we could in these pages, but we highly encourage you to view our YouTube video compilation or visit the PBS NewsHour website to view them in their true form:
As we mark the two-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, this book shares our collective story as heard through your voices. Some of you chose to include an artist’s statement that briefly describes your submission. These statements are showcased using blue text. Artists are identified only using initials or aliases and grade levels.
It was important to us that we hear and share your stories, in your own voices. Each of your stories shines a spotlight on what you missed and what you lost, but also what you gained, found, learned, and how you changed over the course of the year. While we hear your struggles, feel your pain, and mourn your losses, we also hear your voices rising above and showing us how you grew, how you overcame, and how you look ahead to the future.
Collectively, your stories provide a look back at your experiences while simultaneously looking forward with hope to a brighter future as we move beyond COVID-19.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
J. P. (8TH GRADE)
How COVID-19 Impacted Me
H. K. (6TH GRADE)
This is a writer’s portfolio with two parts: a personal account of online learning, and then a poem reflecting the “monstrous” quality of the pandemic. Infamous Monster is a poem that portrays the monstrous qualities of Coronavirus, and how people reacted to it. I chose these metaphors because in fact, COVID-19 is a monster. It tore society apart and impacted the whole world sneakily. One reason I wrote this poem is because I have also felt this monster trying to get to me. I once got a sore throat along with my friend, but was relieved when we tested negative for COVID-19. I hope the last part of the poem cheers everybody up, about the vaccine and how the world is getting pieced back together. The poem is a reminder that we went through this, we conquered our fears and overcame this difficulty; we made it this far.
The Infamous Monster
The monster, a wave.
Demolishing the world like a wave over a sandcastle.
Crushed and in the depths of the sea,
Nothing as far as the eye can see.
Masks as barriers.
Human population behind shields. Unseen
and waiting, stuck inside homes. Only
voices over phones.
Talking to the computer,
Bored but anxious.
First sign of illness, Whole
house in stillness, Waiting.
Waiting for the next move of the monster.
The infamous monster,
Unseen but traveling,
Unnoticed until it pounces, and
drains the life out of you.
Needles into arms, No
A high five with a friend.
The world coming back to life,
Piece by piece.
A jigsaw puzzle getting completed.
COVID-19 Takes Over The World
Coronavirus has definitely taken a big, negative toll on the whole world, viciously taking lives, plunging the economy, and paralyzing everyone in fright. We have been forced to stay home and practice social distancing, scrubbing our hands raw, always afraid we would catch the virus. However, I have realized some things due to COVID and now know how to deal with hard times like these. I developed more resilience and patience from dealing with the virus and the pandemic.
Yes, dealing with COVID-19 has been hard for everyone. It was the first time for many people to deal with this kind of situation, and the world was in a catastrophe.
The biggest impact on children and students was online school. I have been through this myself, and from this experience I learned to manage my time more and become independent. Never in a million years would I have imagined Coronavirus was so intense, that I would be doing fifth grade online! Fifth grade, the magical year, the last year, where you get to be the oldest and do so many fun projects—all taken away from me in one email. Hence, that was why I was grumpy on the first day of fifth grade, and I was even more angry because I had gotten a very strict teacher. I felt like crying and bawling myself out!
The first day was a total disaster. My teacher was on the elderly side, and did not know how to operate technical things at all. First, she said she wanted to test out this new platform, Big Blue Button, when the one we were using right now, Google Meet, was perfectly fine. The new meeting site turned out to glitch so much and kept on taking the audio away, as well as making the audio echo. My ears were to the point of bleeding and I almost screamed when the teacher said we would be trying this site out more. Could she not see it wasn’t working for some people? Then we were going to watch a video for social studies, and the video didn’t make any sound— which led to us getting the video assigned for homework. On my end, I was having trouble too. I couldn’t hear any audio, and got so frustrated when I had to shut down my computer and reboot it that I felt like smashing my computer. It was hard to hear sometimes and catch everything the teacher was saying, and I never got to make any friends because it was hard to interact and get to know people when there was no recess or lunch. Everything was all over the place, and I felt like I was viewing school upside down, in a totally new way, which made me appreciate in-person school and all its qualities. I also realized I felt lonely without friends, not hearing the bustling classroom, and eating solely with my family. In fact, my family was getting tired of each other and started bickering, and my mother was tired of cooking all day. Everyone was demented and slowly getting deranged as the months dragged on.
But after a few months, I got used to online school. It felt normal, and my teacher had become significantly better at teaching online. The COVID-19 guidelines have definitely loosened as the vaccine has come out, and I met up with a few of my friends on occasion. Through this tumultuous school year, I learned to cherish and think highly of the opportunity to go to in-person school and interact with others physically. It was really hard to make friends this year, and through a screen, it’s not the same as meeting someone in person. Humans sense emotions through talking and gestures, but through a screen, those things are hard to sense and compute. It was weird and stressful to experience a devastating historical event and have to do online learning at the same time, but now I appreciate being able to go to school and can’t wait for it to be safe enough again.
Even though COVID is now a little settled, it will still be hard to go back to normal due to what we have been through. But because we have been through this, we now know how to deal with similar pandemics like these, and learned to cherish things that seemed unimportant. And I am proud to say we are a part of one of the biggest events in history and made it through until now.
K. Z. (11TH GRADE)
On My Mind
There’s a lot on my mind. This past year has brought about unprecedented changes, events, and controversies. It’s occupied my headspace. Coronavirus has been the root of it all, as I experienced my entire life change and witnessed others losing theirs. The politicization of this pandemic has been the topic of another dimension of thought in my mind. The country has become polarized due to politics, causing additional stress and division: the last thing needed during a pandemic. Not only have there been tremendous political and pathological changes, but there have also been social movements. We became more socially conscious of the injustices, political failures, and flaws in our society. In response, we became emboldened with a drive to advocate for racial, political, and other societal changes. As I bore witness to the rapidly changing world around me, I internalized and ruminated over these changes, living in my head. This year, everything has been on my mind.
C. (8TH GRADE)
Hey, my name is C. I’m going to be writing about what I’ve struggled with during the pandemic. Starting up with my first story that I have about the pandemic is about being inside my house for 6 months. I was only able to leave my house to get groceries at a store. The roads were empty for 6 months, no cars, no nothing–everything was empty. I would sometimes go with my mom to the store, and there was no water or toilet paper, so everything was already sold out. The stores would sometimes run out of food as well, and everybody needed to wear a mask or you wouldn’t be able to go inside the store. Also, during this time, I moved into my new house that burnt down in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. So I was so happy that I moved into my new house, but 2 weeks later there was another big fire during this pandemic, so it was even worse. Unfortunately my family needed to evacuate, and I was super scared because we were evacuating during a pandemic. Everybody was wearing masks, and you couldn’t even be next to somebody if you weren’t 6 feet apart. So it was kind of scary, but my family ended up staying at my soccer teammate’s house.
So after this fire, we were in school, but we had to do online school because we couldn’t go to school due to COVID-19. Doing online school was not easy to learn as well as when you’re in school, so be very grateful that you’re in actual school. Online school might sound fun and all, but it’s really not so.
My next story is about playing soccer during COVID-19. Playing soccer was fun because I would very good playing something and being with your friends since you couldn’t go to school. The only bad side about this is that you needed to wear a mask or you couldn’t play, and it was very hard playing with a mask on and it wasn’t very easy running with it on. The next bad part about it is that you couldn’t do contact or be next to someone if you weren’t six feet apart from the person. So you would be able to play soccer, but nothing was the same. I just want to say, after all my struggles, is to be grateful where you are now and take advantage of life. Do everything to the fullest and be happy where you are now. Thank you for reading about my struggles during COVID-19.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
K. C. (8TH GRADE)
I have never considered myself an artist, but I decided to push myself to draw some pictures about COVID-19 and how it affected me and those around me.
Starting with the photo in the middle, I drew this one to represent all the Covid cases spreading in the U.S. At the beginning of quarantine, I remember my teacher showing us a map with red dots of where Covid was tested positive, which helped inspire that photo.
The image on the top is about how everything nowadays is about Covid, and we all are hearing it from our so-called “own worlds.” It shows what everybody is saying and what everyone is hearing. It shows just really how much those words can travel.
The image on the right shows someone looking at their computer and hearing many things from the media. As we know, on social media, there are many opinions and feelings. It shows someone going on their computer, and all they see is Covid-related things just like we are seeing. It also shows how much time, especially with quarantine, we spend on electronics.
The bottom picture represents feeling alone. Especially with Covid going on, many of us feel separated and secluded from everyone else, and that’s what this photo represents. It shows someone feeling alone in their thoughts.
Lastly, the picture on the left represents how many students can be feeling currently. Many are feeling trapped and their assignments start to pile up. Many students during this time are struggling because this way of learning doesn’t work out for them.
MAIL (8TH GRADE)
Humans are like water. We can adapt to many environments. As water creates its own path, we can forge our own path through life. When the going gets tough, we can find another way. The islands in my art show that. If I were to color my piece, it would be rainbow because life is not just one emotion — it is multiple emotions. But, if I were to color my piece one color, it would be yellow because yellow symbolizes happiness and confidence. Finally, the emotion I want people to see when they look at my piece is inspiration.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
On March 13th, 2020, we left school for Spring Break. Almost a year later, we still have not returned to school due to COVID-19. When the pandemic started, we thought it was only going to be a 14-day shutdown to stop the spread. Yet, here we are: a few short of a year later, and our lives are still on lockdown.
During the lockdown, there have lots of missed opportunities for myself, my family, and my community. I think it important to look at back on the opportunities that were missed so that you can be more appreciative of what you have when it is there.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
The picture shows a page from a book being burned. For me, this picture describes that this chapter of my life was not my year. All the challenges summing up: fires, Covid, pandemic, family members passing away. I feel alone through all this. Throughout this pandemic, I was scared; I got Covid, and the thought of losing my parents and sister was terrifying. The best thing that came out of this year was my relationship with my sister and becoming friends with my dog.
I. T. (8TH GRADE)
During COVID-19, there have been many things that have happened to me, and I’m here to tell you about it. First, I’m going to talk about some of my family members who have gotten COVID-19. My sister got COVID-19 but her symptoms were not bad. All she had was a fever, cough, and sore throat. Next is my grandma, who had headaches, lost of taste, cough, and fever. Luckily she did not have to be hospitalized. Also, during this time sports and gyms were closed, so I had to workout at home which was difficult sometimes because some days I felt less motivated than other days. During school, it has been challenging adapting to online school, I’m still learning new things about online school. The last thing about quarantine is that I learned how to bake and cook. My mom is still teaching me, but baking is what I’m good at.
A. C. (12TH GRADE)
ANONYMOUS (9TH GRADE)
The big planet in the background represents COVID-19, and all the dead ships are the effects it has had on the population. There are good people and bad people, and there are people that are more focused on fighting each other than on fighting the virus. That is the main message this piece is meant to convey.
D. S. (12TH GRADE)
Your Story Matters
This piece helps tell my Hindsight 20/21 story because it shows what not only me, but other students have been going through with school since COVID-19. Also, this can show what school is normally like without COVID-19. It also shows how all the work can wear down students throughout the weeks. What I want to take forward is to use the skills I have learned throughout this year. The skills I learned are dealing with stress and completing a lot of work in a short amount of time. What has changed forever is I did not get to experience my senior year of high school in a good way. Instead, this year I have just been muscling through all of the homework, tests, and quizzes.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
ANONYMOUS (9TH GRADE)
My story is nothing special. I mean, it might have been if I wasn’t supposed to write one about the pandemic. But sometimes you have to. Mine is nothing exciting. It was mid-March or early March. (I forgot.) Then, the news came in telling us that we would have to do online, I didn’t do a single assignment that whole online couple of months — well, except for my vocal jazz course. But, somehow I passed, and I don’t know how, but in 8th grade, I did a lot better I was passing most of my classes, but some were really boring. I did not care for them, but I passed. I was worn out from being online for a year, but now I am finally in actual school because COVID-19 is calming down slowly but surely. Yeah, that’s about it. I told you, but you kept reading. The end.
H. P. (8TH GRADE)
V. H. (8TH GRADE)
Life in Quarantine
HEALER (4TH GRADE)
My piece is about a memory of going to the COVID-19 center, the huge impact that COVID-19 had on my life, and my wishes after COVID-19. I wanted to tell the world about a normal girl’s life with COVID-19. Before I started to write it, I felt like I was giving this piece to a huge country, so I should do it perfectly. My first draft was rough because I was too focused on impressing others. However, on my second draft, I focused on expressing my thoughts clearly, which led to a sincere essay. Before submitting, I read my essay out loud. I was proud of myself that I could write a detailed essay and was confident enough to express my thoughts to other countries far away. After people read my piece, I hope they can think back to their memories and about their hopes after COVID-19. Just thinking about it will make people smile.
“Smooth like butter. Criminal undercover.” “Butter” is BTS’s new song. Twice a week, I go to my jumping club. I listen to my favorite song, “Butter,” as I jump rope. That day, I jumped over a thousand times. Even though I was out of breath, I jumped with my mask as I tried to break my record. I was satisfied with that day’s score. Even though I suffered because of the mask, which makes me out of breath, I love the jumping club where I can listen to my favorite songs and have fun. I always wait for those days when I can beam with happiness. Nobody knew that that day would become a big disaster.
The following day, I was about to play with my brother when my mother screamed. “Aaah! Jessica, there was a confirmed COVID case in your jumping club. Oh my, she attended the same date and time as you!” I froze in horror. The day I had jumped over a thousand times, there was a girl that got confirmed for COVID. The Gangnam COVID-19 testing center from near my home in Seoul had sent my mom a message that I needed to be tested because I was a close contact. That day, I wore a mask all day long, stayed in my room, and ate dinner by myself. My mom left a tray of food in front of my room door. I was so lonely and felt my eyes watering when I heard my dad and brother laughing as they ate dinner. I felt left out. The next morning, I nervously walked to my dad’s car and headed to the COVID-19 testing center. I nervously scratched the side of the seat in my dad’s car. When we arrived, there were thousands of people waiting to get tested. I folded my hands and waited quietly in front of the testing room. Kids who came out were all complaining and some cried. They kept on taking off their masks and checked what had happened to their noses. I thought that the test was going to be very painful.
“Next number is 70. 70. 70.” My number echoed in the hall. With my trembling legs, I walked into the testing room. The room was divided into many different booths. There was a nurse in the booth. She had only her arms sticking out of the glass door. I refused to sit and held my dad’s hand. When I finally sat down, the nurse held up a long stick and pushed it into my nose. The stick that traveled deep into the nose felt like a roller coaster in my nose. I checked my nose to see if it had a nosebleed. It felt so much like it. It wasn’t painful, but I had an eerie feeling that my nose was different. I wrinkled my nose trying to notice the difference.
That day, I really prayed to Jesus to make me test negative. When I was doing online class, my mom came into the room with a huge smile and exclaimed, “Thank the lord. Jessica! You are negative.” I turned off my video and shrieked with delight. I took off my mask and smiled all day.
After January 2020, there has been a huge impact on my school life. I met my friends through Zoom. My teacher’s face was shown all online. At first, I felt so excited. I didn’t need to do much work, and I had more time to play. However, as time flew by, that extra time became boring and useless. When I met my friend face to face, her beautiful smile was covered by a mask. Through Zoom, we can use filters to change our face so we can’t know what each other’s faces look like for real. Even when we met, we couldn’t play together at the playground like we had used to. Everyone I saw out there looked like COVID-19 viruses. I needed to avoid them. My distance between friends got larger and larger as my hole of loneliness got deeper and deeper every moment. I couldn’t make any more friends. We had less opportunities to talk to each other and share thoughts. My best friends become just friends. They weren’t important friends in my daily life anymore. Also, I became ashamed of my looks. Using Zoom, I could use filters and make myself look pretty. However, when we started going back to in-person school and it was time to eat lunch, we were forced to show others our real identity. I would look uglier. I would feel ashamed that I lied and hate myself for not being pretty. This led to low self-esteem for a few days.
Fortunately, I was able to get over this low self-esteem. I was worried people would look at my face and get surprised but at lunch time, nobody really looked at my face. Other classmates weren’t really pretty or handsome. So, I want to really take off my mask and play with my best friend. I want to eat Tteokbokki, Sundae, and other school food. I want to go to Lotte World and ride the roller coaster with her. I just want to spend time with my friends normally without masks. Oh, I want to take my mask off and jump a million times with the song “Butter.”
R. (3RD-4TH GRADE)
This is my art for all the new things and apps that have come into my life. The person falling is me going through them and learning how they work.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
For my Story Sharing Project, I decided to use a comic strip to show my feelings during COVID-19. Stress was a big deal for me during COVID-19. It was mostly for my grandparents. School was and still is a bigger deal because it becomes really hard to focus in your home. Staying at home affects how much I go outside and is a constant struggle. Friends are hard to see. We can talk digitally, but other than that, that’s it. All of this has gotten me quite frustrated.
K. W. (8TH GRADE)
This relates to my experience with COVID-19 because over the several months of quarantine, I hoped that each day would bring a new light of hope. Unfortunately, every day to me seems to keep on getting worse. My mental health went completely downhill, and every time things started to get better, something ten times worse seemed to happen. As you may see, I also drew a couple of images. There is no particular reason for why these were drawn except for the fact that while I was stuck at home, I had nothing to do besides draw. I used drawing as a way of therapy even if it was nonsense images, so that is what I did for this project. This year has been a bunch of nonsense that appeared on one darkened day.
S. C. (10TH GRADE)
Time Settled and I Developed Nonexistent Expectations
For my project, I decided to do a mix between black-out poetry and coffee art. For the black-out poetry, I used coffee to blackout the word that I did not want to be selected. The words that I did choose to keep white write out to say, “Time settled and I developed nonexistent expectations.”
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
What this drawing symbolizes is how long we have been in quarantine. I have the Oculus Quest because it is my new favorite thing to do, and with that I can see cool places without leaving the house. All the clocks represent how long I have to stay in there because that’s all I can really do now. If I could draw faces I would, but that is why the VR is so big on my face.
JOHN DOE (10TH GRADE)
In Order to Survive
Surviving means you
Live through your mistakes,
Going through the struggles of your life is one thing,
But living through them,
That takes you on a whole different chapter of your life
But, sometimes you don’t have the strength;
In order to survive
You have to let go of all that you have done wrong
All the mistakes you make,
The things that you fear, the things that hold you
Inside the darkness
You have to be able to let all of this go;
To survive means knowing
When you are unhealthy or weak
Knowing when to get help
Don’t fight frightening fears alone
There are always people willing to support
Help you through the times of struggle;
To survive your own bloodline
You need help…
When your home is now a house
And where there is no more hope,
It drives you to see the rose-red color on your wrist It kills you inside
But that is why there are people to help;
To survive you must contain your emotions
The regret that you feel,
A hand that used to hold you turned to a fist full of anger
Tears composed of sadness and hate
The happiness that you once had
But stolen from you
Resisting the temptation of a heart;
In order to survive, you must love yourself
With all your faults, you will prevail
It doesn’t matter what other people say
Love your flaws
Create happiness, live to the fullest;
Surviving means you must live fully
When your passion becomes your profession,
When you stop comparing yourself to others
and work on self-improvements
When you make time for your loved ones
When you want to cry, but then you are surrounded by people
Who cares enough to give you a hug and tell you everything is
Going to be ok;
Surviving mean to support the ones who cared for you
The ones who stayed standing by your side
That deep feeling of friendship, forgiveness, and happiness
The people who were there to tell you everything is ok
And, that one person,
That makes you feel like the most special person in the world.
This poem focuses on the struggles, or the things that most, if not all, people go through in life. Us as teenagers go through a lot emotionally, and it’s not always the greatest. But by sitting down and taking a deep breath, you come to realize that most of us had people willing to help us — that, within those bad memories, are also good ones; and those are memories worth keeping.
C. P. (8TH GRADE)
For my storytelling project, I decided to do visual art. My inspiration for this project was mainly my family and friends, but I also got inspiration from my community. In my project, I made 4 boxes each representing things that have happened or changed during COVID-19. In the first box, I drew a house with a hammer and a saw above it. The hammer, saw, and house are supposed to represent home improvement. I did this because my family has done this, and I’m sure others have too. In the second box, I drew a big lightbulb which is supposed to represent how we have all been getting creative. In the third box I drew a mask and a vaccine. I did this because it is supposed to represent COVID-19 safety. In the fourth and final box, I drew a hospital. The hospital is supposed to represent the first responders and health care workers.
S. D. (8TH GRADE)
(Trigger warning: depiction and mentions of self-harm.
Art is a form of expression that allows individuals to share important parts of their lives. However, some content like this piece may be upsetting to some viewers. If you or anyone you know is in distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
At your discretion, you can access the student’s work here.)
ANONYMOUS (11TH GRADE)
2020 really changed the way I look in life and my life in general. Quarantine played a big role in my change too. Before 2020, I didn’t know what exactly what I wanted to do in life. I didn’t really have self-confidence and was just a introvert. When 2020 came, I thought it’ll be like every other year, just semi-normal. But that wasn’t the case. The year started off badly; we left school, and out the blue, corona came. It was just a lot to process. Throughout 2020, I saw myself changing how I looked at things and who I hung around. 2020 was kind of a depressing year that I needed. I had time to think about a lot of stuff and let some feelings out. I feel as in the world changed forever, too, because we’re not going to be able to do the things we used to do. Some people might not act the same anymore because they were isolated for so long.
M. J. (8TH GRADE)
C. S. (9TH GRADE)
This poem is a reflection of my thoughts in a tumultuous year that has had a major impact on my life and my family. I wrote these thoughts as I prepared to enter ninth grade.
For me it started in March
Just a whisper on the news.
Such an alien concept that it never worried me.
When I still thought it was easy to defuse,
Then came the lectures,
The concern on my teachers’ faces
The sanitizers all readily collected.
I was riding on the bus when rumors were spread
From student to student about the virus,
That school might be cancelled.
Newborn celebration gradually turned into heavy despair
As two weeks turned into the whole year
Days blurred into distant memories
And terms like “quarantine” and “social distancing” forced their way
Into daily use.
On the television, petrifying headlines of masks and flooded hospitals
Caused chaos and panic.
Protests against racial injustice sound their cries
And families are separated in order to protect.
Yet when there is suffering, humanity overcomes.
Hopeful rainbows shine out of windows, scribbled with love and longing.
We turn to other entertainment, like walks with the whole family
Or lounging by a sunlit creek as water flows over the pebbles.
Instead of staring at screens with yearning,
We’ve written stories, learned about the world around us, and adapted.
Nature has taken this break to evolve and form,
So why shouldn’t we?
H. C. B. (10TH GRADE)
A Mess We’ll Never Clean
These last eight months have felt like eight years
Eight endless, boring, hopeless years
It seems like so long ago
That I have begun to forget
All the little details
Of this proverbial train wreck
March- year 1
It’s too cold
For almost spring
It’s as if mother nature knew
The state of the world
And figured that seeing sunshine and flowers
Wouldn’t be much help
We started with hope
And ended with doubt
Life will go back to normal on April 1st
April- year 2
The first snow finally came on April 10th
Better late than never, I guess
As the white snowflakes fluttered
Onto the freezing ground they screamed, “The world has gone crazy, you better run”
Looking back, I wish I had listened
Life will go back to normal on May 15th
May- year 3
I am starting to get used to this
As all hope crumbles out of my hands
I have learned to grieve its loss
Just like I grieved the loss of a friend
I still think about their family
How they must have felt
Six feet above
Standing six feet apart
10 people 10 minutes
That’s all they got
Life will go back to normal on September 8th
June- year 4
School is almost over now
Time to log off the computer and take a breath
Give this world a chance
To get back on track
I’m happy for the summer
Although I don’t know why
There is nothing to look forward to
I have a feeling there won’t be for a while
Life still isn’t back to normal yet
July- year 5
The weather is beginning to warm
It took long enough
But even with the bright and shining sun
There’s no good reason to smile
I turned 15 the other day
But it doesn’t feel like anything changed
For I am still stuck
Waiting for the world to move ahead
Yet confident we’re only moving back
Life has to go back to normal eventually, right?
August- year 6
My family went on vacation last week
We could no longer wait for the world
We just needed a break
Camped out in a cabin in the woods
Six feet apart with masks, of course
I thought I would have so much time
But all I want to do is sit
Sit and dream of a world
Where life can back to normal once more
September- year 7
I’m finally back in school
A tiny slice of normal has returned
But the pandemic isn’t over yet
All my friends are on a screen
The ones that aren’t won’t talk to me
I have more work than I’ve ever seen
I don’t know why, but I just want to scream
The world’s gone crazy, of that I am sure
But I simply cannot take this anymore
It’s sad to think about the past
This is the new normal, we aren’t going back
October- year 8
I cried on my bedroom floor the other night
I just needed to let
My salty tears soak my stained t-shirt
As I curled up into a ball and sobbed
There are so many reasons to cry these days
I cried because of the stress which has slowly swallowed me
I cried for the loss of my creative passions
I cried because I know I’ll never see my best friend again
I cried because I’ve forgotten how to speak my mind
And I’m tired of pretending I’m okay
When I’ve never really been fine
But most of all
I cried for this broken world
A world defined by a single word
In eight months, this word changed the world
And now here we are
Trying to clean up its mess
This poem takes the reader through each month of my experience during quarantine from March to October. When writing the poem, I was trying to show how much changed in just a few months, and how with each passing month the hope that we would be able to return to “normal” became more and more of a fantasy. I also tried to show how the growing hopelessness and stress slowly piled on as time went by.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
I drew this drawing because the items and things on my drawing are things that helped me get through quarantine. The picture on the right is a picture of a teenager riding a bike, representing me riding my bike when I’m bored and grabbing Chick-Fil-A and a sunset in the background. It also represents my mood during quarantine and the feeling of being lonely. The left is a picture of my PS4 and Call of Duty. I play video games to help make time fly, distracting me from losses in family due to COVID-19 and soothing my feelings. It helps me to replace my sadness with happiness when playing with friends and winning.
G. E. (8TH GRADE)
This is an essay on how the pandemic has impacted me and how I think it will impact our future.
The pandemic has been quite an adventure for me. It has been an adventure for everyone, in various different ways. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the pandemic, but it has changed me for the better.
One way that the pandemic has changed my life is by making me take my health a lot more seriously. Before the pandemic, I had basic hygiene skills, but I never really thought about it too much. During the pandemic, however, I always made sure to wash my hands often, try not to high five or give handshakes to other people, and cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze, even while wearing a mask.
Another way that COVID-19 has affected me is by showing me that I can do school online.
If someone had asked me if I could do school at home before the pandemic, I would have probably said that it would be too hard. Now, though, I feel like I could do school from home again if I had to. I also feel like I can be more independent now because I didn’t really need anyone to keep me on track through online learning.
One other way that the pandemic has affected me was that I had a lot more time to spend at home, which I don’t think I valued enough before the pandemic. I tended to be in as many school activities and clubs as I could, and when all of them were cancelled, I realized that I didn’t know what to do with all my free time. I found activities that I could do at home like playing board games and doing puzzles, all of which were things I enjoyed and rarely had enough time to do before. Moving past the pandemic, I will make time for relaxing activities, even while staying invested in school activities.
Some things that I enjoyed during the pandemic and want to take forward include spending more time with my family and going outside more. My family was always busy before the pandemic, and we rarely did things as a family. I hope that after the pandemic, this new habit continues. I also wasn’t outside as much before the pandemic, because I didn’t really see the point in out. Now, though, I realize that going outside more makes me happier, and also healthier, because I am getting more exercise.
Overall, I think that after the pandemic, people will be healthier, spend more time outside, and spend more time with their families. These are good habits that started for many people due to the pandemic, and I think that people will continue to use these habits throughout their lives.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
One of the many things that has been going bad during the pandemic is when you are getting bored of everything that is usually fun and exciting.
Another thing is that getting stuff done is way more difficult and time-consuming than it would usually be if you were actually at school.
The last thing would be if you were sleeping in on a school night, you wake up and don’t want to get up and go online for school.
Many things have changed in families during this pandemic, including spending less and less time with your family.
Also, going on less road trips or walks with your family and more time being lazy at home.
One of the other problems could be not talking and ignoring your family and just caring less about them.
The final problem is if you are spending less time with people you care about, you can develop depression or anxiety.
Things you have overcome
I have overcome being bored all of the time and instead watch movies with my dad one to two times a month.
Something else I have done is by asking for help whenever I need it.
The final thing I have overcome during the pandemic is spending more time with my dog and my grandparents.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
MEDIUM GEORGE (9TH GRADE)
My COVID Experience
With any project I do, I prefer to write through it rather than create a picture. This essay is basically a journal: the first large portion of the essay (paragraphs 1-11) was written around March, and the rest was done by me around April. In early June, I finished the project. The idea for it was simple–just an essay where I emphasized the more emotionally important aspects of events–but it took a while to get right, as I was trying to figure out where emotions ended and context began. I found a stopping point at getting my vaccine.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
How this drawing relates to my experience during 2020: the cup noodles is when my mom and dad got coronavirus and I ate a lot of cup noodles. The phone shows the news of the rioters raiding the capital and TV shows. The computer represents my time on online school.
C. L. (12TH GRADE)
A lot of people were used to going out all the time before the pandemic happened, and now they miss that and wish they could go out again. For me, being a very introverted person, staying home isn’t an issue. I don’t find many things difficult. Though, I have family members that had COVID-19 and even some who passed away. Occasionally, I’ll miss going out to do certain things, but I know that staying home is the best option to protect myself and others. During this time, I’d say that I really haven’t learned much about myself that I didn’t already know.
Frontline workers represent the people that are working during this pandemic that communities depend on. Some examples would be nurses, doctors, firefighters, and essential workers, as well as grocery store workers.
For me, I want to be a frontline worker. At the moment, I am still deciding between a few options, but they all have to do with the medical field.
Stop the Spread is to stop the spread of COVID-19. This can be done by wearing masks and washing your hands as much as possible. Hand sanitizer would work if you are somewhere where a sink is not available. For me, it is actually really easy to do. It’s easy to stick to guidelines when you have people’s best interests at heart.
Viral Load is the amount of the virus in a person. Saliva or any other bodily fluid can carry viral load. If a person was to sneeze, they could give that viral load to another person. I hardly ever go out, so I never really see this happening; though, I bet it happens more than it should. We need to wear masks to prevent the spread of this virus.
Lockdown: Lockdown is staying home for weeks or a longer period of time. The lockdown can get lonely and boring, but now you get lots of time for self-improvement and catching up on old shows you missed out on. The only ones out were adults with essential jobs or people who didn’t care about the pandemic.
Contactless delivery is all forms of a delivery done without contact with the person delivering it. I haven’t experienced it since drivers don’t want to drive this far out where I live, but I would like to try it.
Long-Hauler: Someone who has COVID-19 for 24 days or more, a period much longer than the normal patient, who usually is sick for 14 days. A long-hauler is also someone who’s been in the quarantine for a long time, living off of contactless delivery and working from home. I Imagine it is like the worst time that you’ve ever been sick, and your family can’t hug you.
Zoom: An online program that helps teachers, bosses, coworkers, students, etc. be in a meeting and stay connected. Zoom allows peo- ple to video chat and converse with one another. For example, teachers use zoom to talk to their students and instruct class while they aren’t able to be at school.
Zooming is really boring and I just want to go back to school and get motivated again. I dislike doing school at home since I get distracted easily and lazy. Although zoom is an easy website to use I would rather be at school. Sometimes I regret all the times I said I wish we never came back to school.
New Normal is adjusting to all the requirements needed to help stop the spread of covid and to get closer to our past normal life. The new normal is wearing a mask, staying six feet away from people, wearing sanitizer everywhere you go. The way I am adjusting to our new normal is by wearing a mask and trying to stay 6 feet away from people. Although sometimes it’s hard to keep a distance from people I still try my hardest. I also always carry hand sanitizer so I can use it when I touch things. Although I am adjusting to the new normal, I still wish how life was before the pandemic.
Social Distancing: To stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms lengths) from other people who are not from your household both indoor and out- door. Social distancing is really important to me because it is important to stay away from people to help prevent the spread of covid. Staying six feet away from people gives you safety as well as other people. Social distancing can be difficult at times for me when I am in a hurry. I just want to get things done, but I am good at remembering to do it.
A. D. (11TH GRADE)
I only go out to see two friends twice, maybe three times, a month — and it’s just them! I miss the movies and events that have lots of people. Now it seems kind of crazy to have so many people in one spot.
Well, I learned that my hair was actually curly since the barber shops closed for a while. My hair grew out, and I like it better now.
It’s also good that everyone has more alone time but….this is a little too much me sometimes. I also I miss walking. I’m just stuck in the house normally from morning until night. I have this urge to go on a long run.
Loneliness, truth, and screens are words that represent the pandemic for me. “Loneliness” because I’m always alone and it kind of sucks not having people to talk to. Like being in a fancy cell. “Truth” because you see what you truly care about and what other people care about. For example, you may have had a friend before the pandemic, but with so much time apart, you both start to drift apart. “Screens” are everywhere, all the time: Zoom, homework, Netflix, YouTube, and more — first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed.
I want to go to the fair again and hang out with friends without fear, but I guess this will teach us to be more appreciative of what we do have.
M. B. G. (12TH GRADE)
The pandemic came unexpectedly to everyone all around the world. We had to make adjustments to our lives and continue moving forward. Online school has kicked my butt lately since I tend to learn more in person. Being at home doesn’t make me as motivated as I would be if I was at school. Although I wish our lives could go back to normal, I understand we have to make as many adjustments to get over COVID-19. During all these months we have stayed at home, I have learned that I am the most motivated when I am not home. Not being at home makes me take more risks and reach for my goals. I am not the type of person to always want to be alone; I like being around people and staying productive.
R. H. (9TH GRADE)
Where I Am
From March to March the year’s gone by
I can’t say I really mind
Sitting home is nothing new
For me at least that is true
For my siblings it is not
They can’t Stand the Change at all
But all of that’s beside the point
What you really asked was-
“What will change”
I don’t know
My dad says buffets will never be the same (there are
other things he probably thinks, but those thoughts are
not for my ears to hear)
I’m not sure if I can speak of change
for me this is still just a phase
It will pass and we will adapt
Human instinct and drive to survive will carry us through
And the trouble we face shall be subdued
I hope that is true.
You also asked,
“What do you feel”
And I have to say…
for awhile I felt nothing
It all seemed like a long joke
Sometimes I still feel this way.
I think when I am older and look back on this time
I will see the horror
And discomfort in my life
But as it is right now
I don’t really think this is a good thing
But it’s where I am.
N. B. (10TH GRADE)
What it is Like to be a Student Athlete
COVID-19 has drastically changed the lives of the whole world. People have gone online for many day-to-day activities. However, just virtual isn’t possible for student athletes. This article explores the lives of 3 different athletes at B. High School and how their everyday lives have been affected by the global pandemic, including not being able to practice, problems with team morale, and the unequal effects on different sports.
There’s a general sense of unease in the air whenever one gets close to another. Nobody even blinks when Coach takes their temperature outside of the science wing. The bleachers are barren. The inside jokes and sense of community within the team can feel like a faraway dream.
Sophomore R.N. starts her day around 7 a.m. It’s the morning of Dec. 10, 2020, and during pre- pandemic times, R.N. would have already been in the pool with the rest of her teammates.
Today is different.
Today, R.N. will attend her first swim meet of the season. She’s nervous, but ready to compete and finally show what she can do. But first, R.N. must log onto her computer and complete online school for the day, something she never could have imagined a year ago.
“The day of the competition, I also had a math test,” R.N. said. “The test was pushed back because of technical difficulties. I tried not to stress to prevent doing poorly on the test, but I also knew that I had a meet coming up.”
After the test, R.N. rushes over to L. High School for the swim meet. Last year at this time, it would have been the fourth swim meet of the season, but the pandemic disrupted swim practice just like it affected most things this year.
“We weren’t able to practice because the B. High School pool had been broken all semester,”
R.N. is disappointed that the pool wasn’t fixed a long time ago because many of her teammates couldn’t swim for six to eight months. Fortunately, R.N. swims for the Elite club team, so she isn’t totally unprepared.
“I was lucky that I had the opportunity to swim for my club team in the neighborhood after school,” R.N. said.
Because the B. High School pool was broken since the beginning of the year, this first meet of the season is also her first meeting with the new B. High School swim coach.
“They had practices the week of the meet, but I wasn’t able to attend just because of COVID-19 concerns,” R.N. said. “So going to L. High School, I’m meeting my coach for the very first time. A little bit awkward.”
With the school having more pressing concerns, R.N. understands why they never got around to fixing the pool, but is frustrated she couldn’t connect with either her team or her coach, a rather unconventional aspect to this unconventional season. Although they can practice now, it’s still different than a year ago.
“There’s only a limited amount of people they can have at the pool this year, but the max I think we ever had show up to practice was eight people out of 65 on the team,” R.N. said. “There’s a lot of freshmen that show up to practices who don’t know any- body, and I feel like they’re isolated from the rest of the team. There just hasn’t been the same energy this year, and that’s obviously because we haven’t been able to have the same social events or team interaction that we had previously.”
Even with the disadvantages of this school year, R.N. pushed through at the swim meet.
“For my individual event,” R.N. said, “I kept the same time I had from last year, which, considering the pandemic and the fact that that was my first meet in six months, I guess that’s pretty good.”
Sophomore K.B.’s most recent volleyball tournament produced a much more frightening outcome.
She caught COVID-19.
“I either got it from [the tournament] or practice because I don’t leave my house,” K.B. said. “Only one of my teammates tested positive, but they don’t have any symptoms. I do. I know it doesn’t seem like it because I’m acting peppy and already got all of my coughs out for today,” she said with a smile.
“I already have some respiratory issues, and I have a bunch of symptoms,” K.B. said. “I can’t taste or smell anything. I keep forgetting, and I’m like, ‘Why can’t I taste my toothpaste?’ or I go to smell a candle, and I’m like, ‘What the heck?’”
Ever the optimist, K.B. revealed there were upsides to her COVID quarantine: getting the bathroom all to herself, having more time to study and her family bringing her food like “peasants.” Still, it’s hard.
“It was very lonely because I wanted to go downstairs and see my dog who wasn’t allowed upstairs,” K.B. said. “Twice my dad brought up the dog and let him run across the hallway while I sat in my doorway so that I could see him and give him cuddles, but then he had to go away and it was very sad.”
Her high school season ended early because multiple schools’ teams couldn’t play. They simply didn’t have enough players due to COVID-19. Even K.B.’s JV team only totaled nine players this year when usually they had 12 to 13. K.B. admitted she is happy the school season is over.
On top of dealing with volleyball tournaments and a shortage of players, K.B. missed a lot of tests, quizzes and content hours because she left early to go to games.
Varsity golf player and senior J.M. said COVID-19 did not drastically affect the team.
“Golf is an outdoor sport and you’re not really touching anybody,” J.M. said. “You have to wear masks when you are coming up to the hole and then just space yourself and keep social distance. Other than that, not much has changed.”
J.M. said that even with school, it’s manageable to handle every- thing, but it wasn’t always that way.
“My freshman year I did volleyball, basketball and track,” J.M. said. “Then as time went on, school got harder. My sophomore year, I just did basketball and golf, and now junior and senior year I’m just doing golf. It can still be a bit difficult, but at the same time, teachers are understanding of student-athletes. If you are doing more than one sport, and they see that you’re trying. They kind of help you out, which is great. So it’s kind of a gray area, depending on what type of student you are.”
She adds that it’s different from team sports that have to practice every day and have weekend tournaments. There’s a lot less time that needs to be dedicated to practicing, at least for J.M., who started playing when she was 2 and still loves it.
For these students athletes, competing and continuing in the sports they are passionate about connects them to their pre-pandemic lives.
Referring to her December swim meet, R.N. said, “It was exciting to be able to feel some kind of sense of normalcy.”
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
Before the quarantine I took weekly bike rides with my family to go get donuts. I wasn’t really all that confident at riding. I hated it when I had to lead the way, mainly because I didn’t like intersections and, especially, turning left. We did this for a few months, and I didn’t really gain that much confidence. Looking back on it now, this was probably because I did not have to go by myself.
When COVID-19 hit in the United States, I didn’t have a good way to meet with any of my friends. One of us came up with the idea to do bike rides every once in a while, and because of my lack of skill and knowledge I was hesitant to join in. Because of this, I had a good enough reason to do more bike rides with my family to know my way around town. After a few weeks, I learned how to navigate on my own. So, because of COVID-19, I learned how to ride my bike, and despite the quarantine, I have scheduled weekly bike rides with my friends.
These bike rides are one of the few things getting me through this pandemic. We can act like normal kids (with extra accessories — face masks). It lets me get out of the house and away from my little brother. Sometimes we get ourselves hamburgers and milkshakes, too!
B. M. B. (HIGH SCHOOL)
Bellmore Merrick Broadcasting is a four-year broadcasting program housed at Mepham High School in Bellmore N.Y.. On March 13th, 2020, our students left school thinking they’d be out for two days. Some of the students met up and filmed one of our weekly shows remotely over that weekend “just” to see if they could produce remotely. Produce they did. We did not return to school until September, but BMB NEVER went off the air. Our students produced eighty seven daily remote broadcasts, thirteen weekly broadcasts, two remote Game Nights, a remote fundraiser and a remote concert through June. We then returned to full in studio coverage in September. In addition to our usual weekly broadcasts our students also produced these pandemic related specials. The past fifteen months has been a journey of dedication, commitment and success for all of our students.
K. C. (12TH GRADE)
The Best and Worst of Times: A 12th Grader’s Tale
Despite this being the hardest year in academic life, there have been some amazing bright spots thanks to my teachers.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens might as well have been writing about the life of a high school senior during a global pandemic. On March 12, 2020, I was attending in-person office hours when the call came that our C.A. High School was closing because of COVID-19.
It felt like we entered the Twilight Zone that day — everything changed. My junior year should have been filled with Disneyland trips, barbeques, and dances to give us fond feelings on the way out to summer break. Instead, my school pushed the pause button on all activities until they could figure out what students needed to be able to continue to learn effectively.
I applied to colleges and universities without ever having seen them in person because all tours had been canceled. After taking my school’s SAT Prep course, I applied without an SAT score because my exams were canceled five times. Tennis season was canceled, or at least postponed. There was no Junior Prom and there will likely be no Senior Prom, no special events, and no activities.
But school resumed last fall in an altered format. I was one of the lucky ones, as I never had to worry about my access to the curriculum or the availability of my teachers. I was sad to miss in-person classes, but I was able to continue classes in a virtual setting. Our curriculum is delivered through the Summit Learning platform, so I always had access to the material despite the campus being closed. My AP teachers sought out a wide variety of resources to help us prepare for the changes in exams. The College Board changed up everything and hosted virtual study sessions to communicate those changes, answer our questions, and bolster our confidence going into testing season.
Even as school continued, I was increasingly distracted. With the world paused, it was harder to accomplish the little things because of the extra stress of the pandemic. Somehow things became both more and less urgent simultaneously as the days/weeks/months dragged on. Fortunately, we had mentors.
My mentor actively worked to support me both academically and personally. Every student was assigned a staff member to meet with weekly through Zoom calls, phone calls, and even Along video messaging. We worked together to develop honest and open lines of communication. This mentoring effort multiplied exponentially as we went through these unprecedented times together. There was never a moment where I felt that if something bad happened or my family got sick that I couldn’t reach out and receive grace and ample support. During the college application push, every week my mentor and I discussed where I applied, how the application or interview went, and how she could help me. We also talked about how differently my senior year looked than what I had planned it to be.
With my mentor’s help and a planner, I found ways to balance my academics and activities that I enjoyed. I love to bake, and for a while during quarantine, I made weekly fresh homemade sourdough bread from my pet sourdough named F.R.E.D. (For Ridiculously Everlasting Dough). I also love reading, and thankfully the bookstores were happy to ship! While the pandemic took away activities outside of school and many high school experiences, it also gave me more time to spend with my family before I leave for college.
I learned some things about myself that I may not have realized in the frenzy of a “regular” school year, such as how I am still totally a morning person; too much sourdough can make you fluffy; it is very important to reach out and connect with others; true friends make the effort to stay in touch, and you can create relationships with people even if you can’t see them every day; virtual college tours are not the same; and meaningful connections with teachers make all the difference.
While high school experiences vary immensely during a pandemic, this final year of high school really wasn’t “the worst of times” for me. A year later, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the college acceptance letters are arriving. My school has been supportive, and I have had the opportunity to practice life-long skills such as perseverance, flexibility, and a growth mindset. While I am certainly looking forward to a future without “social distancing,” there are elements of the past year that I hope will continue post-pandemic, including a sincere relationship with a teacher/mentor, a life-balance achieved through planning and prioritizing, and a focus on meaningful activities — such as spending time with loved ones and doing activities that bring happiness.
M. M. (8TH GRADE)
This is my creation of Boondocks and Demon Slayer and Akatsuki/Naruto. I morphed the looks together to make one.
Drawing has got me through quarantine, and it really helped being in the STEAM group with Ms. T. It helps ease the pain quarantine has brought.
V. F. (4TH GRADE)
I painted the Masked Earth to represent my pandemic experience. Because my parents wanted to keep me safe, I didn’t go back to my old school and was homeschooled instead by my mom this year. During homeschool, I learned about global warming. I painted the Earth because we cannot ignore what humans are doing to the environment. Earth is also wearing a mask because my family has heavily quarantined and social distanced since March 13, 2020. We rarely see other people, and when we do, we wear masks. The Masked Earth is sick with COVID-19. A rainbow surrounds the Earth to show that I believe all people are equal, no matter what color of the rainbow. In homeschool, I studied racism and politics, and know that the future is with young people like me. We believe in being kind, taking care of the Earth, and loving our neighbors and others.
ANONYMOUS (8TH GRADE)
Just Keep Moving Forward
I drew a road going forward because this pandemic has pushed us back in terms of the economy, school, etc., but life moves on and so should we. We should adapt to the changes around us and move forward. I also drew a river, a beautiful sunset, and mountains because some people may have a not-so-pretty past, but if you focus on the future and yourself, your future can be beautiful and bright!
At Geyserville New Tech Academy, the 2020–21 school year began with distance learning. On their first day of school, students picked up Chromebooks, textbooks and other school supplies. Students in Ms. Makino’s Middle and High School Art classes studied the work of American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, whose powerful photos of the Great Depression humanized the plight of those struggling economically.
In the tradition of documentary photography like hers, the students’ assignment was to photograph, in black and white, what their home life looked and felt like during this unprecedented pandemic. They also each took a family portrait. Poignant and intimate, these photos offer a window into a strange chapter in our lives.
D. S. (7TH GRADE)
W. P. (7TH GRADE)
J. C. (8TH GRADE)
A. D. (11TH GRADE)
C. L. (12TH GRADE)
M. B. G. (12TH GRADE)
MS. M (TEACHER)
A. C. (2ND GRADE)
K. S. (5TH GRADE)
S. F. (5TH GRADE)
E. M. (9TH GRADE)
RAMEN (10TH GRADE)
ANONYMOUS (10TH GRADE)
C. F. (11TH GRADE)
M. H. (11TH GRADE)
B. M. B. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS