We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofBrooke Ray

I was sitting in my seventh grade history class, doing a cut and glue assignment on Friday, March 13, 2020, at around 2:45 p.m. when my principal came over the intercom and said that school was let out for two weeks. For me, at least I thought that we were going to be able to come back to school in two weeks, so I didn’t really say goodbye to my friends and more importantly my teachers. The only thing that seemed weird to me was that we had to take everything out of our lockers and out of the classrooms so the janitors could disinfect everything. All I knew in the last few minutes of what would be the last day of normal school for right now was that for the next two weeks I did not have to worry about any school work, and I could hang out with my friends a lot. 

At the beginning of the next week, I got a call from the school saying that we would be out of school for the next month, and when I heard that I was upset, but I thought that we were still going to be able to go back to school. Later in the week, I got another phone call from the school, and they said that school was let out for the whole year. Within these few days I heard the worst news that I could have heard, but it has led me to the story I am about to tell. 

The reason that we were let out of school for the year was because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic has caused America to basically go into lockdown. People are only supposed to go outside of their house if they need groceries, and when you go out you have to wear a mask and try to stay six feet apart. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has been a hard thing to go through, it is very important to me because it has helped me see America from a new perspective. I have been able to see that America is sad and worried. We are sad because we are seeing our families and neighbors and our local communities get sick and some even dying. We are also sad because we have been seeing our local businesses start to shut down because they don’t have enough business. We are worried because we don’t know if we will be able to get back to a normal life, and we don’t know if businesses will survive through this. I have gained so much respect for everyone who is going through this because it is very hard to go through. 

It was Saturday, November 28, 2020, when I realized I had been taking life for granted. My family and I went towards Washington, D.C., to go to a Christmas light show, and my great-grandmother lived close, so we went to see her. When we got there, my mom and dad said that we had to wear our masks and use hand sanitizer in order to go inside. After we came back outside and got into the car to go home, I realized that I was taking life and things for granted. I do not get to see my great-grandmother that often since she lives down in the city, so when I do get to see her it means a lot to me. I had not seen my great-grandmother in a little over a year, and when I got to see her I could not even hug her, which really broke my heart. I thought that it was weird that in order to go inside and keep everyone safe we had to wear masks and keep our hands clean. It is insane to think that ten months ago everyone could go outside and go places without wearing a mask or worry about getting themselves or anyone sick and maybe even dying. 

Even though in America the Covid-19 pandemic is still going on, I have already learned not to take things and life for granted and to take in every minute that you have because you never know what is going to happen. I now go out into the world and love everything around me and take in every moment I have with my family and friends.

© Brooke Ray. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.