March 2020. The month it all started. We got the announcement that school was going to be out for three weeks. Everyone was excited because we wouldn't have school for a few weeks. I was excited to do school from home and then come back. When we started doing virtual school it meant only assignments in Google classroom and no live meetings. I was loving it at this point because I didn't have to get dressed or out of bed and the assignments were pretty self-explanatory.
After the three weeks of not being in school, I was starting to get worried it was going to be longer than originally planned. I was missing school but mostly missed seeing and hanging out with my friends. I wanted to go back. It was almost May and we had a big end-of-the-year seventh-grade field trip. This was the three-day field trip that every seventh-grader was always excited about going on. I heard of all the fun things to do from my sister sharing about it when she went. It was exciting to talk to my friends about what activities I chose. We hoped to do the same activities so we could be in the same cabin. We had so much hope. Then, we heard the sad news that because Covid cases were getting worse we could not go for the field trip. I was devastated because we were all looking forward to the trip, and it just disappeared.
At the end of the year, I didn't know what to expect when school started up again, but summer went by quicker with not seeing friends and family very often and being inside. For me, the mask requirement was kind of hard to comprehend because only doctors wore masks. This was the first of many big changes to how we live. First, it was the shortage of hand sanitizer, wipes, and toilet paper, but then got worse with the more important things like protests about the inequality that still happens in our world today. I didn’t know how to feel at this point with everything happening at once, but I was more curious about what lay ahead.
Summer ended and I hoped for the year to be better; I hoped that 8th grade would be a good year and things would go back to normal; I just wanted things to be normal. As school began, I did not know what to expect. There were two options: virtual and hybrid. Everyone had their plans. I chose hybrid, which was pretty odd to adjust to between online and in-person classes. I did not like the system that the school set up with A and B students because it was based on everyone's last name in alphabetical order. Friends were what I missed most about school and I didn't have very many of my friends in any of my classes. Hybrid didn’t last long though. Soon, everyone had to change back to virtual learning.
Now I am back doing in-person classes, still without many friends. This whole experience has changed my perspective. I appreciate how much spending time with friends and family should be valued, especially with all the love and kindness given to my family after my dad’s passing just a couple of months ago. I have learned how to cope with a new lifestyle that I now have to live with each step along my journey.
© Jaela Wooden. 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.