With a pandemic on the rise, how are high school students coping?

By Nina Popovic

Classes have gone online and many school-sanctioned activities have been cancelled or postponed, including sports, school trips, extracurricular activities and graduation events – there’s no question that high-school students have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the most part, students have found ways to stay optimistic and busy during the quarantine. Many of us at Glebe Collegiate have been learning new skills and hobbies and staying in touch with friends through social media. However, we are wor­ried about how our post-secondary plans will pan out, and we are mourn­ing the loss of many of our beloved extracurriculars and end-of-year events.

With the rise of technology and social media, it is quite easy for teen­agers to communicate virtually with peers. We have been rediscovering ways to utilize familiar platforms such as Instagram, FaceTime, iMes­sage and Snapchat to stay in touch. Platforms like Google Hangouts and Zoom have become key in main­taining connection with our teachers and family members.

Besides staying in contact virtu­ally, many of us have adapted our lifestyles and schedules to boost mor­ale and stay busy. Students have found that creating a schedule of activities helps them to organize their time and accomplish more during the day. These activities include online school­work, family time, exercise and new hobbies, like learning a new language, playing musical instruments, cooking or reading.

“It’s so vital to stay busy during these times,” said one Grade 12 stu­dent. “I think I would actually lose it if I was moping around all day.”

Graduating students may be experi­encing more stress and anxiety than others. Although many have already been accepted to university programs, it’s still uncertain whether campuses will re-open in September. Many also wonder how they’ll be able to adjust to the rhythm of university or college without having experienced the final months of high school. “It feels like a very premature and abrupt intro­duction to the real world,” confessed another graduating student.

All students worry about falling behind in school, about how their friends are doing and about those hit hardest by the pandemic, like essential workers and small business owners. Many find it hard to stay motivated, especially when working on tasks without firm deadlines. And surpris­ingly, spending all your time cooped up in your own house with only your family can cause tension.

The lack of extracurricular activ­ities is another cause for mourning. Those who participated in music groups such as choir or band, sports teams and board game clubs are upset to be missing out, graduating students especially. “It was my wind-down, and second family, really,” said one student about the board game club at his school. “Considering it was my last year, I really feel like it was cut short.”

Despite all the uncertainty many students are keeping their spirits up and hope that special end-of-year events like prom will still take place someday. “I doubt that they won’t hap­pen at all,” said one student. “Even if they do happen later in the year, it’s still better than not having prom at all.”

Nevertheless, any experience is a good experience, no matter how wacky it is. Although much is out of our control, we can stay optimistic, stay focused on our studies and do our part to flatten the curve.

Nina Popovic is a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute. She has been involved in the Glebe Gazette for the past two years, and also enjoys creative writing outside of school activities.

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