My pandemic journal


As part of my English class this year, we kept journals and wrote in them a couple times a week about various prompts or even just for free writing.  Here are some of my entries over the course of the past school year.


Something that I have been really appreciating lately is my job. Over the past year and a half, I have kept my job as a hostess at a restaurant. Though my job is easy (for the most part) it can definitely be tiring to be running around the whole shift. Nonetheless, I am so thankful that I have this job in my life due to the relationships it has introduced me to.

I find that most people my age who are employed tend to find themselves moving from job to job, never keeping a job for more than a few months because they dislike it so much. With my job, however, this has not been the case because I enjoy it so much. At work, I have developed some of my closest friendships with my coworkers whom I never knew before I worked. Not only do these people help to keep my job lively, but they make it so that I am excited to go to work. Moreover, my coworkers have never failed to brighten my day at some of my lowest points. No matter how I may walk in or how difficult customers may be, I find myself leaving every shift – yes, every shift – with a genuine smile on my face.  

Thinking towards the future, it is likely that I will have to quit this job when I start college next fall, which not only makes me anxious towards my future but also sorry that I won’t be able to see my friends nearly as much as I do now. While my job is helping me to save for college – something which I also greatly appreciate my job for – I will undoubtedly miss my job once I am set on my path to college.

Other Responsibilities

While balancing remote learning and Zoom classes during the school day, I am now more responsible for upkeep of the house. Since I live with my mother and sister – who are usually at work during the day – I am usually by myself. In a sense, this has made it my responsibility to help clean around the house and make sure daily chores such as vacuuming and washing the dishes get done because I am the only person home. In all honesty, this is not very hard for me to do since I try not to make a mess in the first place and always clean up after myself.

In addition to these “household” tasks, I feel it is my own personal responsibility to help out my sister during her junior year of college. On top of her work-heavy classes for the semester, she is working a full-time job, usually working 6 days a week. She rarely asks me for help, but I feel that I should be doing whatever I can to help her as she navigates through some of the same online school changes that I am. Though she tries to hide it, I can tell that this has been one of the most stressful times that she’s ever experienced. I know that feeling of being overwhelmed myself, which makes me more eager to help in whatever way I can.

Compared to real-life school, I have more tasks to do during the school day versus before. However, I am able to work significantly more than I did during in-person school because I now have the time to get ready for work while managing my classes simultaneously. If everything were normal right now, I would be nearing my last high school field hockey game of the season (and my life). Since this has been cancelled for the time-being (and most likely the rest of the school years, along with cheering and softball which I am even more saddened by), I have more free time in the day so that I can work instead of attending such extracurricular commitments.

Favorite Zoom Class Activity

So far, my favorite Zoom class activity has been playing Kahoot. For the past year or two before online school, it seemed that my teachers were becoming more familiar with incorporating technology into their lessons (a skill that they likely thought would be helpful but not a definite need to teach their future classes). As a result, I had already been introduced to Kahoot before online school. Kahoot allows you to answer questions in a way so that you can compete with your classmates to get the fastest correct response. I enjoy friendly competitions like these, which makes Kahoot a useful Zoom tool because you are truly able to learn while also having fun.

A new, enjoyable Zoom activity that I have begun to use this year is Jamboard. Jamboard is a platform where students and teachers all share the same blank white screen. From there, both the teacher and students can add sticky notes, text boxes and images to respond to a question or idea. Since the whole class can see your response, it can be helpful to use a Jamboard to see if students have reached a consensus on a topic or are still relatively divided. 

Just like a Jamboard, teachers have used Pear Deck to share their slides. With Pear Deck, however, you are able to highlight information and add notes to a slide as the teacher is talking. Once the slideshow ends, the teacher can send you a copy of the slideshow with all of your annotations on the slides. I love to take notes as a teacher is talking because it helps me to better understand the material. Since there has been less on-paper notes it has become more difficult for me to add my own notes in the margins as a teacher talks. By using Pear Deck, I have been able to address this issue better as compared to the teacher simply presenting a Google Slides presentation on their screen share.

My Zoom Work Space

For the first couple of weeks of school, I did not have a real “work space” to do my school work from. At first, I was literally working on my school work at the kitchen table, which was not a problem until my mom got home from work or my sister began to get ready for work. It certainly did not take long to realize that this configuration could not work for the rest of the year. 

As a new change, I decided to move from my kitchen to my bed. While I was out of my sister and mother’s way, I felt extremely unproductive because I could not focus on the material. To me, when I am in bed it is time to rest. During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I remember trying to study for tests in my bed but I would eventually just fall asleep, sometimes with my binder on my lap, because my body just naturally wanted to sleep in bed.

Recently, I have made the switch from my room to my sister’s desk. Before she didn’t really allow me to use this space so that she could stay organized with her work. However, because she is at work so often and doesn’t mind doing work from her bed, I have been able to use her desk as my own for online school. Though there are still distractions from being at home, I have been able to be significantly more productive compared to where I have worked before. I personally feel sorry for those who don’t have a choice but to work from their beds or some other “non-school-like” place in their homes because, based on my personal experiences, working from a place that you would not usually do work from makes it so much harder to get the work done as compared to in-person school.

Awkward or Funny Zoom Moments 

Throughout the first month of school, there have definitely been several awkward instances for myself, teachers and other students alike on Zoom. For myself, there have been several times where I have accidentally turned on my camera when I didn’t want to. In the comfort of my home, I don’t feel the same pressures that I did in in-person school to make sure my hair looks just right or to make sure that my outfit is cute, etc. I am also self-conscious of my appearance, so having the camera turn on accidentally makes me feel as though I am having a mini-heart attack because I am so worried about how others will think of me.

On a funnier note, my teachers – specifically their kids – have helped to make me smile during class. One of my teachers has two toddlers and two daughters that are in elementary school. So far, there hasn’t been a class where they haven’t popped in to ask a random question or try to say “hi” to the class. This past class, for example, my teacher was trying to teach her lesson and one of her toddler came up to her, looking extremely antsy. He was obviously eager to ask his question, so my teacher asked him what was wrong and he responded: “Can I have marshmallows and chocolate chips – PRETTY PLEASE? PRETTY, PRETTY PLEASE?” In all honesty it was one of the cutest things I have ever seen just because of how innocently he asked his question and how genuinely excited he was over a marshmallow. Though I can’t stand when awkward or funny moments on Zoom happen to myself, “Zoom-bombing,” at times, doesn’t fail to brighten my day.

New Hobbies

Over the course of quarantine, I have developed several new hobbies. At the very beginning of quarantine, I became obsessed with baking. When I bake, I feel distracted from the outside world and at peace with myself. I first started this hobby by baking chocolate chip cookies, though I eventually moved on from these staple cookies and found a love for baking cakes. I am nowhere near as good as a baker, but I am able to frost simple designs like roses onto a cake so that it looks like a simple round cake from an Italian bakery. Recently I haven’t had much time for baking, yet it is likely that I will get back into baking as the weather gets colder.

In addition to baking, I have also developed a hobby of taking long walks. As I previously mentioned, I was especially bummed about being stuck in the house during quarantine because I could not stay physically active with sports. When gyms first reopened, I still wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being inside a closed gym. As a result, I turned to whatever I could do outside, like walking. Whenever I can now, I like to talk long walks to clear my head and feel a sense of accomplishment. Mostly on the weekends, I try to walk about 4 miles in the mornings. After walking in the morning, I feel like I have not only done something productive for the day, but that I have also had enough time to think about whatever is stressing me out so that I can think of a way to deal with that stressor.

Student Creators

A person that I know who has created something meaningful is Ann Laurie. Ann Laurie was one of my classmates in AP Biology, Pre-Calculus and RAD last year, and I have nothing but nice things to say about her. During one of our RAD classes last year, she mentioned that she was starting up the “Young Black Excellence” Club at EHS, a club which talks about racial injustices facing the black community and tries to come up with solutions to resolve these issues.

Immediately after she told my class this, it became apparent that a club like this was needed at Everett High School. Since Everett has such a diverse student population, it only makes sense to have a club which addresses the issues that come about due to differences in race.   Ann’s club quickly became popular throughout my grade and the rest of Everett High alike. While many other clubs and activities “died out” because of the pandemic, Ann seized the time in quarantine to continue to hold meetings and talk about the rise in coverage of the racial injustices in America such as the inhumane murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s killing.

In a sense, Ann’s club has helped to unify students at the high school. Regardless of their race, any student is welcome to join the club in support of racial equality. In fact, the members of the club are of all different races. Especially with all the racial injustices happening now and the upcoming presidential election, it is important to have a club at our diverse school to better represent issues affecting the student population and the country as a whole.

Favorite Teacher

Though I don’t really have one “favorite” teacher, I have definitely enjoyed my teachers for different reasons than I have in the past.

Because we are at home this year, teachers, in a sense, have to teach their classes alongside whomever they live with. Many of my teacher have younger children, and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t make me smile when they try to wave to the class and say “hi.” During first period, for example, my teacher’s son, a toddler around the age of two, went up to the screen, waved and then rambled about “Paw Patrol” for about five minutes. I could not help but smile about how excitedly he talked about his favorite show. Like my teachers’ kids, my teachers’ pets have also made accidental appearances which brightens my day every time they “Zoom-bomb.”

There are several assignments I have enjoyed doing thus far. In this class, I actually enjoy the journals because they give me the opportunity to write about something I want. Oftentimes in past English classes I have found that I do not enjoy writing. However, this is likely because I did not enjoy what I was writing about. I have also enjoyed independent reading, especially with the fact that we are allowed to change the book if we are uninterested by it (although my book is still very intriguing). Though my assignments in AP Calculus and AP Statistics are similar to what we did in in-person classes, I still enjoy these classes. I am looking to major in Secondary Education with a concentration in Mathematics, so it doesn’t really surprise me that I am intrigued by my math curriculum.

Favorite Newsela story

My favorite Newsela article that we have read thus far is “Picking apples during pandemic.”

First, I connected with the article because I went apple picking around the same time as we read Picking apples during pandemic.” When we read this article, it was probably only a day or two after I went apple picking myself. Since I had gone apple picking so close to when we read the article, the new safety measures and experiences were still fresh in my mind (as were the apples sitting on my counter, which are sadly now all eaten). For example, the author states that the orchards were “picked over in the middle of September” (Struck) which is something that I experienced when I went apple picking. As a result, it was easy for me to visualize exactly what the article was referring to and made the article as a whole easier to understand.

In addition, I also enjoyed that this article connected to me on a local, more personal level instead of a national level. Most of the other Newsela articles refer to events affecting the entire country, so they use unfamiliar, very generalized examples to support their claim. Instead of using these general examples, the author of “Picking apples during pandemic” made sure to include examples that connected to me on a local and personal level. For instance, the author specifically mentioned Brooksby Farm in Peabody, Massachusetts, which is a farm that I have visited countless times in my life. During my childhood, my grandparents on my mom’s side would always take my sister and I to Brooksby Farm to see the animals, so I felt like I could personally connect with the article because I knew exactly what the author was referring to with their examples.

Spirit Week

Though I am not participating in Spirit Week, I am still glad that the school is having a Spirit Week for the sake of other students and staff members. I have decided to not participate in the Spirit Week myself because doing so would cause me to feel more down about my senior year than I already do. In the grand scheme of what is going on in the world right now, me having my senior year online isn’t really so bad compared to other troubles people are facing. That being said, however, I am still a bit upset over the fact that I will never get to finish my senior seasons of field hockey, cheer and softball.

To me, Spirit Week is a time to personally connect with your classmates and teachers and bond with them over whatever theme that day is. In other words, Spirit Week allows students to realize that, even though there are over 400 kids in our graduating class, we are still unified in some way. Had I participated in Spirit Week this year, I would feel a sense of loneliness because I wouldn’t really be able to see how creative my peers were or feel any sense of physical connection to them.

When I think of Spirit Week, I tend to think of the class picture that is taken every year in the gym where, in the yearbook, you can barely see everyone’s face because there are so many kids in the picture. As I am writing this, I have begun to realize that my class will likely never get the chance to take this picture, and I am honestly very disappointed by this. In addition, it seems like my yearbook will lack the senior year pictures that most other classes have gotten, which is once again slightly saddening to know.

While I am disappointed that we cannot have in-person events, I am still overwhelmingly appreciative for the school trying to make the best of the situation. Right now, it seems like many people regardless of age are experiencing a feeling of loneliness due to the pandemic. Even though I am not participating in the senior events, it is comforting to know that the school still cares about my class and all other classes, for that matter, beyond an academic standpoint.

Election Reactions

When I first heard about the election results, I was in the middle of submitting the last few of my early action college applications and, though I was feeling stressed about my college applications, the news that Biden won the election was somewhat calming to me. In addition to being stressed by my college deadlines (specifically my supplemental writings), the election was still looming over my head. In all honesty, the fact that we didn’t know who the president would be right after November 3rd was truly bothering me. Having to wait days for the election results to be posted was making me quite anxious – I hate waiting to hear about big news – so I felt pretty relieved to know that we finally had the results.

For me, this has been the most important election of my life thus far because it was the first election that I was able to vote in. Since my birthday was so close to the last day that makes you eligible to vote (I believe that day is October 12), I wound up voting in-person. I was nervous that I would have to wait hours to vote, however I only had to wait a few minutes. When I finally finished completing my ballot, it was extremely embarrassing because I didn’t know where to put my ballot so that it could be placed in the voting machine. Nonetheless, it was still empowering to know that my voice would be heard through my ballot.

I am extremely satisfied with the results of the election because it shows progress in our country. Kamala Harris is not only the first woman vice president but also the first black and Indian president, and I am glad that she will be in office to better represent how diverse America truly is. Through her presence, Kamala will be able to offer more insight on the adversity that women and minorities face today because she has experienced that discrimination herself. Though our country still has a long way to go in regards to proper racial and gender representation in government, the fact that Kamala will be vice president shows that it is possible for the United States to become more inclusive in government.

First Quarter

Given the circumstances, I am mostly satisfied with my academic progress this year in my classes. Transitioning from in-person school to online school was definitely a struggle, yet my grades for the most part were around the same range as they were before. In every class except AP Calculus, I have maintained an A+ average, so I am satisfied with my performance in these classes. With AP Calculus, on the other hand, I am disappointed with my performance. Right now I am on the cusp of an A-/A, though I feel like I could have pushed myself to get that A+. I plan on applying as a mathematics/secondary education double major, so I feel like I should have got an A+ this quarter so colleges would see that I should be admitted into their mathematics program. For second quarter, I will without a doubt need to work harder in this class so that I can work towards that A+.

This quarter, I have managed most of my time well to fit in all my academic, family and work responsibilities. After I finish all of my college applications, I want to increase the number of hours I am working so that I can save for college. In order to do this without my grades slipping, I will need to continue to apply these skills to my daily life so that I can maintain my GPA to send to colleges.

On the whole, I am satisfied with my performance. However, I am NOT satisfied with where I am at with the college application process. Right now I have 5/9 of my applications completed, though two of the applications that I have not finished are for my dream schools. Before senior year started, I had the goal of finishing all of my college applications before Halloween, but I feel like I have “failed” because I missed this goal. I technically have until January 1st to finish my applications, but it is bothering me that I haven’t finished yet. As a result, I have made it my goal to finish my college applications by December 1st, though I am really giving myself until midway through December (approximately December 15th) to be completely done applying to college.

Challenging People

As I am writing this journal right now, I actually find it kind of funny that the prompt is “challenging” people because I just dealt with a challenging person at work recently. This past Saturday night, I was working curbside take out at my work with only two other people. Usually there are about five to six people working take out, so we were extremely understaffed which caused longer wait times for the food than usual. I was running back and forth between the kitchen and the parking lot to bring out orders, and the lot for curbside was completely full. While I was helping out a customer who had been patiently waiting in their car for a while, a man came up to me and completely lost his temper. He came right up to my face – yes, in the middle of a pandemic – and not only did he refer to me using vulgar slang but he literally told me to go “eff myself.”

In response, I told that man that we were understaffed and that I would get his food as soon as it was ready. Whenever I’ve had to deal with challenging customers like this, I find it is best that I stay calm and continue to talk to them kindly as I would with any customers (regardless of them yelling in my face or not). In addition, I try to reason with myself why they are so angry. For this particular instance, I could understand that the man was probably becoming aware that it would take a while for his food to come out, and he was hungry to begin with. While it can be difficult to deal with people like this, it helps to not take whatever things they say to heart because they are likely speaking out of frustration (or simply being “hangry”) and don’t know how to communicate this without raising their voice or swearing.

Effects of BLM

As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, I have noticed a significant change in life in Everett and the entirety of the United States. Before the death of George Floyd, the only people that really seemed to heavily participate in activism and protests with Black Lives Matter were mainly black people. After his unfortunate death, however, I have seen people of all races fighting for equal rights for black people and other minorities alike, in person and through social media. For example, there was a peaceful march protest that occurred between Everett and Malden. Through the rise in these protests, there has been a greater sense of unity amongst Americans driven by the fight against racism. In the future, I can imagine that the death of George Floyd and the BLM protests that followed will be considered in a history textbook as the “Second Civil Rights Movement.”

In addition, I have also noticed that people are more willing to talk about (or rather less willing to hide from) the conversation of racism. Before this summer, conversations about racism were often avoided or “swept under the rug” in some of my classes and even daily life because they were “too controversial.” Because the protests for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of racism were so impactful throughout the country, though, it actually seems as though more people feel the need to address the problem of racism. Especially in a diverse school like Everett High, I am extremely happy that we are addressing racism more than ever before in class discussions because it is such a prominent issue in daily life that needs to be resolved.

A Covid Thanksgiving

This year, my family will not be spending Thanksgiving together. Because my parents have been divorced for most of my life, I have usually experienced two Thanksgivings every year instead of a single celebration at my mother or father’s house.

At my mother’s house, Thanksgiving will likely feel about the same as it has over the past few years. Most of my mom’s family has passed away over the years, so it has only been my mother, my sister, grandfather and myself at Thanksgiving. My grandfather is understandably anxious about celebrating the holiday at my mom’s house, so my sister and I will likely try to at least drop him off a Thanksgiving-like dinner for himself. Even if the pandemic hadn’t “ruined” Thanksgiving, I would have still found the holiday at my mom’s house depressing because it reminds me that most of my family has passed away.

Conversely, I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving at with my dad’s family significantly more than at my mom’s house because it is so much more lively. However, my grandfather on my dad’s side has decided not to host Thanksgiving at his house like usual because he, like the grandfather on my mother’s side, is understandably nervous about contracting the virus. Though I do feel a bit guilty saying this, I am more upset about not being able to have a Thanksgiving (and at the rate the virus is occurring in the United States, a Christmas Eve or Christmas) at my dad’s than my mom’s. In some ways, though, I am grateful that I won’t have to see some of my family on my dad’s side so that I don’t have to talk to them about my college plans because, as they have with all of the cousins before me (I am the youngest), they will give me advice or opinions that I never asked for nor need from them.

Revisionist History

A celebrity I realized a “disappointing” truth about was Lori Loughlin.

When I was younger, it seemed like all that was played on TV were reruns of 90’s family sit-coms: “Friends,” “That 70’s Show,” “Family Matters,” and yes, even “Full House.” Out of all the shows that I remember being shown on TV, I only really watched “Family Matters” and “Full House” reruns, which introduced me to Lori Loughlin.

On “Full House,” Loughlin seemed to embody her Aunt Becky character, and I loved how she was a positive female role model to the girls in the show. In the show, she taught basic moral values such as honesty and taught the girls to be confident in themselves, which is something that I greatly appreciated.

Off the show I never heard much about her until the USC scandal, so I figured that she acted in a sense similar to her Aunt Becky character. With the USC scandal, however, I could not have been more wrong. In order to ensure that her daughters would get into the selective school, Loughlin made it look as though her daughters were part of the rowing team even though they never participated in crew in their lives. In other words, she lied to get her daughters into USC, a very “un-Aunt Becky-like” thing to do.

Since she was so adamant about being honest on the show, the entire USC completely ruined my thoughts about her. As a senior applying to selective colleges today, I can only hope that I will not lose my spot at a school because I did not bribe my way in. Based on other people’s reactions to this scandal as well as my own, it seems that Loughlin has shattered her reputation permanently. While I have seen other celebrities ruin their reputations, Loughlin’s is the one that bothers me most because I looked up to her as a role model during my childhood.

Holiday Traditions

My most treasured holiday traditions include baking with my grandmother and picking out presents for my cat.

Though my grandmother is no longer here, I can still vividly remember baking with her all throughout the month of December, testing out new recipes and baking classic ones in preparation for Christmastime. In the kitchen with her, my sister and I would bake anisette cookies, pizelles, chocolate chip cookies and, my most personal favorite, lemon cookies. The lemon cookies in particular were a multiday process that required a day of making the dough and an entire day of rolling out the dough, cutting the cookies, baking the cookies and decorating them with a sweet lemon icing. Since she has passed away, I have avoided making the Italian cookies aforementioned because I always feel like they are missing something from her presence. Last Christmas, for example, I tried making anisette cookies for Christmas but they were simply not the same without her.  Out of all of my Christmas traditions, this is the one I cherish and miss the most.

On a more upbeat note, one of my favorite traditions is picking out presents for my cat. Based on the money I’ve wasted on presents that my cat has never used, my cat, Midnite (yes, it’s spelled like that) has very simplistic tastes. Over the years, I’ve learned that a can of tuna, some leftover turkey on Christmas day (basically anything food related) and MAYBE a throw blanket (she loves to kneed blankets for some odd reason) are her favorite gifts. Out of everyone that I buy presents for, I probably enjoy buying for my cat the most because she is the least picky so I don’t have to worry as much about her.

Impressions of Edmentum

So far, Edmentum seems like a fairly useful tool for remote learning. Compared to journals and Newsela, the website takes a much personal approach at learning by using the diagnostic test to see where I need improvement. Based on my assignments, it seems that I personally need help with varying my sentence structure more and Victorian literature.

Truthfully, I did not enjoy doing the assignments on Emily Bronte, a Victorian era writer who wrote Wuthering Heights. The lesson began talking about Bronte’s upbringing, her family and her young death, all of which were interesting topics. Once it began to diverge into Wuthering Heights, however, the lesson undoubtedly lost its appeal. The lesson had me read chapter 6 from the novel and gave me an approximately ten minute long video summary of the novel. Though I feel that I understood what I read – which was likely the objective of the lesson – Wuthering Heights is undoubtedly one of the most boring, mundane and dry excerpts that I have ever read. Had Edmentum made me read a different classic excerpt – something NOT from the Victorian era (I usually find these very dull – I probably would have enjoyed the platform more. Nonetheless, the program did succeed in helping me better understand Victorian literature.

My other assignments have been much more enjoyable. In “Varying Sentence Structure,” I have had to rearrange essays and rewrite sentences to change the subject that is most emphasized. I often find myself doing this when I write my own essays, so I actually enjoyed these assignments so far because it is something I would normally do.

Tech horror stories

Recently I have experienced much greater difficulties with technology versus the start of the academic year. In my psychology class, for instance, most of the links for an assignment were not working because they were either not loading or the links no longer existed. As a result, I did not have access to the same resources as my peers which made the assignment more difficult to complete.

In another one of my classes, I made a mistake in making a copy of a file of my work. When the assignment was posted on Google Classroom, I accidentally made two copies of the same assignment because I could not edit the original document. I completed the assignment on one of the copies. However, when I went to submit the assignment, I accidentally submitted the  extra copy. In other words, I submitted the copy with no work which resulted in me receiving zero credit. As of right now, I am trying to correct this issue with my teacher. I have not missed an assignment so far this year in the class, so I am hoping that I will be able to receive credit for the assignment because I have the original assignment completed.

As I am writing this journal entry right now, I am in fact experiencing problems with my Wi-Fi. It seems that, after every two sentences I write, my internet disconnects and I have to wait for it to reconnect. This has been a challenge in itself because it interrupts a smooth flow of writing, which often leads me to forget what I was going to write in the first place.

Will I take the Covid vaccine?

Though I am nervous about the long term effects of the coronavirus vaccine, I will likely take the vaccine. I am assuming that, by fall 2021, the COVID vaccine will become mandatory for all college students who hope to attend any in-person classes. Right now, I am most interested in attending a college with a larger student population as opposed to a small school. In order to limit the amount of coronavirus transmission as much as possible, it seems like these larger colleges might have to make the vaccine against the virus necessary as a safety precaution.

That being said, my parents have different viewpoints on the vaccine. My dad supports my sister and I getting the vaccine 100% because my sister and I work jobs where we are constantly exposed to the public. Personally, because I work in a restaurant and my sister is currently working in a grocery store, it seems more important that my sister gets the vaccine because, regardless of another shutdown or not, she is constantly exposed to individuals who may have the vaccine as there is really no avoiding going to buy food. I am also hoping that my father will be able to get the vaccine soon because he is directly exposed to the virus everyday because he works in a hospital.

My mom, on the other hand, is more fearful than my dad about getting the vaccine. Like my mom, I share the same concern that there could be fatal side affects that we simply do not know about yet. However, I think it is worth the risk to take the vaccine if it means that we can return to life that resembles the pre-pandemic.

In school, it is not possible for all students to have to take the vaccine. As stated in the Newsela article, the vaccine is only approved for individuals over 15, so if we were to return to school right now not every high school student would be able to take it because of their age.

New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I have decided not to make a resolution for myself. In years past, resolutions have caused me to only see the “bad” in myself. While I know that a resolution is meant to help people improve themselves (whether physically, mentally or spiritually), I find that I become preoccupied with the idea that I have not achieved my goal fast enough or in a way that I feel I should be achieving it in.

Throughout my life, I have always been hard on myself to be the best that I can be. Though, in some ways, my perfectionistic tendencies have helped me to succeed in the eyes of others, they have also caused me to feel as though I can always be better when, in the eyes of most others, what I am doing is already enough. In the past, creating New Year’s Resolutions has only caused me to feel worse about myself because it feels like I will never be able to achieve the goals I set forth. This probably reveals that I need to work on creating more realistic, sustainable goals. However, when forming goals like a New Year’s Resolution, I usually feel as though I must make a substantial change or rather improvement to my life in order for the goal to be worthwhile.

In the few short days of 2021 that have already passed, I have noticed feeling significantly less stress towards myself. Without big, seemingly impossible New Year’s Resolutions looming over my head, it seems that I will be able to start the year off on a much more positive note as compared to if I had created a resolution.

Protests and police responses

There was an extremely noticeable difference between the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred over the summer and the recent protests that occurred at the White House in response to Biden’s win to the United States presidential election.

In regards to the protests that occurred specifically in Washington D.C., the protests that took place during the summer were overwhelmingly peaceful. Though much of the media coverage across the United States depicted lootings and riots across major cities, the protests in D.C. were completely nonviolent. In the capital, protesters maintained their distance from the White House and other buildings in the capital. Moreover, the majority of protesters still wore masks or other forms of protection against the coronavirus. These protesters simply shouted out in opposition to racism within the United States, stating phrases such as “I can’t breathe” and “no justice, no peace” in response to the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, etc. Despite their peaceful means, these protestors were tear-gassed and violently assaulted by Capital Police.

Conversely, the recent protests by Trump supporters were completely opposite in demeanor and received total opposite treatment. These protesters – who were notably a more “white crowd” – were able to climb the walls of the Capital building, storm the Capital building and even kill a police officer without repercussions on the spot. In other words, these protests were completely violent and were met with little to no resistance from police. In addition, many of these protesters did not wear masks or other forms of protection against the coronavirus.

The vast differences in these protests suggest that racism is still an extreme issue that plagues our nation today. Had the protesters that stormed the Capital on Wednesday been black, another minority race, or in protest of Black Lives Matter, I highly doubt that the police resistance they were met with would have so little. In fact, I bet that the National Guard would have been called in before they arrived, contrary to what happened to the Trump protesters.

Returning to In-Person Learning

Although I would love to go back to in-person school for the last few months of my senior year, right now seems like the absolute worst time to do so. In September, we decided to go remote because the case numbers in Everett were relatively high and still increasing, which was definitely the right choice at the time. Using this same logic, it makes no sense to begin in-person school as early as February. We are currently in the midst of the second surge of the pandemic, meaning that case numbers and positivity rates are soaring even higher than they were during the first surge (March through May of last year). More specifically for Everett, we are not only still in the red zone but the positivity rate and case count is higher than it ever has been. Based on these statistics alone, it simply does not seem safe to go back at the end 0f the month.

Moreover, I feel sorry for teachers and other staff who will be forced to go back into the building. While a teacher themselves may be healthy enough to return to the building, they may be in close contact with someone that, if that staff member were to be exposed to the virus, would be harmed. One of my teachers yesterday, for example, talked about how they have a newborn whose immune system was compromised at birth. It is simply not fair for them to be forced to go into the building and have to risk the health and safety of their child and the rest of their family.

Staying socially connected

I have connected with friends and family in several different ways throughout the pandemic.

Primarily I have used FaceTime to keep in touch with my close friends. In fact, I usually FaceTime my friends nearly everyday. Out of all the methods I have tried to maintain my friendships and relationships despite social distancing, this has been the method that seems to be working best because it makes me feel as though I am close to the person despite being physically separated from one another.

Though I use FaceTime primarily, I usually do not use it in the way that the app was intended to be used.  While most people use FaceTime so that they can see the person they are talking to, I used the app in a way as if I were making a regular phone call. In addition, I sometimes use my phone to do other things while on FaceTime, so I am not necessarily using FaceTime to see the person’s face.

Moreover, I also use texting quite frequently. To me, texting is something that can be done while simultaneously doing something else. So, in this sense, the connections that I have tried to maintain with other through texting alone have become less meaningful (or rather feel less personal) because texting does not allow the same sense of closeness that someone’s voice offers.

If I still feel close to someone, I prefer FaceTime. However, after drifting apart, I definitely prefer texting.

Making up my own holiday

If I were to create my own holiday, I would create “National Apple Harvest Day” on September 15th. Whenever I think of the month of September, the first thing that comes to my mind is the start of fall. When I think of fall, I am immediately drawn to the thought of pumpkins, beautiful color-changing leaves, farms and apples. In the spirit of these associations, National Apple Harvest Day would focus on the fun events that make up a day of apple picking in an orchard.

To start the day off, it would only make sense to enjoy an apple-flavored breakfast food. For me, I would love to start this day off with a fresh apple, either Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, or Gala.

Of course, it would make sense to visit an apple orchard on this day and go apple picking. When arriving at the orchard, people could either walk straight to the fields and start picking their apples. Conversely, they could also take a hayride pulled by a tractor towards the apple fields. From there on out, they would spend a decent portion of the day walking around the orchard, picking apples and enjoying the scenery.

Once finished, people could return to the front of the orchard and visit animals. However, a visit to an apple orchard is not complete without stopping for a hot and fresh apple cider donut and apple cider (though I personally prefer apple juice over apple cider).

Finally, once people return home, they could finish off the apple-themed festivities by baking with their apples or making a homemade apple sauce.

The stock market and me

I know embarrassingly little about the stock market. As far as I know, it is good when the stock market goes up and bad when the stock market goes down. I know that you should try to invest some money in the stock market in companies that are almost guaranteed to make money (for example, you should try to invest in Amazon and Tesla right now because these companies are doing well). At the same time, I also know that in order to invest in companies like this you already need a lot of money to begin with because stock in successful companies can be over $20,000 per share.

Much of the stock market confuses me. I have heard of NASDAQ and the Dow Jones, but I am unsure of these really mean. I am guessing that they may be companies but I cannot say so for certain. I also don’t really understand what causes the stock market to go up and down. I know right before the Market Crash of 1929 the market was led to crash because people took out too much credit and were unable to pay it off but I don’t understand how the market fluctuates today.

I wish that students were taught in school more about investing their money in stocks, buying bonds, etc. In the future, I definitely want to learn how to invest safely so that I can make some money without putting too much at risk. If I had the ability to go back to March 12th, I would have definitely purchased stocks in Zoom, a company now flourishing due to the pandemic.

Team rebranding

If I were to rebrand a sports team, I would rebrand the Washington Redskins as the Washington Torrents. As far as I know, Washington state is known to be extremely rainy for most of the year, so, keeping up with this idea, I would want the team mascot and team name to align to this characteristic of Washington.

The team colors of the Washington Torrents would be dark grey, a dark bluish-green color and yellow. The team mascot would be a dark storm cloud named Stormy drawn with a lightning strike and, as the name suggests, torrential downpours pouring out. The logo would depict the mascot enclosed by a circle reading “Washington Torrents.”

Changing a beloved team’s name and mascot would likely follow up with controversy from those who support the original franchise name. However, as executive I would not be extremely concerned about these “naysayers.” Most people who watch football want to watch NFL games for reasons besides the team name: either they love the game of football, love the experience of attending a game, love the  players, coaches and staff or a combination of these three. In other words, they are not watching football simply for the team franchise name or mascot. As a result, I doubt that the franchise would lose enough fans to put the franchise into debt or out of business, as most people would eventually get over the change.

In addition, this name change is something that must occur. Offensive names used to brand sports teams have gone on for to long, so, now that so much light has been shed on the derogatory nature of stereotypical franchises, it is important to change them ASAP.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Trying to start or maintain any type of romantic relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic is extremely difficult.

While watching “Good Morning America” over the past week, I have noticed a new reoccurring segment where couples are brought onto to the show to talk about how, as a result of being quarantined together, they feel as though their relationship is taking a toll and they need help on how to improve it. In all honesty, the fact that this segment has appeared on the show everyday for the past week or so has not surprised me one bit. By being cooped up inside the house with their significant other, people are missing out on the personal time they had before the pandemic. Though it is important for people to make time for their significant other, it is equally as important for them to make time for themselves alone. In other words, existing relationships seem to be worsening during the pandemic because people are not getting enough time separated from their partner.

Trying to start a romantic relationship is also a difficult task during the pandemic. Over the summer, I can vividly remember working a shift as a hostess with my coworkers. One of the girls I worked with was telling me about how she thought a boy who just walked in was cute, though she could only see his eyes because he was wearing a mask. Once he sat down at a table, he pulled down his mask, and the girl who just raved about how cute the boy was looked at me in disgust. Like many people during this time, she was tricked by the mask into thinking someone was attractive to her when they really weren’t.

The best parts of remote learning

Several components of virtual learning have worked well in redefining the education model this year.

First and foremost, a platform that seems as though it will be sticking around beyond exclusively online learning is Google Classroom. Google Classroom has allowed me to keep track of all of my assignments while also making sure that I am up to date in each class. Google Classroom usually sends reminders about assignments approximately twenty-four hours before they are due, which is extremely helpful in making sure that you do not forget about an assignment. Many students including myself have gotten zeros on assignments simply because we forgot that they were due. Google Classroom’s reminders, however, make it so that the student can put more focus into the content of their assignments over remembering what assignment is due when. Thus, it would be silly not to roll over Google Classroom back into in-person learning.

I also do not see assignments on paper returning to non-math classes. Especially over the course of remote learning, I have become much more efficient in typing out my notes and other work as opposed to writing it out on a piece of paper. In college, I feel as though I will be more likely to take notes on a laptop versus a notebook because it has become faster and easier for me.

Once it is safe to return to in-person learning permanently, something that I hope will not return is Zoom conferences. Though I understand the necessity for them right now, Zoom conferences lack the same intra-personal connections that are established in-person. If I were in-person learning, for instance, I would be much more willing to talk to my peers in a small group versus a breakout room over Zoom. As a result, I am hoping that I can return to in-person learning for at least a few weeks so that I can briefly reconnect with my peers before graduation.

Free Write

Over the past two days, I have stayed at my grandfather’s house with my sister and mother trying to care for my grandfather. Though I have dealt with death several times in my life before, I didn’t realize how much worse the pandemic has truly made it.

My family and I were unable to visit my grandfather in the nursing home due to COVID restrictions, so we could only base his conditions off of what were we being told by the nurses there and by his voice over the phone. The few days leading up to him being sent home by Hospice, I noticed that I could not really understand his voice so I assumed that his condition was declining. Despite trying to mentally preparing myself to see him a declined state, I was completely shocked to see how much he has deteriorated.

I think the thing that has bothered me most of all is what he has been able to say. I can tell that he is in pain, but there is really nothing we can do besides stand by him and hold his hand. A priest came to do anointing of the sick, and he was able to yell out “help me” to the priest. I personally believe that when a person is dying, the last two sense to go are touch and hearing. I felt like I had to stand there and not cry because I know that he can pick up the sounds of my voice, yet as soon as the priest left I rushed into the other room to collect myself.

I had to leave the house briefly last night to pick up some medical supplies for him, yet before I left I held his hand, letting him know I would be back soon. Even though he doesn’t have much strength, he squeezed my hand so tight I thought he was going to break it and could make out the words “I love you,” which was the only phrase I could hear him say besides when the priest came.

I knew that he wasn’t doing super well, but when you come to realize that someone is dying life just seems to flash by so quickly.

Favorite moments of yesterday

Despite the difficult time that my family and I are experiencing, there are several moments from yesterday that were still positive.

At this point, my grandfather is unresponsive to the voices of my family and I and can no longer squeeze our hands to express his love towards us. At around noon yesterday, I noticed that he was beginning to become almost completely unresponsive, yet for a moment he seemed to slip back into his old self.

My grandfather only has one brother and, though they were close for most of their lives, they have not seen each other in person for a few years just because they live so far apart. His brother came to visit yesterday – I could tell that his brother was not expecting what he saw in my grandfather – and simply said “hi” to him. My grandfather began to bounce his legs – something that I have not seen in several days – and seemed the most alert I’ve seen him since Wednesday. Like I’ve said before, I believe that hearing is last to go and it seems that hearing his brother in person took him out of his pain just for a few profound moments.

Something that also made my day yesterday was getting a good coffee from Dunkin’. Dunkin’ isn’t my favorite place to get a coffee, but I usually go just because its so convenient. In some ways, it is fun to go to Dunkin’ because your coffee will never taste the same as it did before. I ordered my usual order for Dunkin’ – a medium iced coffee with one almond milk and two pumps of caramel (highly recommend, by the way) – and it was one of the most phenomenal coffees I’ve had in a while.

Finally, I had Kane’s Donuts yesterday. I’m not a big doughnut person, but the doughnuts that I tried yesterday were unbelievably good. My uncle unexpectedly brought a dozen on his way to visit my grandfather and my mother and I sat at the kitchen talking, eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. I can tell my mother is especially hurt by the state of my grandfather, so it was nice to see her smile a little bit despite the circumstances my family and I are still facing.

Nature and me

Living in New England, I love all seasons of the year except the winter. Not only do I find the winter boring because there are not the same outdoor activities as the summer, but I also find it enjoyable simply because it is so cold outside.

Outside from this cold season, I love all of the other season. Excluding the winter, one of my favorite outdoors activities is taking a walk. When it becomes warm enough outside, my cousin and I spend lots of time walking around the Mystic River in Somerville and go all the way around from the Somerville side to the Medford side and back around. During spring, you can usually see ducklings swimming in the river with their mother and they are some of the cutest animals I have ever seen. On the contrary, I am not a fan of the Canadian Geese that stay near the river because I am petrified of them.

In the summer, I love to see the sunrise more than the sunsets over the river. To see the sunset, you have to be at the river relatively early, so you are usually by yourself and I often enjoy this as a time to clear my head. The views of the sun as it rises above the water are also breathtaking.

Finally, I love to admire the trees as they change color around the river in the fall. Part of the reason I don’t want to leave the Boston area when I am older is the fall foliage. I feel like you can only really see all the trees in different colors for about a week, but when the colors do change it is a beautiful spectacle.

Activating my curiosity

Currently I am curious about how the COVID pandemic has permanently changed the college admissions process for my class and beyond.

Since last spring, college admissions have looked evidently different than they did before the pandemic. Compared to before, there seems to be much less emphasis on standardized testing because so many students were unable to access the SAT and/or ACT. For the high school class of 2021 and more recently the high school class of 2022, most schools including some of the Ivy Leagues have gone either test optional or even test blind (which is a decision I was overwhelmingly happy to hear about last fall because I hate all the pressure put into one test).

In the future, it seems that there will continue to be less emphasis on standardized test scores for applicants. Personally, I hope that colleges become test blind or eliminate the need for these tests because they do not accurately measure a person’s intelligence but rather their ability to take a test on a specific day at a specific time. That is, a person’s score could be unfairly disadvantaged based on outside factors that a person is experiencing that may distract them from performing well on the test.

I am also curious about how the lack of emphasis on test scores changes how difficult or easy it is to get into a college. This year, I was able to get into a school where, had I submitted my SAT score, I probably would have been denied acceptance or at the very most deferred to the regular decision applicant pool to be later denied. Based off of my experiences, it seems that getting rid of the testing requirement will help thousands of students get into schools they would usually be denied from. At the same time, becoming test blind may also hurt students who are relying on their test scores to help them build up where their GPA and extracurriculars lack.

My all-time favorite history project

My favorite history project was a project on Oskar Schindler in the eighth grade.

During eighth grade, my classmates and I were required to complete a National History Day competition project (similar to a science fair) and perform resource on a person or group of people of our choice who took a stand. I remember when I learned about the theme of the project, “taking a stand,” the first thing I thought of was a movie I had watched recently: “Schindler’s List.” Based off of this powerful film, I wanted to learn more about how Schindler was able save about a thousand Jews during the Holocaust.

After doing the research, all I can say is that Schindler was a truly selfless man. As part of the project, my group and I put together a board of images of Schindler and his factory as well as important quotes and basic background knowledge about Schindler’s work.

What I vividly remember about completing this project was the title board. My group and I took a piece of cardboard and cut it into the shape of the gates at Schindler’s factory. We then took spray paint and kind of “blotted” the white cardboard. Finally, we took skewer sticks, painted them gray and attached gray triangles to the top sticking out of the cardboard as to resemble the gates.

While this wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, our execution was horrendous. Somehow we made it to the city-wide History day competition with that title board, but it was just plain horrible to look at.

My College Process and Plans

To put it frankly, the college admissions process sucked this year. Had I applied to colleges during a “normal” year like my sister, I still would have probably complained about the process out of mere laziness, yet having to fill out applications completely alone made the process feel much more overwhelming than it had to be.

I remember back in September feeling stressed that I was “behind” on the admissions process because I had not toured a single school and hadn’t talked to my guidance counselor about my future plans. By the time I realized that I wanted to apply early action to several schools, I only had about a week and a half to submit these applications. Looking back at it now, I probably should have just waited for the regular admission pool instead of applying early to most schools, but I’m glad that I’ve heard back from most of the schools I’ve applied to. In addition, it felt horrible to sit in front of screen literally all day, first doing schoolwork and then college apps without sports or “normal” senior events.

So far, I’ve been admitted into UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, Salem State, Regis College, Endicott College and, most surprisingly Northeastern University (and even into the honors program!) with a major in math and a minor in education (I want to become a high school math teacher). I vividly remember sitting on my couch one night in late January, messing around on my phone and an email popping up that Northeastern had released my decision. I immediately grabbed my laptop and logged onto the site (which kept crashing because so many other applicants had received their decision), but I didn’t tell anyone at home until I knew I was admitted because I was too scared of rejection. I was physically shaking, and it was probably pretty funny to watch me open the email.

As of now, I am still waiting on Boston University, Boston College and Yale (which I applied to more for fun than as a serious consideration). I am supposed to hear back from BU and BC by next Sunday, and I am extremely nervous to hear back because I have always loved these schools. I know that self-worth isn’t based on the school you attend but I will definitely feel bad if I get rejected.

How to Be an Anti-Racist

I personally believe that there needs to be more advocacy on the discrimination being experienced by non-white people. Right after events like the recent Georgia massacre or even the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer last May, there seemed to be an incredible increase in the amount of anti-racist media that I saw on social media platforms as well as in the news. As things seemed to die down after these events, however, people seemed to stop posting as much about anti-racism.

In some ways, it seems like people only care about racism when a significant event occurs (just like the killing of George Floyd or the Georgia massacre). When there is not a “single” major event showcasing racist culture in the United States or beyond, people often stop showing their support for targeted groups. In the simplest terms, people often only show their support for a group experiencing racism when it is “relevant” in the news.

In order to combat racism, we need to establish that racism is something that affects people everyday and not just through major turning events. More importantly, racism needs to viewed as less of a trend in social media but instead as a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution. While the recent events in Georgia should be addressed how they are (with lots of media coverage), so should everyday experiences of racism. Without constant advocacy, it is not possible to combat racism in a long-term manner.

Edmentum and me

After taking the first and second diagnostic tests on Edmentum, I found that the Learning Path activities that I was assigned to complete afterwards were mostly appropriate to my learning level. While these assignments are not necessarily the easiest assignments I have ever completed, they are not overwhelmingly difficult, either. However, I find that the assignments having to do with a specific type of literature or literary author are extremely time consuming as opposed to assignments that are used to improve upon grammar or writing skills and techniques.

I remember back in late October or early November, for instance, starting an assignment which talked about the life of Emily Bronte and her novel, Wuthering Heights. I figured at first that the assignment would only take a little while to complete, but I spent nearly two hours on the assignment and was still unable to complete it. Once again, the lesson was not necessarily super difficult, but it felt overly long.

Since most of the lessons I have been assigned are similar to the Emily Bronte lesson, I have found it somewhat difficult to earn trophies just because it takes so long to finish the assignments. You cannot earn trophies until you finish all of your lessons and mini quizzes before the mastery test, so I have currently been struggling to get trophies in a timely manner.

Starting my own business

I would like to start off this journal by first saying that I am probably the least likely person I know to start a business. Although I know it is very possible to become successful as a businessperson, there is just too much risk involved that I would not be willing to take.

That being said, if I were to start my own business it would be a business that involves something low(er) risk. Right now, that would mean a business that does not involve in-person entertainment or restaurants because, as restrictions change nearly everyday due to the pandemic, there is a great risk of losing money in these businesses.

Instead of these, I would start a marketing company that specializes in online marketing. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of ads that appear on Instagram, Snapchat, other social medias and online in general. Even after the pandemic ends, it seems that most companies are looking to market themselves online because more people will see their advertisements versus on TV, billboards, or the radio. Good marketing can mean the difference between a successful start of a business and a failing one, so it would be not only helpful to myself but the economy as a whole to create a business in drawing business to others. Though I would not start a restaurant, starting a marketing business could draw business to struggling restaurants amidst the pandemic.

Free Write

Over the past several weeks, I have narrowed my college search down to two schools, Northeastern University and UMass Amherst. While I am certainly happy to have narrowed my search down to these schools, I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself that I was waitlisted by my dream school, Boston College.

It’s kind of funny to think that, over the first twelve years of education, there is a great pressure on ourselves to get into a specific school, and if we don’t get into that school it can feel as though you are a failure.  Thinking logically, I got into several other schools which means that I am probably somewhat qualified for college, yet I cannot help but feel as though I am not qualified because I was not accepted into my dream school. Waitlisted isn’t technically a rejection, but I know my chances of getting in at this point are almost nothing.

Over my college search but most prominently since hearing back from BC, I have definitely felt as though I am going to make the “wrong decision.” No matter where I go, I could realistically just transfer to another school if I hated the school that much. That being said, however, I would much rather (like most of my peers) remain at the school I choose for four years.

What has helped me to overcome these feelings of uncertainty is remembering that, no matter what school I choose, it is my ultimate goal to become a teacher and hopefully serve the community that has helped me so much (and I really mean that when I say it), and I can do that at any of the schools I was accepted to. Another thing I am hoping for by the time I graduate college: to pass my MTELs the first time around (which, based on the experiences of my sister and several other education majors, very unlikely) and for teaching to become a less underpaid profession.

An Open Letter to George Floyd

Dear George Floyd,

First of all, I want to say that I am sorry for the way that you exited this world onto a new one. There is simply no other way to put it: it was completely and immorally wrong that Derek Chauvin treated you how he did. No, “treat” is not the word I mean; he murdered you. You deserved so much better than that. You were and are an innocent man, and the entire world knows that.

Since you have left this world, I want to thank you for the symbol you have become not only to the black community in the United States of America but as a symbol of justice to the entire world. Your death prompted numerous protests like that of Breonna Taylor, Rodney King and Trayvon Martin, yet yours was different. This time around (and it is sickening to think that the manner in which you were murdered is a reoccurring event) the country decided that, like you in your final moments, we cannot carry forth as a nation; we “can’t breathe” any longer knowing that innocent black men, women and children have to fear for their lives daily in the face of police brutality.

As I close, I just want you to know that you have bettered the world through your sacrifice in a million ways and one. You are a true soldier in the fight against racism, and your service is commended and respected across the world.

And for that, I thank you.

To return or not to return?

I will be returning to in-person learning next week. Though I do not think the decision to return to school in-person will affect my academic experience greatly (reason being it seems that most of my peers will continue with online learning), I personally want to return to the building so that I can thank the teachers that helped me throughout remote learning as my teachers as well as the teachers I was fortunate enough to have prior to the pandemic.

To think that I will really online have about three weeks of in-person school for my last year is beyond me and something that, had you told me about not being in school for senior year when I was a freshman, something that I probably would have laughed at as a joke. It seems as though I would  be making the wrong decision if I don’t at least try to attend the school in-person for my last three weeks as a high school student.

I originally thought that most of the senior class would decide to return to in-person learning for the remainder of the year so that we could see each other as a class one final time, yet that does not seem to be the case. In most Zooms were teachers have asked my peers and I about returning, most said that they wouldn’t. I am hoping that more seniors decide to attend by next week, but I guess we will see next week.

Social media, school and free speech

Depending on the post, a student’s posts on social media should be considered part of your free speech as a student. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using social media to share your opinions. In fact, some of the purpose of social media is to do just that. However, there is a fine line between merely sharing an opinion and degrading an individual over social media.

If social media is used to share an opinion that does not have the sole purpose of degrading an individual, a school should not have the right to discipline a student for what they post on social media. Conversely, if a student’s posts on social reflect degradation towards an individual – specifically another student or staff member at the school – and that is the clear sole purpose of the post (or set of posts), then it is fair game for the school to discipline that student.

As gross as it sounds, this debate can be thought of as the writing that appears in high school bathrooms. If the message written is generally bad but does not target a specific person, the student who wrote the message rarely gets disciplined. Yet if there is a clear target in the hateful message, the school tries to find the student who wrote it to put a stop to the targeted bullying. With the social media debate, the same ideas should apply.

Politics and me

Personally, I would not describe myself as a “political” person. Politics tend to bring out conflict among people, and I tend to avoid conflict as much as possible. As a result, even if I share the same political viewpoint as someone, I tend to avoid the subject entirely because I would rather keep a mutual respect with others.

In school when I learned about politics, I was never interested in different political parties and how they have changed throughout the years. Had I learned about more local politics that were pertinent to my life, I probably would have been more interested because they would have a more direct impact on my life. However, the only politics that I can recall learning in school were about national political parties, so I found most of the history of political parties extremely mundane.

Right now off the top of my head, I can probably name about ten presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush,  Bill Clinton, JFK and Ronald Reagan (and to be quite honest with you, I’m surprised that I could even name that many). Throughout the history classes I have taken, there was much less emphasis on memorizing each president but rather on focusing on presidents with significant contributions to the country. While I wish I could name more presidents, I am happier knowing that I am aware of how these presidents have affected the country and my life rather than just their names.

A brave new (academic) world

After the pandemic, schools should incorporate the use of technology more heavily in the classroom. Over the course of the pandemic, schools have not only had to adapt to new technologies to educate their students but have more importantly become reliant on the use of technology to continue their students’ educations. It would not make sense to go back to mostly paper and pencil learning, especially in classes that do not require mathematics or other characters that are difficult to type. Many tasks, especially worksheets and small assignments, are much easier to complete in an online format versus on a paper. Thus, going back to paper and pencil would lead us back into inefficiency.

I think the pandemic has helped to highlight disparities between school districts even more so than pre-COVID. In districts where students struggle to have access to reliable internet, technology or necessary school supplies, the pandemic has only worsened the achievement gap. In order to help close this gap, there needs to be a better system of allocation of resources for schools that cannot provide their students with the necessary tools to succeed. That being said, as much I would love students to have equal access to resources I don’t have a solution myself to help close this gap.

Moreover, schools should continue to allow students to work at an individual pace. Since being back in school this week, I have noticed that I have finished my work much earlier than the end of the school day. With online school, I could leave once I was finished with my work so I could be productive with something else in my day.

Travel memoir

Though I have visited many places within the US, I would consider my personal experiences at these places more interesting than the actual locations themselves.

About two years ago, myself, my mother and my sister ended up in Pennsylvania going to Hershey Park. Going to Hershey Park was, without a doubt, one of the best family experiences of my life (my family and I love roller coasters, so I definitely enjoyed the larger ones at the park), however what I remember most from that trip was visiting Lancaster and Amish country.

My sister and I were relatively hesitant to visit Lancaster because we enjoy more active vacations over relaxing or sight-seeing destinations. Nonetheless, my mother has always been somewhat fascinated by the Amish population and wanted to take a visit to Lancaster, so we went.

The day we went was our last full day in Pennsylvania, and I vividly remember it being about 100 degrees and sunny. While driving in Amish country – which is literally just fields that look the same no matter where you look – my mom’s car all of a sudden shut down. Immediately we all began to panic because not only were we hundred of miles of home but we were literally surrounded by corn fields and the occasional horse-and-buggy in the middle of nowhere.

Never have I seen my mother and sister panic so fast, but looking back at it it is one of the funniest and my favorite recent memory to look back on. Surprisingly, my sister and I were extremely fascinated by the Amish populations once we were in Lancaster, and we are hoping to take a road trip this summer – maybe – to Lancaster again (but hopefully without getting stuck amidst the Pennsylvania cornfields).

Reflections on the curriculum

This year was, without a doubt, vastly different in my English work compared to work I have completed in my previous English classes.

English is usually not my favorite subject because I do not enjoy reading anything that involves Middle English. On Edmentum, many of the assignments I was tasked with involved reading Middle English, including reading excerpts from The Canterbury Tales and even a bit of Shakespeare. However, because Middle English was not the sole topic covered in the curriculum for a portion of the year, I felt much less unwillingly to learn about Middle English. While I wish I could say that I fell in love with Middle English after this year, I am still not a fan of it.

With the journals, I love the freedom of expression that I was given compared to a normal English class. Though I understand that learning how to write a prompted essay is a necessary part of high school English curriculum, I have never enjoyed writing them because they tend to be overly constricted in what can be written about. Journals gave me a free space to express any thoughts, feelings  or quite literally anything in the moment. From the journals, I have learned that I actually enjoy writing, but that it just has to be on a topic I am genuinely interested in or some thought I cannot get out of my mind.