The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every American’s life in some way, including Huntington High School students who are all coping with the public health crisis as best they can. The teenagers have responded with courage and resilience.
The pandemic has changed just about every aspect of school life since it struck last March. Sports, clubs, award dinners, induction ceremonies, commencement exercises for the Class of 2020, even the junior banquet and senior prom were impacted and a long list of special events in every district school were cancelled.
The teenagers who comprise the student body at Huntington High School have learned many lessons over the past year. Some of them have been difficult to face and others have been life changing.
“Over these past eight months, I have found myself being much more grateful for the small things in my life,” junior Teddi Carnesi said. “Due to the pandemic, I have had so many things taken away from me. Sports, school, family and friends were all taken so suddenly. Unfortunately, I also lost loved ones. This made me realize how I need to cherish moments with the people around me and not get so worked up over small issues. I now enjoy every second I have on the field or court, with family and with friends, because I know that everything can change in the blink of an eye.”
The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Remote learning doesn’t necessarily agree with everyone and the impact COVID-19 has had on clubs, sports, internships and part-time jobs has been devastating to many.
“Well, if I’m being honest, this pandemic has been strange and frightening, but thankfully in my household no one got sick and we maintained a hopeful mentality,” junior Naysa Escobar said. Since day one my family self-quarantined in order to stay safe and to keep our minds happy the only people that watched the news were my parents in order to not frighten my siblings and I.
During those weird times we grew closer and kept occupied with challenges and weird competitions such as ‘the one that got the farthest while sliding with socks picks the movie or went camping in our backyard.’”
Ms. Escobar said that art was a “huge part” of her family’s quarantine. “My room and hallways officially have no more room for art because it wasn’t long before I got bored and started painting the walls everyday like Rapunzel,” she said. “My stepmom, Paula and my dad, Neys encouraged me a lot in the process of creating these artworks and thanks to them and Mr. [Joseph] Cohen an amazing idea came to mind to help others and share our household happiness with some people around the district.”
The teenager created more than two dozen portraits of Huntington UFSD to thank them for being so helpful during this stressful period. “And I’m happy to say that the responses I got from them were heartwarming to say the least,” Ms. Escobar said.
Always looking for the positive side of any situation, the junior said her family has become closer and her creativity has “flourished” during the pandemic.
Drew Spina wants to become a high school music teacher and the senior is now seeing how the ongoing health crisis has impacted everyone associated with classroom education.
“The pandemic has affected my life mentally and physically,” Mr. Spina said. “In February and the beginning of March, I was feeling so good mentally I felt like I was having the time of my life and then when March 13 came and I heard we might shut down I kind of panicked because I knew I was going be in a bad mental state.”
Being “cooped up” in his house and not seeing his friends for 50 days hit Mr. Spina hard. “But when I got a job at my insurance company as an intern, I had felt so much better and it really has helped me feel better and stop worrying about my mental health,” he said. “Overall it has changed my whole life and turned my senior year upside down.”
While this surreal period has been very challenging, Huntington students always find a way to be optimistic, even in the midst of tough times.
“COVID-19 has affected my life in many different ways, some for worse some for better,” senior Taylor Case said. “It has been really hard to adapt to the disappointments that it has brought, such as a mainly virtual senior year and sports and activities being canceled. However, dealing with all the disappointments has made me a lot more grateful for what we have been able to do and has helped me to roll with the punches better and find some new hobbies and good habits.”