Staying strong, determined and united is helping Huntington High School students get through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The teenagers have displayed remarkably positive attitudes in the face of a public health crisis that has altered all of their lives.
“This year has been extremely tough for many as it is nothing like we have experienced before,” junior Jillian LoTurco said. “I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be surrounded by positive people that always push me to do my best even though remote learning has been a challenge. Not only is remote learning challenging, but not having in person clubs and sports has been very difficult as students do not have much time to bond.”
Like so many of her classmates, Ms. LoTurco has an amazingly positive attitude. “Even though there are many negatives to be said about these past few months, one thing we can all agree on is the appreciation we feel towards the staff members as they have put in several hours and a tremendous amount of effort into reconstructing everything and doing the best they can to foster a supportive and safe learning environment,” Ms. LoTurco said. “Being a Blue Devil has instilled a confidence in me that believes that we can get through this as we are strong, determined and united.”
Everyone is looking forward to the end of the pandemic, however that might occur. The teenagers yearn for a return to normalacy and a traditional school experience.
“COVID-19 has definitely impacted my life these past eight months,” said Isaiah James, the high school’s student government president and a Blue Devil track star. “COVID put an end to my comeback season last spring, preventing me from running good times to show to colleges that I’m interested in. Though the virus has affected me negatively, it gave me a lot of time during quarantine to focus on my academics and raise my grades. It’s been a long eight months, but a vaccine is on the way and the winter season is beginning. I have high hopes for the future.”
The pandemic has injected a large degree of uncertainty into the lives of the teenagers, but they are weathering the storm as best as they can.
“COVID-19 has caused a persistent level of uncertainty in all of our lives,” sophomore Haileigh Smith said. “From the end of last year to the beginning of this, we go to school every day wondering if another lockdown is just around the corner. School sports are postponed for the foreseeable future and clubs are held over Google Meets. While I personally have been fortunate enough not to lose anyone to the virus, the changes that have been made in Huntington and everywhere else are definitely a lot to take in. However, the fact that we were able to move two cohorts into the building at once suggests progress and I have no doubt that normalcy will soon come.”
The Huntington students are following the news and are aware that several vaccines are nearing approval. But the teenager are also hearing about a surge in new infections throughout the world.
“Like many people, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on many activities that I look forward to and it changed how I do things in my life that I was not necessarily prepared for,” senior Lily O’Heir said. “Life is definitely not like I thought it was going to be when I pictured the future four years ago. The pandemic has affected my life in a lot of ways negatively, but also positively. I am able to appreciate the little things more. I appreciated my community and how we came together to help one another out and provide assistance to those who needed it most. All in all, we were put in difficult times and it is taking a toll on everyone, but while it’s hard, it’s better to look at the positive things that come out of it. It’s all of what you make of it and what outcomes you choose to spend your time thinking about.”
Students are trying hard to persevere during these trying times. “These past eight months have truly been interesting considering nothing is very ‘normal’ anymore,” junior Jasjeet Kaur said. “I never thought I’d have to add having a mask on me to my checklist of things to do before leaving the house. Even though there are countless negative consequences we can point out, I feel like everything has a bright side if you look close enough. Personally, the quarantine really gave me time to slow down and dedicate extra time to my family. This experience is also teaching me to actually stop and smell the roses once in a while, which is something most people probably feel they can work on.”
Students say over and over again that they have come to realize that nothing in life should be taken for granted, even the small things that most people do routinely and without thinking.
“Like many, during the first few months of quarantine I tried taking up new hobbies to pass the time,” senior Kate Sheran said. “For example, I’ve been sewing and baking often. I had also made sure to find time to ‘see’ my friends virtually until we could meet in person. Overall, these past few months have made me realize how much I appreciate everyday tasks that I take for granted, such as walking through the halls and staying after school for clubs that I could no longer do when school moved online.”