Looking Forward: thoughts from an 11th grader during COVID-19

Our world is currently facing a crisis like no other during our lifetimes. For the first time in decades, all the people of the world are united to fight our common, invisible enemy, COVID-19. From the time I wrote this blog post, there have been 3.58 million cases worldwide, 1.21 million of those being in the United States according to data compiled by Google. Beginning in March, countries around the world began to “shut down”. Schools, stores, restaurants, and many more institutions began to close worldwide. In Orange County, schools officially closed on March 13, 2020. The interesting thing about that specific day is that it was a FRIDAY. I’m starting to believe that bad luck does exist! Across the world, millions of students began the difficult task of learning from home, and we at Circulos were no exception. In a matter of days and months, the whole world was turned on its heels, and our future got a shakeup.

Learning from home will always come with challenges. Teachers had to adapt to the new way of teaching and make last-minute changes to their existing lesson plans, or completely create new ones. Teachers, especially those without technical skills, had to quickly adapt to this new method. It doesn’t hurt that I’m writing this during Teacher Appreciation Week, to say “Thank you” to all the teachers who have been doing so much for their students during these unprecedented times. Special shoutout to Mr. In, who was willing to help our chemistry class with stoichiometry late in the day. Without our teachers, our school, our district, our state, our country, and our world would not be where we are in regards to this pandemic. Furthermore, another shoutout to the Santa Ana Unified School District School Board for adopting a “no harm” grading policy with its students; students should not have to suffer in regards to grades because of their economic status. Point being, there are lots of educators and leaders who are doing so much for students during this time; I cannot express how thankful I am for all those teachers doing everything they can for us students during this time.

While everyone has been affected in many ways due to COVID-19, educationally speaking, it is the juniors and seniors that are the most heavily impacted. Seniors are missing out on once in life-time events such as prom and their other respective events. Typical celebrations symbolizing the end of high school have been canceled. However, people like John Krasinski from Some Good News hosted a virtual prom. He also hosted a virtual graduation for 2020 graduates. There are so many examples of people like John willing to do their part to make this situation better for the Class of 2020. For instance, XQ is helping to produce #GraduateTogether to make graduation season a little better for seniors. On the other hand, are the juniors like me. With GPA and extracurricular activities being important to many and with in-person school abruptly canceled, many of my peers questioned what would happen. Many students who were wonderfully excited to take the SAT or ACT had their dreams crushed when they found out testing was canceled until further notice. I was one of those unlikely juniors, with my dreams of taking the SAT crushed! But jokes aside, without this exam used worldwide for college applications, many juniors are wondering what will happen. Many universities around the country and the world started to waive the SAT or ACT requirement for the Class of 2021. This was a breath of fresh air for many juniors who wished to attend a high profile institution, but due to COVID-19, and testing cancellations might not have had the opportunity to. The University of California is the latest example of a state-wide university system to waive the requirement for the Class of 2021. It is because of people like John Krasinski, that high school seniors can have some sense of “normalcy” in their lives. It is thanks to universities like the University of California system that high school juniors have one less thing to worry about regarding their future.

In the end, nobody can accurately guess when this crisis will end and when everything and everyone will return to “normal”. One thing is certain however, we cannot do this alone. Getting out of this pandemic requires that we all work together to support one another in any way possible. While some people may disagree, the easiest way to do your part is to do what we have always wanted to do, stay home. Not all of us are medical professionals, not all of us have a car, but for those of us that do have a home, let’s stay home. It is when we are united during times of crisis that we all benefit. Whether we agree with the decisions of our leaders or not, we all have the same desire to have everything return to how it was before this pandemic. For that to happen, we all have to do our part to move past this quickly.

To the seniors and juniors of SAUSD and the nation, we will get through this. For my fellow juniors at Circulos, while this was not the way we expected our junior year to go, we should make the best of it. While we were devastated to not take the SAT, we have so many more opportunities up ahead to succeed. Being a small graduating class, seven of us have been together since our freshman year. For the other two who joined our sophomore and junior year, we have managed to grow closer as a group as well. I know we are facing unprecedented times in our lives. We didn’t go through 9/11, but after getting to know each and every one of you, I know we are a small but powerful group. I know for a fact that we can do anything that we set our minds on after this is over. All we have to do, is do our part.

Written by Andres M., a junior at Círculos High School

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