Happy Birthday, Quarantine!

By Lila Troum

This week is big for the country, as we “celebrate” quarantine’s first birthday! March 13, 2020 was our first day of quarantine, and as we approach/move past that date this year, it’s important to take into consideration just how much we’ve normalized everything and how much we, as people, as students, as friends have changed. Quarantine has affected everybody differently, and I thought it’d be an interesting take to gather the diverse perspectives of the school: freshman to senior, I’m curious where everybody’s head is at. I asked a few of my classmates about how quarantine has affected them and how they have changed. This is what they had to say: 

Jeremy Park (freshman) 

Jeremy Park is a freshman at GVHS who plays in the marching band and runs track. 

Q: How has quarantine changed you as a musician, as a person, and as an athlete? 

A: “When you reflect on a year as crazy as 2020 was, most people you ask will probably consider it the worst year of their lives, but honestly I could make the case that the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. Obviously, things were canceled and it wasn’t a normal year. 

As a musician, the rest of my 8th-grade year got cut off, I couldn’t perform in my spring concert. And marching band season started; we had half a normal season, we wore masks when we played and separated a lot, practices weren’t as long. I’m a freshman so I don’t know the entire procedure, but I heard from a lot of people that it just wasn’t the same. People were down a lot, we just couldn’t get the full experience of what a normal year was like. It was different for me because it was my first time doing it, but I made a lot of friends and I’m sure it’ll be different next year. 

As an athlete, I couldn’t really do any sports, but track [season] just started so that’s good.  With sports in general, everyone has to wear masks, a lot of people are opting out just to stay safe. We’re separated, there are [not as many] games for basketball, [not as many] meets for track, it’s just not the same experience. 

How quarantine changed me: I had to change how I got my fitness in, how I got my exercise; last year’s track season got cut off so there were no meets. I was at home a lot, running a little. It was good for me, it was just me and I was working on myself and I think that translates really well as to how I changed as a person. I had more time to focus on myself. I didn’t have in-person friends in school to keep me in check and school just wasn’t the same being at home. I could’ve done without a pandemic, but I don’t think I’d be where I am today without it. I try every day to keep things positive, and to anyone reading this: stay positive, even if we’re all separated we can all find ways to be happy.”  

Katie Kinzel (sophomore) 

Katie Kinzel is a sophomore at GVHS who runs track and XC for the school. 

Q: How has quarantine changed you as a friend, as an athlete, and as a student? 

A: “As an athlete, it’s helped me focus on running a lot more, and things that help with my running: lifting, core, stretching, it’s given me more time to do those things. 

As a student, [quarantine] definitely made [school] hard with motivation sometimes. You’re not really going into school so why do the work if I’m not gonna go in? However, I’m still able to get it done and it’s less stressful because you’re at home in your comfort place. 

As a friend, I feel like my friends haven’t really changed much; I still hang out with [my friends] and my XC friends. I have a boyfriend now, so that changed a little bit. Not being able to see people is very tough for me, I’m a people person, an extrovert, so that was definitely one of the hardest parts of quarantine. I felt isolated from everyone. There was a lot of family time, and that’s fine up to a point and then it’s like oh my gosh get me out. 

Olivia DiMarino (junior) 

Olivia DiMarino is a junior at GVHS who performs in the school’s musicals, including the upcoming production of Newsies!

Q: How has quarantine changed you as a performer, as a student, and as a person? 

A: “Well [as a performer] quarantine has made me more enthusiastic when it comes to performing. I’m excited to be there with other people, I’m really valuing the time I get on stage. I feel more confident, too, and I think that’s displayed in my performance. It’s weird, though, as there’s social distancing, and we have to wear masks. I’m glad we’re in person now, because before we were doing everything on Zoom and it was really hard to learn dance routines on Zoom. [School productions] are weird compared to last year. The show is later in the year and it’s outside in the Pennington parking lot. The set is different, everything is different, but I’m glad that we get to be together.

School is kind of weird this year. When I go into school, in person, I’m so much more motivated and it’s such a better experience, but at home, I’ve just lost motivation and I think it’s because at home we’re on Zoom all day and it’s so hard to be interested in watching a presentation for an hour and a half and then going to a class and watching another presentation for an hour and a half. But, I still do understand junior year is an important year, so I’m able to get myself out of that rut, and I’m able to focus on my classes and make the best out of it, but it’s obviously so much different compared to last year. My studying habits have changed, and just everything has changed. And the college part of junior year is so weird, too; there aren’t any colleges coming to visit, or anything like that, so it’s been weird navigating college practically online and that’s a really big part of junior year. Junior year is the year you prepare for senior year and you get a taste of senior year, but I didn’t get a taste at all and somehow I’m going to be the oldest person in the building next year which is so scary and I’m not ready for it at all because we didn’t have time to prepare. We’re all trying to make the best out of this situation and it’s so different, but we’re all doing the best we can and we’re making it work. 

[Quarantine’s] changed me as a person in my outlook of things. Basically losing a whole year of everyone’s lives, I’m just so much more appreciative of things and what I would do to go back and have a normal junior year and [experience] all of the events and prepare for my senior year. I feel much more appreciative of the people around me, the people that I do talk to, I’m so grateful for them, I talk to them so much and I’m so thankful for them. I’m grateful for my family because we’ve gotten a lot closer through this experience. My cousins, who I didn’t always talk to that much, we talk all the time now because that’s all we could do in the early stage of quarantine. I feel like I’ve learned to believe in myself and not care what other people think because I don’t have time to. Our time is so valuable, I can’t worry about stupid things; I have to keep my focus and keep my goals straight. I don’t have to worry if people don’t like me anymore, I don’t really care at this point because I just wanna live my life with people that are actually important to me and the things that mean the most to me, and I feel like I’ve really learned what’s important in life. But, I feel like it’s been [odd], it’s like I haven’t lived my life since last March. I’m honestly grateful for quarantine because the person I am now compared to last year, I’ve grown so much and I realize what I need to be doing; I know what I wanna do and I know what I need to do to accomplish that. It’s made my mind so much clearer, what I need to do has just formed in my mind over the past year. Once this is all over, I’m so excited, but I think we all need to remember what we learned during this, once we go back we can’t go back to our old habits. We need to continue to grow and continue to be appreciative and realize what’s important.” 

Julia Shoey (senior) 

Julia Shoey is a senior this year at GVHS. She spends a lot of time with her little sister and has been working at Wegmans for over two years now. 

Q: How has quarantine changed you as a sister, as a student, and as an employee at Wegmans? 

A: “I feel that my sister and I are a lot closer because we had to spend so much time together. When I go off to college that’ll be a big thing for me: I won’t be able to see her. 

As an employee at Wegmans, I have to clean a lot more. I think it’s a lot harder, you have to be more responsible with your safety and other people’s safety. I have to be more assertive and aggressive if [customers] aren’t wearing a mask to protect other customers at the store. You have to be careful and safer with your surroundings. I’d have to say I don’t think I like it as much, the job in general. 

As a person, it hasn’t really changed me. I’m an introvert, so I was staying inside before and after quarantine.”  

Miss. Purvis (gym/wellness teacher) 

Miss. Purvis is a PE teacher at GVHS who teaches numerous classes, including Dance and Lifetime Fitness, as well as PE 9. She’s the head coach of the school’s girl’s lacrosse team and the assistant field hockey coach. 

Q: How has quarantine changed you as a teacher, as a coach, and as a person? 

A: “I guess I would say it has made me TRULY see the impact of in-person public education. There have been times when I have complained in the past about class sizes that I deem to be too large, or a room full of students who won’t stop talking when I am giving directions, or even not having enough of the right equipment. I said recently, ‘What I would GIVE to have a PE class of 36 right now, and I never thought I would say that!’ I miss the conversations with students, the buzz of a competitive badminton tournament in the new gym, and the look of a student in wellness who is really connecting with a lesson. While the education system as a whole is far from perfect, I think this shutdown has made a lot of people realize how much value there is in in-person learning. We had it good before! I look forward to when we are back full time, whenever it is safe to do so, because I know I will be grateful to teach humans instead of screens!” 

It’s safe to say that quarantine has really changed us all. It’s fantastic to hear that some people are growing from this, and it proves that there’s always a silver lining in sticky situations. It’s crazy that this has been going on for a year now. Here’s to hoping that there will be no second birthday for quarantine! 

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