Seniors: A Year Later Pandemic Reflections


Dan Terifay

I was sitting home during online school when I got the email that school had shut down. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea that that week was going to be my last normal week for a very long time. Little did I know even into my senior year there still is no normalcy around anywhere.

Nothing has changed regarding the fact that still nobody knows how this virus actually works, or how it’s mutating. However, adaptation is necessary for humans to live, so we as a species have to adapt. The culture of the mask has almost become normal to me now. Instead of parents saying “come back before dark,” now it’s “make sure you bring your mask!” It’s important to never be naive in serious situations because this virus quite frankly shut down the world. 

I expect some normalcy, but only time will tell at this point. It hasn’t really changed my future plans nor has it really changed me at all; I really have stayed the same. Last spring my friends and I used to get together and go for walks and this was very enjoyable to get out of the house. I liked school last year; the great part was I didn’t struggle with anything last year. I remember just a lot of sitting around and doing a whole lot of nothing really. To be honest with you I wouldn’t know what to do after I cleaned my room a million times.


Tom Callaghan

In 2003 the Highly Pathogenic Asian Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus spread through parts of the United States. Despite being all over the news and having a large buy-out of vaccines, the vast majority of  Americans saw no major changes in their lives. In 2009 the Swine Flu did the same. It came, made a big media frenzy, and went as soon as it came. In 2014 the deadly Ebola Virus from Africa was the “deadliest” virus so far; 11 people contracted the virus. Every five to seven years in the 21st century had a new disease that was supposed to shut down the world or bring the end to the human race according to the news. 

On December 31st  2019,  the Chinese government reported cases of a new Coronavirus. This new disease, Covid-19, was said to be more contagious and able to stay in your body longer than the flu before symptoms developed. In school most of us thought of it a

s just another media frenzy that would be a distant memory in a year. This new virus was said to have a 2% death rate, so we questioned what the big deal over it was. 

But it didn’t go away. Over the course of a few months, the virus spread to every county in America. New Jersey was adding 3,000 cases each day. On the Friday of March 13th, everyone was talking about school closing. Some joking, some excited for a two-week break. During the day anytime someone coughed or sneezed people would go “he’s got the Rona.” Many people, including myself, feared school closing down, thinking the school would assign more work to compensate. 

Lunch started like any other. But about halfway through the period, the announcements came on and told everybody to go to their homerooms. Many people suspected this was when school would be announced as closed. But when we got there it had nothing to do with the virus, and it was about an assembly that never came to be. As the day went on, more people were talking about school closing, almost as if they were certain of what was to come. 

The day continued like any other and we got on the bus and we went home. That was the last time we would be on the bus in almost six months for some, and a year for others. For seniors, that was the last day they were ever on a school bus. 

With the day over, it seemed like school wouldn’t be closing too soon, so two of my sisters and I decided it would be fun to take our dog on a walk. I remember it like it was yesterday: the cracked sidewalks, my dog barking, and my nephew laughing. Due to my nephew going to New Albany, my sister got a phone call for parents of students who go to Cinnaminson schools. School was to be closed in the county from March 16 to April 20. 

And now April 20, 2021 seems like a long shot. 

Isabella Korbal 

When I go back to almost a year ago and try to think about that day that most people remember as “the day everything shut down,” or Friday, March 13th, a lot of things come to mind. It’s easy to remember that time, but it is a bit hard to write it all out. Going back to that exact day, I remember school being just like any other day, although a lot of people had a hunch that something was coming. There was a feeling of uneasiness. Towards the end of that school day, students got called back to their homerooms to discuss setting up Google Classrooms in case we were to shut down as many schools in the country had. I don’t think any of us realized the impact that the virus would have at that time, as we were all sitting in the room talking about having no school as if we were going on some sort of break. People were cheering and yelling in the hallways when it was announced over the loudspeaker that we had to return to our homerooms because everyone was excited about not having to go to school, but if they knew where we’d be a year later, I don’t think they would be cheering.

A lot of people panicked as this relatively unknown virus started spreading. That same day, Friday the 13th, I remember I went to the supermarket with my mom and my sister. Masks were still not required at that point. I remember there being a general state of fear and nervousness as people rushed around the store as if they were preparing for the apocalypse. As we were in line paying, we finally got that message that school would be shut down for a few weeks, which we soon learned would be much longer, in order to slow the spread of the virus. While many people, students especially, saw this time as a type of break, as weeks and months passed, people struggled. Thousands of people lost their jobs, students all over struggled with school and being away from their friends, and there was just a general wondering of “When will this be over?” Now, nearly a year later, we finally have a vaccine, but school is still virtual for many, masks and socially distancing are still enforced in many states, countless lives have been lost, and there is still an overwhelming feeling of abnormality. 

Going back to last spring and thinking about how school was, I remember having a really hard time. Not only were you away from your friends and teachers for months, but school wasn’t like how it is now with the Google Meets and hybrid schedule. Work was assigned at the beginning of the day for each class and it was up to you to complete it by the end of the day. Not having a set schedule and routine did not make it any easier. I remember some nights I would be up until ten or eleven at night doing school work while some other people were getting work done for all of their classes in as little as one or two hours. Not only this, but once we went all remote, the quality of instruction was reduced as it’s difficult to learn when you’re not face to face. I also felt that I was having to teach myself the material most of the time. I know many students and teachers struggled last year and still are coping with this new way of learning, but looking back at how school was from March until the end of the year, it was certainly not ideal. On top of regular schoolwork, I also had to prepare for AP exams for the first time. In a normal year, you would review as a class and teachers would have meetings after school to study and go over the material. But last year was different, it was all up to you to make sure you were prepared, which was difficult since you had to review a year’s worth of information on your own. I’m not in any way saying that my teachers did not help with the preparation, I know teachers struggled as much as students did last spring, but it was just much harder to prepare for the exams than in a typical year. 

Looking back, it’s easy to complain about everything that went wrong last year. It’s always the negative things that stand out in your memory, however you can’t ignore the fact that some positives did come out of everything. For one, many of us got to spend more time with our families, including pets, since we couldn’t really leave the house for really anything but to go food shopping. While being with the same people 24/7 for months on end wasn’t always the best, it definitely was good to be able to be together despite the circumstances. Another thing is that there was more time to do things that you enjoyed doing that you maybe didn’t always have the time to do before. For example, I know a lot of people picked up new hobbies during the time we were in quarantine. For me, I personally did a lot of cooking and baking, and, out of boredom as I’m sure many others also did, I binged watched more Netflix than I probably should have. But looking back, while there were plenty of bad things that came out of the year, there is no doubt that some good came out of it as well.

Last year also put a lot of things into perspective. As a high school student it was natural to be upset over things like canceled proms and graduations and not being able to go out to eat or hang out with friends, however it really made you think about what other people were going through. Many people had grandparents that couldn’t be visited, or family members who had the virus, or had medical conditions that made them high risk, fearing even leaving the house. When you think about all of this, it makes the loss of spring sports and having to do virtual school not seem so bad. It really makes you think about how everyone has their own struggles and stories to tell. I think one of the biggest lessons many of us can learn from 2020 is not to take anything for granted. You don’t always appreciate the little things like being able to go to school with your friends, or going out to eat with your family, or celebrating a birthday, but after this past year, those are definitely things that I think everyone will be a little more grateful for going forward.

Here we are a year later and I never would’ve thought that we’d still be in this situation. There’s so much to say about 2020 that it’s hard to find the right words to describe it all, but I don’t really think there is a right or a wrong way because everyone has their own experience. I think everyone, including myself, learned a lot from 2020, and it will certainly never be forgotten.