By Grace Van Duyn, ’22
Looking back on the last four years, it is fair to say that our class did not have a typical high school experience. We all had no idea how much COVID would impact our lives, and for how long. With our sophomore, junior, and senior years affected by the virus, The Hawk asked students to reflect on the experience of living through a pandemic.
“I learned to be more self-sufficient and independent,” said Gillian Mastrocola. “I became more adaptable and improved my ability to teach myself difficult topics, and I spent more time with my family and improved my mental health.”
Many of us made similar self-discoveries, like Vincent Castaldini, who said, “I learned who I was as a person from the time we missed (in school).” Emma Talbot gained a “sense of independence and started doing things for myself, not others.” Anna Bucchianeri “learned not to doubt myself and that I could be strong.” Bella Kelley felt “the pandemic put into perspective what is important to me.”
Some students found the pandemic – with remote school, hybrid schedules and online classes – made them better students.
“COVID taught me a lot of time management skills that got me to set my own deadlines and stay on top of my work,” said Ben Manning. Duncan MacDougall is “now able to learn better over a Zoom call and with weekly deadlines instead of daily ones.” Bridget Sellon learned “to divide and conquer my work.”
For Cara Jenkins, COVID “showed us that we are able to adapt to new situations. Although it created many issues,” she said, “we were able to look for the positives and use the time for other things, such as families and hobbies.”
Hobbies picked up by the class included friendship bracelets for McKenzie Bottomley and skateboarding for Rose Giordani. Jamie Parry built a boat. Lauren Salvas “took the time to do things I love at home.”
Many students credit the pandemic for giving them more time with, and appreciation for, friends and family. “It made me realize the importance of spending time with others,” said Michael Greene. “I learned to better appreciate my family,” said Caden Chadwick.
Fitness was a coping mechanism for some students. Pat Callow started working out daily during the pandemic, saying “I learned that not everything is a guarantee.” Carter Zielinski felt COVID “showed me how important staying active and exercising is for mental health.” Jack O’Callaghan focused on “keeping extra healthy and keeping busy.”
One of the greatest themes among our experiences was learning to appreciate what we have. “Don’t take anything for granted,” said Lauren Casey. “You never know when
you may lose it.” Nieve Rowlette added that we should “live in the moment and be happy for what is to come.”
COVID “made me realize how much I take time for granted,” said Preston Miller. “I always used to complain about not having enough free time, and quarantine gave me more free time than I’d ever had and I still felt like I was wasting it.”
Molly McGlame found that after remote school, she was grateful when classes resumed in person. “As much as school can be dreadful sometimes, we are extremely lucky to have such a beautiful building to come to every day to see everyone and interact with our great students and staff.”
This pandemic has definitely been a struggle for all of us, but it also showed us how resilient we can be. No matter how big or small our accomplishments have been at HHS, we should give ourselves extra credit for them during this difficult time. COVID has shown us that we can manage challenging times, and that we can sometimes even turn them into something positive.
“Things may get hard,” Tiana Wakefield summed up, “but there is a way through it.”