The Hopkinton High School Perspective: Covid Edition
June 2, 2021
During the past year 2020-2021, life has been anything but normal. With the pandemic, many students have deeply thought about their relationships with friends and family, as well as learning new hobbies, such as painting or drawing. While still dealing with the problems of being a high schooler, whether it be getting a job, learning to drive, or trying to get themselves into college it is a never-ending challenge for students to maintain a normal lifestyle.
Below are examples of experiences that students have dealt with the challenges and changes this year has thrown at them.
Jessica Fiske: Birthday Parade Along With a New Companion
Once winter came around, this time Covid came with it. As I looked forward to “going back to normal” around the end of fall, it became clear that this was not going to happen. This made me upset knowing this was my last year to spend with the people I loved before I went to college.
“Jessie, I found a kitten, and we are leaving in an hour to pick her up. Oh yeah, by the way, it is your kitten!” my older sister Rylee told me.
My heart dropped, all I have wanted since covid started was a cat for companionship.
As we were on our way to get my new kitten I began to feel anxious. The feeling of becoming a fur mother was overwhelming me in the best way possible.
This moment I had waited for what felt like forever.
After a 35-minute drive, we arrived at a library. There she was.
When I first saw, her she gave me every ounce of happiness I needed. She was an extremely curious little girl, ready to get used to her new surroundings.
“What are you going to name her?” said Rylee.
I knew I had to come up with something very meaningful.
“Athena. I am going to name her Athena,” I said. The name Athena is the name of the female Goddess of War. I thought this was perfect because I am an Aries; Aries is the male God of War. Her name also means wisdom which, fits her perfectly since she is very curious and sneaky.
If it were not for my new kitten Athena, I would have no idea where my mental health would be today. She has brought me an immense amount of joy which I will be forever grateful for.
It was April 3, 2020, time for my birthday. Honestly one of the best birthdays I have ever had. My birthday poster was the best part of this day.
For a traditional birthday in my family, there is normally a celebration or adventure of some kind. Most people want to spend this day for themselves doing something they want.
This year, I was not able to have a normal birthday.
In the last year of childhood at 17 years old, something fun had to be done. Covid hit the U.S. with rocketing numbers about a month prior to my birthday. This meant 17 was going to be the year of quarantine.
“It is a bummer I have to stay quarantined today, but my family tried to make it the weirdest, most memorable birthday for me,” I said.
My dad had made me two awesome posters that we put out in the front yard. Little did I know this was for a drive-by!
My step-mom, Meaghan, planned for our friends and family to get together around two o’clock in the afternoon down by the church on Main Street. Everyone was supposed to line up and get ready to drive down the street and perform a car parade.
“I honestly had no idea how this was going to play out. But once everyone came, everything went smooth,” Meaghan said. There were about 12 different cars strolling down Clark Street to wish me a very happy birthday.
If it weren’t for the posters, most people would have been confused about what was going on.
As of today, I still have my Covid birthday posters, and I could not be more grateful for experiencing such a unique event.
Soleil Randall: A Different Perspective
This bare-boned digital sketch (created in Autodesk Sketchbook), while unfinished and still currently a large work in progress, is a visualization of the feeling of aimlessness, restlessness, and limbo I’ve had during the pandemic.
A commonly reported feeling during the pandemic is of the days, weeks, and even months bleeding together. But I’ve also felt like the same thing happening with my schoolwork. My motivation to do what I previously would have felt sure of doing was gone. Then eventually, my direction of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do disappeared.
As a fully remote student, I was not only distanced from the companionship of friends and peers but also from an environment of setting goals and having the drive to reach them.
The reassurance that my ideas of what I wanted to do with my future could be easily seen in others around me. Even just overhearing something in a conversation while walking down the hall is something I never noticed as important in my daily life until now.
Spending almost all of my daylight hours on the computer doing almost everything, from schoolwork and college applications, to socialization and watching or playing entertainment, even outside breaks, made the boundaries between one thing and another start to fray.
It’s become increasingly easier to start any activity in front of me while not fully registering what I’m doing, or why, or when I’m supposed to be doing it. Simply signing on to my computer and doing the first things to come up on a list or school page is now a practiced habit.
In the time that I’m not on the computer, I feel like I’m constantly disassociating, not having purpose linked to much else outside of my desk.
If I were to put all these feelings into a (somewhat) habitat, it would look like an Escher-esque* space of infinite stairways, dissimilarly-styled doorways, and unhelpful neon signs that point in ambiguous directions, which is what this piece will incorporate into its final product.
I also plan to put a classical-style statue of a single angel wandering the space, looking a bit worse for wear at certain points around the page to tie into the historical meaning of the word “limbo,” which in Roman Catholicism refers to a place for souls that couldn’t get to heaven due to not having received baptism in life.
In this context, it’s a soul that can’t really find a way out of the house, due to not having received a Covid vaccine nor the benefits of herd immunity.
*M.C Escher(1898-1972) is a famous mathematically-inspired illusionist artist.
Alisa Stolyar: Repetion and Longing
I’ve been a remote student all year and it has had its benefits, but the detriments are definitely draining at times. Staring at a computer screen for so many hours every other day has become my definition of “going to school.”
This, coupled with the hours I spend at the computer doing my homework or working on asynchronous assignments on the days where I don’t have to “go to school” only increases the drain.
My bedroom is where I rest, where I do homework, where I exercise, where I sleep, and now it has become my classroom. On days when I have school, I find myself confined to my desk area, staring at my laptop.
They always told us that screens will be our demise and that we should avoid looking at our devices for too long. Now, it has become something that I have to do and nobody is talking about it.
Nobody is really acknowledging how much time remote students spend on our laptops every day, even though that is something that they try to curb when talking about the fully remote schedule where there are more breaks and less screen time.
In the string of photos, my face shows a solemn and bored expression as I stare at the computer screen. The photos range from early morning to evening, which the light changing outside the window reveals.
These photos were taken over a few days and were not staged.
In the first photo, I am on Zoom for my first-period class. In the second photo, I am doing asynchronous work in the afternoon. In the third photo, I am finishing up homework in the evening before the next day of school.
This fatigue is something I feel myself, as well as see many others deal with.
I can only speak for myself, but I personally feel burnt out and undermotivated because of this repetitive routine that I’ve found myself in.
I’ve been doing gymnastics for over a decade, and I’ve had the same coach for close to the same amount of time. When Covid started, my routine of going to practice a few times a week and seeing my coach and my friends ceased.
Last year was going to be my final year of gymnastics, due to some ongoing injuries. I was really trying to make the best out of it. It was really difficult to stop an activity that I have been consistently a part of for so long, especially so suddenly.
We didn’t know when our next practice would be or if I would even see some of my friends again. I had a few friends on the team who were seniors last year, and I didn’t see them during the day because they went to different schools. So gymnastics practice was really the only time I would see them.
Those teammates graduated last year and went off to their respective colleges. I didn’t even get to have the last meet or last practice with them.
I didn’t even know the last practice I attended was going to be my last one. I think we all were under the impression that we would go back to normal after a few weeks.
We all know now that wasn’t the case. We all really missed each other. In April, my coach decided to have a team Zoom meeting, so we could all say hi to each other and talk about how our lives have been going since we couldn’t have our typical gossip circles at practice.
In this photo, everyone is smiling because my coach asked everyone to pose for a picture.
This is the last photo I got with my team. I made a lot of great memories and I miss them very much.
Hopefully, when Covid is alleviated and everything is somewhat back to normal, I’ll visit the gym and get to see my teammates and my coach once more.
Tanya Khan: A New Version of Love in the Whale’s Belly
The Story Of Yunus (Jonah)
Prophet Yunus, as believed by Muslims, was swallowed whole by a whale. On the surface, this seems very whimsical and imagined– but every story in the Quran has a greater meaning behind the whimsy. Yunus is trapped in a dark place, feeling like there’s no way out, completely worn down.
This is how I felt when I painted on the canvas. The details on the whale, the nukta on the nün, sketching the circle to hold the essence of the calligraphy– the Whale, the Quranic verse, the silver leaf– all capture the storm of emotions and that’s why it’s not yet finished.
Every time I feel like I am inside the belly of the whale, I pick up my brushes, layout my paint, my epoxy, my silver leaf, my everything.
I pour it out onto the canvas. I need this painting because, with every stroke, I feel the presence of God, and I know, I just know. I know, I’ll be okay.
“He is the One Who enables you to travel through land and sea. And it so happens that you are on ships, sailing with a favorable wind, to the passengers’ delight. Suddenly, the ships are overcome by a gale wind, and those on board are overwhelmed by waves from every side, and they assume they are doomed. They cry out to Allah ˹alone˺ in sincere devotion, ‘If You save us from this, we will certainly be grateful.’” – Quran 10:22
Certainly, there are more forms than the single definition, be they abstract or unconventional, shoved down our throats. ‘Love is meant to be between two people– a boy and a girl. They’ll get married, have kids, and the goal is for them to stay together forever.’
That’s not the type of love I wanted to capture in this calligraphy.
I believe that when someone else is a part of your love story, there’s too much room for error— too many things could go wrong. But when the conversation revolves around loving yourself, the simplicity is beautiful.
You just want to see yourself in this stage of your life like you once did many years ago as a young child— rekindling an old love, per se.
Quarantine was a very trying time in my life, as it was for many people, and I don’t think I would have been able to get through it if I didn’t learn the art of loving myself.
Julia Lerner: Working During a Pandemic
In July of 2020, I got a job working at a grocery store. Grocery shopping has become very different during the pandemic.
Signs are in place to make aisles one-way traffic and to keep people six feet apart when checking out. Most people follow these guidelines and wear their masks appropriately, but not all do.
I have dealt with rowdy customers and complaints over the course of the last year. It’s exhausting.
I normally work six-hour shifts about two or three times a week. I need to wear my mask for the entire duration of that time. I’ve gotten used to it, but it annoys me when I hear people complaining about having to wear theirs’ for only a few minutes.
We even have to wear masks after the store closes while we clean up and organize shelves.
These photographs were during that time once the store was closed.
Workdays are tiring for most jobs in normal times, but with all the additional problems and steps needed to be taken to ensure people’s well-being, that fatigue multiplies as our work responsibilities do too.
This job has become one of the focal points of my life during the pandemic.
I’m a remote student who doesn’t physically go to school, and I only see a couple of friends outside of school every once in a while.
Being able to have this job keeps me sane, as it keeps me busy and connects me to the rest of the world.
In the past, I’ve only been able to have a job over the summer because of my lack of time during the school year. Now, due to the pandemic, I only have school every other day and am able to work more often now.
Lisa Senin: A New Look About My Parents
From March 28 to April 2, 2021, my parents and I vacationed in Texas, since they are planning to move there. I took this picture of my parents at the spot called Inner Space Cavern (basically caves).
They wanted a picture of themselves, so I took one for them. Looking back at it, I have some sort of emotional attachment to it. To me, it signifies the growth of our relationship since the pandemic started.
The image itself doesn’t have anything about it that is significant to what made our relationship change. I could have chosen a photograph of my parents from maybe four months ago, but it wouldn’t have felt the same.
It’s only when this picture was taken that this time in our relationship was captured. I’d like to say my relationship with my parents has evolved positively.
Before quarantine, they weren’t really a part of my life. I was busy with school, and they were just the people I’d see when I got home.
Yet, around last March, when things were at their worst Covid-wise, I’d say my parents and I started doing lots of things together. We became a part of each other’s day-to-day lives.
It was a new dynamic and it was very unnatural, so it took a lot to get adjusted. Nowadays, Covid restrictions are lifted much more, so my parents and I aren’t a part of each other’s day-to-day lives again.
But that gap of quarantine in between changed the way I think about my parents. During that gap, having to be physically present with my parents, I became more aware of what our relationship has been.
I noticed that I had actually been ignoring my dad and getting mad at my mom a lot. I never even knew because when I get angry I don’t express it I just keep it quiet.
So I noticed just how often I would get quiet around them. I noticed a lot of the responses I’d give to them in conversation, and how they would be very sarcastic.
They started to occupy my mind a lot more as my problematic relationship with them came to light, which was a little painful, but I had nothing else to worry about really from quarantine.
Little by little, my anger towards them went away. I would journal about them because realistically I realized I had nothing to be angry at them about.
Nipun Kasari: Speed-cubing During a Pandemic
The image is a screenshot of the website cubingtime.com, which is an online Rubik’s Cube Timer my friends and I used during the pandemic to solve Rubik’s Cubes remotely because of the closure of official tournaments.
It shows the tool that I have been using to experience the same exciting events I used to attend before the world went into lockdown: official Rubik’s Cube competitions.
This image relates to the theme of being a teenager during an extraordinary time because the Coronavirus has caused the closure of many in-person Rubik’s Cube events around the world.
Many teenagers like me are unable to socialize with friends and have fun at competitions in person.
Rubik’s Cube competitions never get old. I usually go to five to six competitions a year, and each one consists of several different types of puzzle events. The experience of competing with friends and setting personal records is thrilling.
After we went into lockdown, I was upset that there is no solution to the problem of hosting competitions during a pandemic.
People from different regions attend the same competitions, so if they reopen during the pandemic the virus can easily spread.
At first, I was really concerned about what this means for the future of competitions. I was worried that this would last for a very long time.
However, I still practice solving Rubik’s Cubes every now and then. I zoomed with my friends who I usually see at competitions and practiced with them as well.
I realized that although we’re not in person, I still had fun and the experience wasn’t bad at all. Although I couldn’t set personal records in official competitions, I could still set personal bests at home and race my friends to improve my solves.
That’s when we found the Cubing Time Rubik’s Cube Timer. The website was perfect for practicing in group sessions and racing one another.
We used the website almost every time we called each other remotely, and we came up with our own games to play every week.
The timer allowed me to connect with my friends and my favorite hobby during a dark time.
Emma Hansen: Environmental Troubles of Disposable Masks
A little over a week ago, I was walking home from the downtown tennis courts. I tend to notice things on foot that wouldn’t normally catch my eye from a car window. So along the route, I counted approximately 20 discarded single-use masks laying on the ground, flattened, and dirty as I had passed by.
I’ve always spotted trash like crushed cans and empty cigarette packs on my walks home, but then it occurred to me that I had never walked on the roadside since the pandemic began. I had never noticed how big of a problem improperly disposed of masks could be until I saw them in large numbers strewn along the street.
Soon after, I grabbed a blanket, sat at my desk, and created this piece to represent the issue of face masks that have been not properly disposed of.
I drew the hands in positions that would convey the carelessness and clumsiness of people who partake in such harmful actions with the masks dangling from their fingertips.
To make this piece, I used a pencil to sketch the rough idea, a pen to create the outlines, and acetone markers to add color and shading. I wanted to add more diversity in both the mask types and skin tones, but I was restricted by the available shades of markers. It took me approximately two hours because I hadn’t worked in this medium in a while.
While making the drawing, I pondered the possibility of biodegradable masks that could be created in a way that makes them cheap and readily available for a larger portion of the population.
An interesting alternative would be the creation of masks that could be recycled by traditional methods, where they could be thoroughly sanitized and broken down to be used for other products.
I hope that by creating this, people will consider investing in reusable and washable masks that have been approved by scientists as safe, so they aren’t tempted to litter when presented with the issue of disposal.
Hopefully, this image will keep the well-being of the environment in the back of people’s minds throughout their day, imposing self-discipline when approached with the opportunity to take the easy way out and drop their trash on the ground or throw it out the window of a car.