17 Apr Cut Short: How High School Seniors Are Coping
First Person, Various authors
Editor’s Note: With schools closed because of the coronavirus, this year’s high school seniors have lost a lot: Proms, graduations and other quintessential moments will be missed, delayed or altered. They can no longer share halls and classrooms with friends and fellow students as this momentous era of their lives comes to an end.
Richmond Pulse asked local students how they are coping with the loss, how they are dealing with the shelter-in-place and social distancing and what is helping them get through it.
“I’m coping by looking at the bigger picture. Yes, I might not go to prom or have a graduation, but it’s for safety reasons and I have to give that consideration. We are going through an epidemic, and we have to make some sort of sacrifice to make sure things will return to normal someday. That means staying home as much as possible and social distancing.
“I, myself, am a very social person. I like to be around people and going out. So social distancing has been hard, especially staying at home. It’s putting a strain on my mental health and, I’m sure, on everyone else’s. I try to pick up new hobbies, just to keep myself busy.
“My family is helping me get through this. It’s made me realize how important family is and that life is a gift. We all have to be on the same page if we want things to get better.” — Jasmine Vazquez, Richmond High
“I was really hoping for school to be closed temporarily. I only expected the shutdown to be, at most, two weeks until I heard the news that it was going to be three weeks. I got excited to have some time off, but I slowly realized it was not as good of a break as I thought. This virus turned into something many of us did not expect.
“I have only really kept in contact with my best friend from school through FaceTime and Snapchat. She has helped me through these long days when things start to get depressing. She keeps me on track to do things and to not wake up too late in the day. I find it difficult to find the motivation to do any work. My only coping mechanism has been working on photography and trying to keep a well-organized daily routine.
“Being here in the comfort of my home makes me realize how much school actually impacts my life for the better. It not only gives me the social outlet of being able to see and talk to my friends, but it gives me a hands-on education that I would much rather have.” — Chris Mendizabal, DeAnza High
“The way I’ve been coping with prom and graduation being canceled is by keeping my mind distracted from the topic. But, then again, I try to think of ways I can celebrate these events with my friends when this is all over.
“To deal with shelter-in-place and social distancing I’ve been sleeping a lot more and I have been bettering my makeup skills. I try to go in the backyard and relax by gardening as well. FaceTiming my friends is helping me get through this hard time. Asking them what they’re doing to pass time eventually helps me pass time as well. I’ve also been spending more quality time with my little sister.
“When we had to go to school, we wouldn’t have time to spend together, but now that we are always home, we’ve been doing a lot of things together, such as cooking new dishes, rearranging our bedrooms and playing sports in the backyard.” — Fiza Ali, Richmond High
“I am not dealing with the situation well. As a senior, my time in high school has been taken away from me, although I am constantly reminded to remain grateful since we get to be at home and safe.
“Being stuck at home makes me regret the days not going out when I was able to. I also didn’t think I’d miss school as much as I thought, but I really do.
“Even though I can’t see my friends or family these days, communicating with them when we can keeps me a bit sane. My mother and sister does keep me in high spirits too.” — Cherymae Nievarez, Kennedy High
“I’m getting through this. I am sad because a lot of events and my sports games had to be canceled. Although [the] majority of my senior activities were canceled, I am glad that I’m not risking my health.
As far as shelter-in-place, I am coping with it not too well, because I feel like I am in a confined room all the time, and I love being outdoors and active. Social distancing really sucks because like any other person, I need human interaction and apps like FaceTime, Zoom and Snapchat cannot replicate the real thing.
Music is helping m through this. I try to keep myself occupied with music so I can avoid boredom. I’ve also been trying different genres to keep it interesting.” — ReyZarria McMillon, Kennedy High
“When the pandemic first started, I remember one of my teachers downplaying it, saying that it was no bigger threat than the flu. This made me feel like everything was going to be OK. Within a few weeks after hearing about COVID-19 in the United States, schools were closed down. I remember the Friday that school was closed, I was at Foods Co. getting trained as an employee. I remember going to the store and seeing long lines, arguments turned into fights, and carts filled items that customers chose to not buy.
“Keeping up with schoolwork has been a hassle, mainly because I have to work at a grocery store during a pandemic. The store is always full, workers are coming in, and cashiers such as myself are needed to handle the long lines. Online classes have been hard for me, especially because I feel a lack of connection with peers. It also feels like summer vacation, so it’s just harder for me to focus. I’m still trying though and I try to do what I can with the time I have.” — David Aldana, Richmond High
“I am doing well with everything that’s going on, yet I’m having a hard time with all these online classes because I was actually getting the hang of my schoolwork because having my teachers there was making [it] way easier. I just feel unmotivated. I’m dealing with the shelter-in-place pretty badly. I hate staying home doing nothing. Also, I can barely even see my girlfriend. This social distancing is whack, but my PS4 and phone are helping me get through this. I wish everything could go back to normal.” — Daniel Medina, Richmond High
“Once the shelter-in-place was enforced, I felt like I lost it all. School was my escape from my house. I felt like I could be myself in school without having someone judge everything I do. Being at my house gives me the feeling of being trapped. I cannot have the same conversations with people because FaceTime is not the same as connecting with someone and appreciating their presence. I cope by keeping myself busy and having time to think about what is coming after high school. I ask myself if college is worth it. I ask myself a lot of things. But, hey, another day being alive is another day being wiser.” — Raul Manzo, Richmond High