25 Nov Teens Thankful for Life and the Little Things on Second COVID Thanksgiving
(Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash)
Commentary, Various Authors
Editor’s note: We asked a group of Kennedy High students to tell Richmond Pulse what they are thankful for. For the second year in a row, Thanksgiving comes while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. That has made some teens more grateful for their health, the people in their lives and even school. Some shared the objects they appreciate as well. Their responses have been lightly edited.
The first thing I am thankful for is my health. I am glad neither myself nor my family members have gotten sick. I know a lot of families are dealing with COVID, and I am thankful that I haven’t had to experience it. I’m happy and thankful that I am able to get good grades. The grades will help me, especially when trying to find a job or go to college.
— Brandon Blackmore, 14
I’m blessed to see another year. A lot of people don’t make it. I want to do so much with my life. I’m thankful for my friends and family [who are] safe and still close with me. I’ve lost a couple family members this year, but we keep going for them.
— Jonathan Gandara, 17
This year, I am thankful for all the people that are in my life right now. This year made me realize who my real friends and family are.
— Tanna Souksumphan, 17
I am thankful for my friends this year at Kennedy High School. I’ve lost so many people I thought were my friends, but losing people made me realize who my real friends are. I appreciate the friends who stay around me and give me the same energy back even when we haven’t seen each other in a long time. I am mostly thankful for my best friend, Vanessa, because she has been with me since third grade. Now, we are in high school, and what a journey our friendship has lasted.
— Wency Tagubase, 17
[Editor’s note: Andrea Zepeda’s response below was translated from Spanish.]
I’m thankful because my family is healthy and did not get sick with COVID. We were not without work. We were always united and knew how to move forward regardless of the circumstances. I’m also thankful because I’m still studying, and even though it is very difficult to study and work, my family always supports me in everything. They are always there for me when I need them. My family is what I will always be thankful for because although it is not a perfect family, it is the best family. I’m thankful because we are alive and with [good] health and because I have the people I love the most at my side.
— Andrea Zepeda, 18
This year, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for my family. They have been with me and helped me. I am also thankful because my parents are alive and I am alive. Also because COVID has not affected us. We have been safe this year.
— Tikvah Samayoa, 17
I’m thankful for not giving up on school and trying my best. I’m also thankful for my mom because she always supports me and is there for me.
— Stephanie Gonzalez, 18
Coming back to school after a year of being at home has been one of the most anticipated moments of my life. I’m truly thankful seeing all my friends and family members again, in and outside of school. Being at school has been such a fun experience. The events, the people, everything coming together to make our high school experience a little more spicy. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of my school’s homecoming — an event that was put off because of COVID. At the event, I could see how much our work has paid off and how much fun the students were having. I truly felt free.
— Kimberly Nguyen, 17
I am more than thankful for the life I’m living. For my family. For the food my family puts on the table. I am grateful to be alive and healthy because some people aren’t so lucky. I am thankful for my house and the blessing of living in the U.S.
— Antonio Hernandez, 17
This year has been better than last year. Many good things have happened. I’m thankful for my family members, my friends, sports, food and, most important, my girlfriend! She brings me a lot of joy every day, and without her presence, I feel lonely. This year has been full of happiness because of her.
— Kevin Parada, 17
Something or someone I’m thankful for is my boyfriend. I know it’s corny, or even cheesy, but it’s the truth. I’m glad I have him in my life because he always helps me and supports me in my dark moments, and he just makes me so happy. I couldn’t ask for a better person to spend my time with because he’s just so special, amazing and just so perfect too. I’m glad I got to meet him this year, because without him I don’t know what I would be doing. He’s my whole world and universe, and without him, I wouldn’t be as mentally stable as I am now. I’m just thankful for him this year, for being with me, and hopefully forever too.
— Sandra Guzman, 17
I am thankful for my parents. They work long hours every day to support our small family. They don’t make a lot of money, but they try their hardest during the holidays to spark joy. It will be difficult to stay positive and not miss our loved ones, especially after they have passed away. I’m grateful that they’re watching over us as we navigate our way through this world.
— Beatrice Leal, 17
I’m thankful for being able to go to school in person this year and finding work. I’m working at the RYSE center. I’m thankful I got to meet new people and learn new things because if we were still in lockdown, I probably wouldn’t be able to grow and expand myself and make money to help around the house and get in-person help in school.
— Mickie Byrd, 18
I’m thankful for being in school this year, also for being able to drive and focusing on myself and school. Being in school this year has been really good for me because I get to talk with everyone and play sports and stay outside more. Last year, I was at home all year doing Zoom classes. I was also lazy, doing nothing but sleep and eat. I’m also thankful for being able to drive because I always want to go places and go out with family members and friends and have fun outside than staying home. I can also take my parents to their appointments and take them wherever they want instead of always ordering an Uber and waiting for it to come. I have been focusing on getting good grades for the rest of the school year.
— Saqr Ali, 15
I am thankful for everyone in my life —my family, my amazing friends, [even] for toxic people. I’m thankful for my teachers and everything around me. I am thankful for having a roof over my head, food and a family who supports me. I am very thankful for having an education because I know that not many people have the opportunity.
— Julissa Gonzalez, 15
This year, I am thankful for a ton of things. One thing I am thankful for is no one passing away from COVID-19. My grandpa passed away, but it wasn’t from COVID, which means he didn’t pass away because of some dumb disease. I am thankful for getting my first job, driver’s permit and first bank account. It feels great to know that I am growing up and going in somewhat the right direction.
— Bryan Peraza, 17
Good health. Even if your health isn’t great, it could be worse, and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for. Money in the bank. Good friends. Freedom of religion. Your parents. Weekends. Having a partner. Pets.
— Ivan Perez, 16
I’m thankful for many things. I’m thankful for my friends and family because family and friends is one of the best parts of life. I’m thankful for my life and my personality. I’m thankful for having an education and teachers that care about me and wish to help me succeed. I’m thankful for my hobbies that keep me going and keep from being bored. I’m also thankful for my future that I have high hopes for. And I’m thankful for me and being me.
— Anisa Providence, 16
I am thankful for my family and friends. I am also thankful for school to be back in person. Last year was hard in general and I’m thankful that things are somewhat going back to normal. I’m also thankful for all the teachers who worked with us during this hard time. I am also thankful for being healthy.
— Victoria Cortez, 16
My family, friends and everyone else in my life — I don’t know where I would be without them.
— Lynn Mixon, 15
This year, I’m thankful for food, shelter, clothes and my phone to talk to people across the world from me. I’m also thankful for my mother and both my sisters, my best friends who have been with me since birth. I’m thankful that I get to wake up every morning and see people I love and cherish. I’m thankful for school and that I live close to it. I’m thankful for people in the Army and Marines who protect me and the things I’m thankful for everyday. And lastly I’m thankful for music because without it, I wouldn’t know what to do. There’s a lot of musicians I’m thankful for that help me past through harsh days.
— Janiece Perkins, 17
I’m thankful for being healthy. I’ve taken health for granted. I didn’t know that mental health really affects how you act around people and how a mood could really make a situation better or worse. I’m grateful for my mother because through all the hardships, she still smiled and told me it was OK. I hope I can learn to appreciate the things I have in life and recognize that even though I have problems, I get to live a life of luxury compared to other people, and I have a life surrounded by people who love me.
— Aaliyah Hanvey, 14
I am thankful for living. A lot of kids my age either end up on the streets or dead. But the appreciation goes to my folks for keeping me right since I was a baby. You can come from a happy home and still end up in the streets. Remember that.
— Jawione Smith, 16
I’m thankful for my teacher for helping me, and I’m thankful for my family and friends because they help me with everything.
— Geydi Perez, 14
I am thankful for my bed, friends, family, my phone and my AirPods. I am thankful for the delicious food my mom makes for me every day, the money she earns by working. I am thankful for my sweater.
— Kimberly Hernandez, 14