By: Jaclyn Kotora, Editorial Staff (‘23)

A year ago, all our lives changed in an unprecedented way. COVID-19 has caused worldwide crisis, isolation, instability, and fear. In December 2019, COVID-19 surfaced, and in March 2020, it was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since then, the world has faced new challenges that forced our society to change. The medical field has made significant advancements, as COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out to different groups of people by the millions. The worlds of education and work have changed drastically as the pandemic has forced schools and businesses to close and adapt to a virtual environment. Individuals have also had to overcome the many mental health issues, economic difficulties, and other hardships that the pandemic has caused. There is no doubt that this pandemic has brought on countless challenges of all kinds to every individual; however, it is important to recognize all that was overcome during the chaotic year. 

As a school and community, we were able to successfully adapt to a virtual environment and continue to support one another from the safety of our homes, despite all of these challenges. Mrs. Frissora, a teacher in the English department at Indian Hills, explains this transition, sharing, “The biggest lesson I have learned is how resilient young people are. As a teacher, I have seen students struggling with deaths in the family, illness, anxiety, depression, the loss of sports, dances, socialization, and yet they show up to class every day–whether in person or on Zoom–and give it their best effort. How could I not be moved and inspired?”

Educators have also adapted to best suit the needs of the students’ education and health. Mrs. Frissora explains, “I have also learned to be a much more flexible, adaptable, and empathetic teacher. The world has asked big things of us since 2020, and I have had to find innovative ways to meet students where they are, in spite of and because of the circumstances.”

Students definitely notice the work that teachers put in to create a suitable and comfortable learning environment. Audrey Hepponstall, a sophomore at Indian Hills, noted, “There has definitely been a change between virtual learning from last year and this year. This year, the teachers seem to have more of an understanding and the lessons seem to be tailored more towards the students and their success.”

The positive attitude everyone continues to bring throughout all of this is encouraging and something to be proud of. Mr. Guido, assistant principal at Indian Hills, commented, “As a school, our student body, faculty, and staff have continued trying to make a good thing out of a bad situation. It’s the “Brave-thing” to do and that’s what we have been doing, so I am proud of how we are responding to the pandemic.”

This positive attitude during COVID also allowed many to take the opportunity for reflection and improvement. Audrey Hepponstall shares, “I think Covid made me step back and observe, rather than focus on myself, as I would have done in school for grades… I think Covid in a sense made me and the rest of the world slow down a little, and maybe that is a blessing in disguise.”

Going forward, many hope that this nightmare will soon come to an end. However, as we continue to wait and cope with the current situation, it is highly encouraged that anyone struggling not to be too hard on themselves, and seek help from others. Mrs. Frissora advises, “We need to be kinder to ourselves, recalibrate our expectations, and accept that this is challenging. But there are silver linings everywhere if you look for them. I would also say to students to please communicate with your teachers when you are struggling–whether it is academically, personally, emotionally, or physically. This is not an easy time, so do not struggle in silence. We have supports in place to help you.”

It is safe to say that this has not been an easy year for anyone. Even so, I encourage you all to look back at the year and appreciate all that you were able to survive and overcome, no matter how small. As we continue 2021, I leave you all with these words by Craig Atler:

This year has been marked with reflection and change;

some days feel good and others feel strange.

We’ve learned to work differently;

and love more unconditionally.

We try to tune out the stress;

but sometimes life still feels like a mess.

We find ways to turn negatives into good;

and learn new skills that we thought we never could.

We find ways to travel to less congested places;

and we meet our friends with covered faces.

Hopefully, this year has been filled with opportunity;

and we’ve tried to exercise and strengthen our immunity.

2020 hasn’t been like we expected;

but we’ve found new ways to stay connected.

Hug your kids and enjoy the outdoors;

worry less about the very small chores.

Things will get better because they usually do;

enjoy what you love and learn something new.

Don’t forget to pray and always be kind;

try to stay positive and learn to unwind.

The story has been written, good wins in the end;

prayers for all my family and friends. (2020, Craig Alter)