I would like to start by saying that not a single soul remains untouched by this virus. However, people have been touched in different ways. Some have to stay longer hours at the clinic, others struggle to find a job and others get to spend more time in their multi-million dollar Beverly Hills mansions. During this pandemic, no two situations are the same.
Now that I’ve acknowledged that, I’d like to highlight my own experience during quarantine. The two things that have affected me most in the past two months are school and sports.
Now, weeks into quarantine, our old system of school seems so impossible to replicate that I often ask myself, “Did I really get up that early to physically attend 4-5 classes every day?”
As seniors, we hate to admit that we have come to love the ritual of school during the second semester. There is little to no pressure to perform, which makes it easier to immerse oneself in the material. Often, the last semester of high school is when the best and most fun learning occurs.
But online learning does not produce the same feeling. In fact, Zoom classes and graded homework coupled with the simultaneous distractions of the internet make learning much harder.
Although some seniors may act like they don’t care at all about the final grades they receive, there is something inside all of the oldest kids in the school that makes us want to succeed, to leave our positive mark on the school and to finish things off well. That, of course, has become much more difficult.
Ever since my freshman cross country season, sports have been a highlight of my experience as a Hopper. During my sophomore year, I focused on running and experienced tremendous growth as a result. I had the pleasure of running at ISL/MAC and State Championships that year. I remember setting a personal best in the 1600-meter that day, and on the bus ride home from the meet, I dreamed of where I would be running two years down the line.
Though those two years seemed so far away, they flew by. This season, it seemed like everything was going to work out—I had trained my tail off during the winter and remained unscathed by injuries. But then our first meet was canceled because of fears of the spread of the coronavirus. We had only two more in-person practices until our season was cut short.
I made a conscious decision from the beginning of school’s closure to continue training for two reasons: so that I could still have my senior season, and so that I could get in shape for next fall.
I set goals for myself. I trained consistently on my own, but despite the hard work I put in, I fell short of reaching some of them. This does not bother me, though. I feel much worse for the freshmen who were robbed of their first chance to run a St. Albans meet, or pitch on the junior varsity baseball team, learn how to cradle a lacrosse stick or alter their sleep schedule to accommodate crew workouts.
I also feel for the sophomores who weren’t able to enjoy a normal season during the best year of high school—one without pressure of being in a new place, having too much schoolwork or worrying about going to college and having to leave a place you have come to love.
My heart also goes out to the juniors who didn’t get the chance to fall in love with their sport enough to decide to continue playing it in college or to those whose meetings with college coaches on campus had to be canceled.
Of course seniors were robbed of their athletics seasons, but the other three quarters of the school suffered a great loss as well.
But not all has been lost. The GDS community has in many ways strengthened. The plethora of Zoom calls and digital events for different clubs and teams serve as a reminder that Grasshoppers will naturally stick together, no matter how violent the storm.
Seniors, rightfully so, have been spoiled rotten throughout all this. We have been well taken care of. We are endlessly grateful for the support we have received from the administration, our teachers and other students.
So I’ll leave you with a Charles Dickens quote that, given the circumstances, will resonate well with you all, I hope: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Oliver Satola ’20