Growing During Quarantine

Benjamin O'Leary
Virtual school has been challenging for high school students. (ThreeSixty Journalism/Emil Liden)

For many of us, 2020 has been an unusual year, from good to bad. As my life in 2020 goes, I like that some things are easier, but I don’t think I was ready for the challenges. This past year has given me so many good values about being a good person. 

This past year, most of the things I did were inside. For example, I enjoy spending time with my family and my two dogs, Henry and Hattie. Even before the pandemic, I had little interest in being outdoors. If I go out, I become more aware of my surroundings, wear a mask and keep a distance. I feel protected and also feel good about it. Many people have different views on whether or not the COVID guidelines should be followed. I learned to understand other people’s situations and their opinions. 

I was in seventh grade when my school transitioned to distance learning. Although distance learning is not my preferred learning style, I got used to it quickly. I feel more flexible since I can move anywhere I want without interrupting the teacher. When I started distance learning, my teacher set up their office hours for support. I attended their office hours frequently, to get engaged with the teacher’s support and to get to know them better. My teacher likes to see me in the office hours because distance learning can be challenging and they don’t like not being able to see their students. This situation wasn’t perfect, but it worked reasonably well. 

Last year, I began watching more news. I got to watch content that I didn’t know about previously. For example, after George Floyd’s death, seeing people protesting and dealing with this hard time makes me care more about others’ opinions. When my teachers discuss these topics that I am familiar with, I feel more connected and engaged. When I was in a gender-sexuality alliance during distance learning, it was fun to see my teachers teaching us about the LGBTQ community and seeing LGBTQ people taking action. I think it is very good that different people with different backgrounds are taking action because they are one of the first and they are inspiring others, especially young people like me. 

I feel more connected to my immediate family now that everyone is working and learning from home. I like that I’m able to talk about homework with my parents since distance learning can be complicated. It’s been harder to get together with my other relatives. It is crucial to know that we are having an unusual time, especially when I don’t get to see my grandparents often. We text each other a lot, but it is not the same as having a real interactive conversation. 

ThreeSixty Fall News Team students wrote op-ed stories, then turned them into digital essays, inspired by the #360YouthVoiceChallenge, which is inspired by youth.