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Effects of Pandemic on Eastern Christian Students

“Ninety five percent of college students have experienced negative mental health symptoms as a result of COVID-19-related circumstances. Almost half (48%) believe the mental health effects have directly affected their education.” This staggering statistic comes from Best Colleges, who recently conducted a survey- based study of the impacts on the mental health of teens due to the Covid outbreak. The lives of students around the world have been flipped upside down, and nearly two years later, teens are still feeling the potent effects of living during a global pandemic.

Students at Eastern Christian High School are back in their daily classes, and life as an entirety has returned to a semi-normal routine; but they are still feeling the heavy consequences they’ve been dealt by the pandemic. The lives of EC students before COVID-19 was a thought in anyone’s mind are both alike and distinct to the current lives of those same teens, in addition to their homeostatic way of life during the heart of global quarantine. As Eastern Christian students attempt to settle back into routine and normalcy in their academics, they struggle with the various ramifications of lockdown, both mental and corporeal, and desperately wonder the infamous, unanswered question; will life ever return to ‘normal?’

“Before the Coronavirus, there was a lot less stress than there is now, because schedules were simpler to work out, and doing things like going to school, seeing friends and playing sports were much easier to deal with,” comments Gianna Angelucci, a sophomore at Eastern Christian, as she reminisced on a, “simpler life.”

Based on the three high school students interviewed, it can be concluded that the pandemic has thrown a wrench in the chances of having a simple and carefree life, at least for the foreseeable future. Things that used to be second nature, such as a daily routine of academics and activities, are now more complicated than ever.

When questioned on the contrast between pre- and post- pandemic life, answers varied in the extremity of Covid’s effects, but, the overall consensus was summarized by Isabella Sutton, another sophomore; “Life is more limited nowadays in the sense of doing activities that bring me joy, without Corona related complications. School is more stressful than ever before, with challenges such as worries and fears of sickness.” Students interviewed were troubled by the fact that their previous modes of happiness were unattainable, considering they found it so crucial for people of this age to be able to express themselves in the ways they feel necessary, and do the things that they truly enjoy without these restrictions.

A third sophomore, Bryan Costa, touched on that very subject, expressing how he’s been affected by these sudden changes. “I miss when I didn't have to worry about being safe from the virus. It was a time in my life where all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends, but I couldn't.” It can be proved to observers of affects in mental health that teens have a natural desire to surround themselves with those they care about, and a feeling of helplessness can ensue when such is nonviable. This study shows that not only has this lasting virus affected the social lives of teens at EC, but has altered the way they face scholarly issues, possibly indefinitely, creating a stigma of worry around any type of school community for more reasons than one.

If the world seems to be an ongoing grapple for young learners this school year, it is safe to say that things were equally, if not measures more troubling, during the pinnacle of quarantine. Staying in touch was more difficult than ever, and teens needed to get creative during this time of immense change. For the current sophomore class, lockdown hit at what was already a time of great adjustment; the transition from middle to high school. This fact makes it easy to wonder, how many differences are due to the pandemic, and how many are because of the jump to high school? When asked about the effects of Coronavirus on her social life, Isabella responded, “it was hard not seeing friends, but I kept in touch with important people using facetime and video games.” She went on to add, “I didn’t lose friends, I dropped them.” While this offhand comment could easily be laughed off as typical teenage behaviour, the deeper meaning lies in the fact that being cooped up in the house for nearly two years intensified the already grueling time period of change and growth for teenagers. They needed to grow up faster, to decide what friends were true ones, and keep in close contact with them in every way currently possible.

Bryan introduced other issues presented by lockdown, sharing that, “When my parents got Covid in early April was probably the most difficult time.” It’s disheartening to hear that while students are already weighed down by such a developmental time in life, they now also have to worry for the health and safety of themselves and those they care about.

Furthermore, each student interviewed expressed strongly how burdensome and strenuous the challenge of at home learning was for them. Some repeated sentiments were the affairs of being distracted, missing a stricter routine, and struggling to retain information while also being deprived of any sort of pleasurable social interaction in a school setting. These things certainly took a toll on the spirits of students, but that didn’t keep them from doing everything in their power to keep some sense of habitualness and vitality. While hindering the ability to socialize, quarantine did present the opportunity for new hobbies and passions. Gianna said that while she often found herself bored while unable to make plans, she “tried to keep up normal activities as best I could… I even picked up the ukulele.”

Looking back on the things we all went through the past few months is unavoidable if we hope to grow and learn, but in no way does that mean that the students of Eastern Christian High School aren’t ready to dust themselves off and move forward, stronger and more connected than ever. While every interviewee seems to share the opinion that Coronavirus will probably never completely subside into nonexistence, and that it will eternally be a threat gnawing a the back of every mind, they all seemed to take away valuable life lessons that could only have been taught by the occurrence of a phenomenon such as this.

Isabella’s takeaway is that “people will learn the importance of not taking things for granted. Since so many things were simply average in our day to day lives, things that we don't experience at all now, we didn’t know we would miss it until it's not here anymore.”

Similarly, Gianna mentioned that “gratefulness is key.” She added, “I hope that soon, Covid won't be a factor in planning things, like school dances and hanging out with friends. It will make stuff more reliable and sure, instead of up in the air.” Faith in the future is surely a paramount thing to hang onto, as we continue through these different stages, considering we’ve all come so far, and are still going strong.

Continuing from the girls’ perspective, Bryan eloquently stated his own hopes for what’s to come. “I hope I continue to appreciate everyone and everything around me as much as I did during lockdown. I hope I can be as grateful as I am now for the rest of my life. I hope we all learned to be a little more selfless. A big part about wearing masks and getting vaccinated is not only to protect yourself but to protect others as well.” All in all, as trifling as this experience was for those in both the EC community and and the entire world at large, all we can hang onto and hope for is that after everything, people are just a little more united, just a little more in love with life, and a whole lot more human.

Isabella sums up her varied emotions, as well as hopes for the future; “After eighteen months of seeing no one but family, it was a relief to see the faces of my loved friends in person again. Finally getting to hug and hangout with them once more, for the first time, I felt like things might just be turning around, after all.

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