Alaska, USA – Taylor Carey
I am Taylor Carey, and I live in Wasilla, Alaska, but my high school, Colony High School is in Palmer, Alaska. My first thoughts about quarantine? I hated it. We didn’t really know what to do in the beginning, because after spring break, which was in April, we started school up again. And it was all online. The teachers didn’t have a curriculum, they were kind of just there. The Zoom meetings were two hours long, and I had seven classes. It was horrible. But we got through it, and it’s way more organized now.
When quarantine first started, my friends and I started sending letters to each other. It was just good to have that connection with our friends. And then on sticky notes, we would write the movies we are watching, and we’d recommend movies for each other. It’s been a lot of chick flicks and funny movies to keep our spirits up.
The letter thing was very cool. My friend just sent me a letter one day with stickers and positive things in it. And she’s like, we should start doing this, and then we ended up doing it for months back and forth. And we only live nine minutes away from each other, but we can’t go see each other. So that’s something we’ve picked up.
I’m taking six classes total right now, which switch between the same 3 every other week, which is a little bit difficult since we keep remembering everything you were in the past week. But other than that, the school’s doing the best they can. I think it’s definitely running a lot more smoothly than last year. And now we actually have the option to go to school, be in person, online, or you can do homeschooling. There are so many different options for so many different learners.
We usually went five days a week, but since COVID, the school thought that it would lessen the chance of getting COVID if we didn’t have school on Friday, and it would also prepare us for our next set of classes.
A lot of people I know have gotten COVID. My own family members have gotten it, but I’ve been fortunate enough to not catch it. A lot of my classmates, on the other hand, have also gotten it so we are constantly shutting down school every two weeks. We’ve never had a full, solid week where we hadn’t had to shut down until this week, today being December 11th. When there’s a case, some students aren’t allowed to go back to school and they are quarantined for 10 days, even if they come back with a negative test. It’s pretty unorganized in Alaska, but it’s better than it was before.
We don’t really have any restrictions here in Alaska. We just have to make sure we’re wearing a mask. For school, we can’t wander all around like I did when I was a TA last year helping teachers out. You’re now restricted to one classroom, and there are only three people allowed in the bathroom at a time. You can’t move anywhere because of how hard it’ll make the contact tracing. So that’s the only thing I’m really restricted from but I have been going out in public as long as I have a mask since none of those places have locked down.
I always wash my hands now after every single meeting after everything. I always make sure I have masks in my car. Because everywhere up here requires them except my work, which is very weird. We don’t require masks. But I try to wear masks to just make people more comfortable.
I’m trying to be a positive influence in a positive aspect for my school. I’ve been trying to take this pandemic and look at it in a positive way. Like now, I cherish every single moment I get with my friends and family. I’ve lost family this year, and we weren’t able to have funerals for them, so I’m trying to look at things in a positive way and getting closer with my friends and family. Being able to hug them has been a very important thing for me. But I do think my personality has changed in a positive way.
I’m the student body president and I’ve been making a bunch of Instagram posts to try to get people to stay on top of their work because we’ve noticed a lot of students who are struggling to do their work. I’m also involved in volunteering in some service clubs, and we’ve been offering tutoring lessons and extra help for those students. I also have a bunch of students talking to me, you know, if they ever have a problem. I’m a pretty social person, and I’ve always been a person people can come to if they need to talk about things. So I’m trying to up our school positivity, and just be there for my class.
All of my teachers are coping with this situation, since they all have to now go online, but I think they’re doing a really good job. However, I’ve never seen so much stress for my teachers because there are so many kids failing classes. The teachers are amazing, but the stress looks bad on them. I don’t think it’s on them, however. I’ve easily been able to comprehend the material for four years now because of them. But I know they’re taking it really hard because they want students to comprehend their lessons online and some people are not cooperating.
I am very excited that we still have an in-person school. I was in charge of dances and prom and assemblies and all these things that we had to cancel last year, but now that we’re back in person, it gives me hope that we’ll be able to have a prom. Every single year of high school, one of our dances has been canceled, but especially this year, with everything canceled, any in-person events we can hold are meaningful to me. I also do hope the COVID vaccine will help us stay in person because I don’t want to let COVID make me feel sad and prevent me from living my life.
I have a lot of things to do for college; that’s what I’m really worried about. I’m worried about what the next step of my life will be. I’m not really stressed about high school, because I already have all my credits to graduate, and I’m just taking extra things at this point. I am in charge of planning our graduation and handling our senior funding and all these other events, but it’s really the unknown, not really knowing how things are going to go that’s on my mind.
I do hope that everything will go back to normal in the future, but I know that’s not possible. But I hope that things get close to normal. I do hope we get to a point later where we don’t have to wear masks or social distance. I’m excited for the day where I can hang out with my friends without being stressed about them getting sick, or me getting sick. The only worry I have is that we don’t come up with a vaccine that works and none of those things will return.
My fear is that some of my family members, they’re not living their life, and that’s what I’m fearing. My grandmas have saved up their whole life savings to go travel and to experience this world, but I also fear that they won’t be able to fulfill their life dreams. With COVID, they definitely aren’t traveling now and are afraid of catching or passing the virus if they travel.
When everything is over, we all should live our life. It might be scary now, but it will come to an end one day, so we should live our lives and cherish every moment that we get because no day is promised to anybody.