Illinois, USA – Joey Cumpian
My name is Joey Cumpian, and I am a senior at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois. I’m involved in a lot of different clubs in my school. I’m the president of my school’s Business Professionals of America, I’m on the mock trial team, and I’m involved with Model United Nations and the National Honors Society. Some things that I really enjoy doing are singing, meeting new people, and having fun and working hard.
When we had our first case of Covid-19 in Chicago, everyone thought that it wouldn’t get any bigger than that and that everything would be fine. Everyone was very happy about that two week break, but it was not something that anyone anticipated would become something larger.
Back in March, right when the quarantine began, I got really sick, and obviously, I did not get tested at the time, so I didn’t know if I had Covid-19 or not. But, there is a possibility that me and my sister got the virus already. But we don’t know for sure. But in terms of the virus’s potency, I think it definitely can affect people really bad and it’s something to be taken seriously.
I would say I’m very extroverted. I definitely need other people’s energy, I need socialization. I definitely struggled a lot with the fact that I couldn’t see people because that’s something that I just incorporate into my everyday life. It’s something that’s really important to me, and not having that was definitely tough.
Initially it was really hard to stay motivated to stay in shape and move around because there was nothing to do and no one to see. But after about the first four months of quarantine, I decided to really start focusing on that, since around August. So that’s become a really big part of my life, and just kind of incorporating exercise into everyday, which is something that I hadn’t done for years.
I think the three most important things that quarantine taught me is the value of independence, holding yourself accountable, and finding the people that you care about the most and prioritizing them
My friend group has become extremely close – we only hang out with each other. But in terms of my not-as-strong friends, that I was still definitely friends with but was not as close with before,some of those bonds are just completely severed. There’s people that I’ve been friends with for the past five years, and sure we may have never been best friends, but we’ve all always been friends. And all of a sudden it’s like we don’t wish each other happy birthday anymore. And I think a lot of people at my school and in my community can relate to that.
In Chicago we started in phase one, complete isolation. Then there was phase two, where only go to essential places. But then, for the most part, it was stay at home order, then it was phase three. More places were reopening that weren’t necessarily essential. Then we went into phase four over the summer. So pretty much everything was reopened. Of course, everyone still has to wear masks and socially distance from people that they don’t spend a lot of time with.
Because we’re in a big metropolitan area, we do have a lot of free testing sites all over the city, which I know a lot of my friends and I utilize. So I’ve been fortunate in terms of being able to get my tests easily.
A couple friends of mine and I, we developed our own website and nonprofit organization called Quarantine Coalition. Our organization is dedicated towards helping teens and different families across the United States, and especially Chicago, to get through the virus.
We would do things such as uploading news articles every single day about the status of COVID-19 in our area, and in our country, as well. Just kind of inform citizens that are visiting our website on how to stay safe during the pandemic. We also posted a number of like stay at home activities that you could do.
Additionally, I started waking up at 4 A.M. everyday. Before school, I would go volunteer at United RX, which is a long term care facility that serves 300 nursing homes in the Midwest. I volunteered there in order to be able to help send out medications to nursing homes all over my surrounding area. It was a really amazing experience to be able to go there and just see the impact that I had on my community. Volunteering was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
We’re all virtual, all Chicago public schools. There’s a lot of schools that my friends go to that are private, and they’ve been doing the hybrid system. But, it is a really tough year in terms of that, especially as a senior because it’s like you expect it to be like so hype. It is disappointing to say the least. We don’t get to have a homecoming, and all of our classes are online, so it’s really hard to stay engaged.
We have some rule that regards cameras in class, but no one really enforces it. I know some teachers do require that you have your camera on the whole class, but for the most part, I would say it’s pretty lax. We’re on a block schedule, so it varies from class to class.
I really wanted to be in person in the beginning of the school year, because it’s way more real. It’s way more fun, especially in senior year. But, now that like we’ve gotten this far into virtual learning, that’s just what makes sense at this point. Like, I don’t even want to go back anymore. I feel like it won’t be the same.
College applications are rough. I waited way too long to start, so I’m under the gun right now, let me just say that. Research your colleges over the summer, so that you can know where you want to go and know where you want to apply. Get all your letters of recommendation and send your transcripts do everything you need to do as early as possible because you don’t want to be doing it in December and having to rush all of them out. I also really want to travel. That’s something that I really want to do soon.
Our school has been giving out Chromebooks, tablets, art supplies, and anything that students might need. Resource allocation has been phenomenal in Chicago – we have food depositories. I think it’s really beautiful what the Chicago community has done for its people.