Irvington High School – Ethan Chen

Initially, I was quite happy, not having thought COVID would last this long. I actually got my license in June. I immediately started taking over all the errands because I used to just travel around like a few blocks. I was delivering groceries not only for my family, but also for all my relatives that lived in Fremont since one trip was very convenient for me. And I’ve also driven to wish two friends a happy birthday. [My family] has gone to like boba shops, practicing six feet social distancing, and we’ve also gone to some beaches.

I also helped my cousins out [during quarantine] because their parents are busier than even full time workers. They basically have no time to care for their children beyond basic needs, so I help my cousins with any homework or other extracurriculars. My family also started cooking a lot, which is probably more cost efficient and safer since we don’t have to go out and get takeout. 

For the first few months of COVID, we were in each other’s space for three quarters of the day. I think the bond I have with my family is much stronger than it used to be because I would only see my family when my parents got home at 6pm. We’d all have to eat dinner and do our own work, so very little interaction back then. So I think COVID has definitely had some upsides for my relationship with them. We actually just finished a Netflix series, “Queen’s Gambit,” which is about a very bright, young prodigy in America, who’s very good at chess. 

I think I’m smiling a lot more now. I used to be very serious, but I think I’ve gotten more approachable, warm, and nicer. I’ve created a few very close friends during COVID. There’s one friend I play Minecraft with every day. I also still FaceTime some friends, which is probably a new hobby I picked up.

I have five classes this year. All of them are virtual. I think the teaching quality hasn’t gone down at all. They definitely did help students align, and they’re even more accommodating now, especially with late homework assignments. Some of them excuse us when we turn in late stuff, but I think I’m still learning everything that should be taught in the curriculum. Even though I’m in the comfort of my home, I still feel the pressure to do well in classes. In my English class, we have breakout room discussions when we’re reading books and different articles. I think those still make us still make me feel like I’m in a classroom setting. This year I’m taking AP Physics with Mr. Lee, who I’ve always loved. I think he’s known for being quite strict, and I can still feel it through the camera. He and all of my teachers do a great job of making sure students are engaged the whole time with our videos turned on. I don’t feel like I’m hundreds of miles away from my teacher. It feels like we’re just in the classroom, learning things, taking tests, and asking questions. I’m sure at the beginning, it was tough [for the teachers] to transition because they have to switch from in person entirely into virtual. But I think now, students are quite understanding. All my teachers are using Google Classroom very well. So any question we can ask on there, and any material can be categorized into different chapters. When we study for tests, it’s easy to just log on and click into any assignment we need. Office hours are also a very huge benefit. Before, a lot of us wouldn’t be able to stay after school since we would have to carpool or take the bus home. Since we’re in our homes, we can just log on to office hours after school and ask any questions we might have. We even have that 10 minute break in between classes, where some students, including me, just stay after class to ask clarification questions for concepts we don’t fully grasp yet.

My study habits have definitely changed. I found myself doing physics and statistics homework the day they were assigned. If we were at school, I would like to come back home and want to rest, even take a nap. I think now right after school ends, I’m able to use the knowledge I have learned that day to apply it to the homework and submit it the same day, so I’m more efficient with everything I do.

I think ASG has been doing the best we can. Our rally team is doing pretty well in compiling and organizing rallies, but I think we’ve lost the effect of all those chants, the loud music, and everyone gathered in one place. COVID has forced us to digitize everything we publicized and digitized our recruitment. We obviously aren’t able to plan any in-person events, but I think by now, a lot of the committees in ASG have transitioned well to planning things virtually. We had some bingo boards to aid Yemen. We’ve had “Adopt an Acre,” which is for nature conservation efforts. We have helped the homeless and had a canned food drive. We still engage the students by having spirit weeks quite often. We’re actively using social media. IHS Blue Crew reposts people’s stories when they tag us in spirit days, and our visualization team is creating good promotional material. Whether it’s flyers or videos, I think the quality is still quite high. We basically created a whole new curriculum, and everyone seems to be quite satisfied with everything that’s been going on. LINK is also fully digital. I think they’re keeping LINK leaders more engaged this year. We still have those weekly bi-weekly meetings with freshmen showing appreciation for them, and I’m actually studying with one of my LINK kids for the AMC math test.

I hope COVID doesn’t go on too long, but I think COVID definitely will change the way we all live. I’m sure my family’s going to be cooking a lot more at home. I think it’s both healthier, and more inexpensive. And I think a lot of things are going to be replaced by machines at this point since it’s like contactless, no humans involved. I went to Walmart and there was this robot arm making smoothies, which is actually pretty cool.

I hope everyone just stays safe. We will get through this. Just find something that makes you happy without risking or putting anyone in danger. And we’ll be fine. It’s a time of reflecting, and I’m sure we all have missed the past. But right now we can only look to the future and hope for a better time once we get back in person. 

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