Students search for ‘normal’ in a time of quarantine


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With students learning remotely for more than a year, traditional school seems like a distant past.

The high school experience requires grit, determination, and lots of effort in order to succeed. The pinnacle, of course, is senior year, which includes banquets, sports nights, school dances, pep rallies, trips, and special privileges in 12th graders’ honor.

For the class of 2021, this all hangs in the air. 

With the world on pause because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, high school has not taken its usual form. At AMSA, students are fully remote — until April 28 — and they spend their days learning on their computers, with pep rallies and dances on hold. 

Clubs and sports hang in the balance as well. Many clubs and sports, however, have been able to adapt to the Zoom age, such as the Drama Club. Senior Zeena Acharya explained that the club has adhered to social restriction and distancing guidelines and that they — somehow — performed a play online in the second week of January.

Utilizing Zoom, each student recited lines, sang songs, and made the most of it. Fittingly, the play was 10 Ways to Survive Life in Quarantine. Zeena explained that, while she was excited that the club pulled off a performance, losing the traditional aspect of performing was a big loss.

“I love to act and sing, but there is just a different effect in person,” she said. “Being able to see reactions in live time and share the experience with an audience, having a crew for lights and sounds, the creating of backdrops, are all things that make the experience so special.”

In the sports realm, students Zach Marchese, Anna Ciolino, and Lucy McCabe salvaged their last high school seasons despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

Anna, who plays varsity basketball and volleyball, praised the work of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association for all of the work that it has been done in order to give students the chance to play sports during their senior year.

Zach, who participates in track and field, has attempted to navigate the college recruitment process during Covid-19. Last year, when spring sports were canceled, was especially difficult because that is when student-athletes are first seen by recruiters.

“It is the biggest year because that is the year coaches send [individual event] times to colleges,” Zach said. He has had to be proactive by reaching out and speaking with coaches himself.

Lucy expressed gratitude for playing a sport designed for social distancing on a vast scale — golf. Lucy described the season as being “short, but I am really happy that we were able to have a way to be safe and play.”

Beyond sports and plays, AMSA seniors have missed much of the traditional high school experience and traditional markers, such as proms.

“I only really got two-and-a-half years of high school and missing out on pep rallies and dances is unfortunate,” said Frank McCabe, Lucy’s brother. “But the greatest downside to me is not missing out on those activities but online learning.”

A common theme among seniors was not losing sight of the big picture and taking important life lessons away from a unique high school experience.

“I get why students would be sad about missing out on [the prom] but Covid-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as well and I can understand the gravity of the situation,” Zach said.

Still, it is natural to lament how the year has played out.

“It is especially sad that I do not know the next time I will be able to truly connect with my classmates again, or if it will ever happen in a school setting,” Anna said.

If nothing else, it will give the current seniors plenty to remember and talk about, hopefully with a smile, during class reunions down the road.