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Blog: A week in the life of a hybrid high school student

Margot Swetich is a senior at Northglenn High School who is in the process of applying for college.
Credit: Courtesy Margot Swetich
High School Senior Margot Swetich will be blogging about this upcoming school year.

NORTHGLENN, Colo. — Editor's note: Margot Swetich is a senior at Northglenn High School who will be blogging about her experiences during this upcoming school year. Read her full bio at the bottom of this story.

10/15/20 blog

There is a lot going on in my everyday life, and I think the best way I can represent this is by taking you, reader, through a tour of my week. 

Weirdly, my weeks technically begin on Wednesdays. Let’s start there. 

Wednesday

This is the one day a week where everyone is at home, which means we are “required” to meet on Zoom with teachers to check in on what's coming up. I put quotations around required, though, because generally we do not for all of my classes. Which, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for. Zoom fatigue is real, and we’re all feeling it. 

The reason this is technically our first day of the week is that this is when some teachers assign all of the work for the week ahead and have a chance to talk to all of us together if they want to.  

I wake up at 8 a.m. and I’m on Schoology for student government at 8:55 a.m., which we always get on Zoom for because it's a very collaborative class. 

After STUCO, I click over to AP Psychology. “Do I have a Zoom today?” I grumble to myself, looking for a message from my teacher that will tell me one way or another. This last week we didn’t Zoom, but I had a 25-minute video to watch. 

On to Yearbook, where I worked independently on my page about softball. I have to depend on people emailing me back on time with photos or replies to my interview questions. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see an email come back to me in a timely manner. 

Then it’s lunch time, followed by AP Lit where I read a poem and analyzed it, then AP Environmental where I filled out a Google Doc about human population, and finally, AP Stats where I had a practice problem to complete. Not too bad, right?

Wednesdays are easy in a way that they sort of always have been. It’s a short day, so class time is very brief and it forces my teachers to go easy on me, which is nice. 

Thursday 

Thursdays always feel a bit weird. It’s my first day at school for the week, so whenever I tell one of my teachers about something I did, I always want to say “over the weekend” even though I’m not sure if it was on Sunday or Wednesday when I discovered a podcast, or hung out with a friend or did an assignment. 

 All of my teachers except for one returned to school. This just means that for one hour of my day, instead of being in a classroom, I sit in the library with kids from several different classes whose teachers didn’t come back and we Zoom into our classes. 

Other than that, the day runs mostly like school normally might. Except, of course for the fact that at the end of every class hour our teachers come around with paper towels and cleaning spray for us to sanitize our desks and chairs. Sometimes I have to move to a different part of the room to charge my Chromebook in class, and then I have to sanitize both spots. 

The other difference from a normal year is that in all of my classes except for my math class, we do all of our work on our Chromebooks even when we are at school. This is because there are full remote kids in every one of my classes, and they need to be able to access everything just like those of us at school. 

Friday

Much the same as Thursday. However, while Friday is exciting because it means I have the next two days off, I spent the majority of the week at home now so there is almost a little disappointment in it. Looking out from Friday, I’ll be alone for five more days before I get to have in-person classmates to chat with again. 

Because of that, Fridays leave me a bit sad in a way they didn’t use to. I am happy for the time off from school work, of course, but I am not always happy for the time away from school. 

Saturday and Sunday

Hooray, it’s the weekend! Take a break, try to breathe, and catch up. These days, there always seems to be something to catch up on. How are college applications coming along, you ask? Please, let's not speak of that now. 

Monday

Back to school: home edition. I log in and follow my phone alarms ringing me from class to class. I was at the dentist the other day and the doctor had to stop a few of my alarms (it was a Wednesday so they were only 30 minutes apart) and I felt so bad, but that's what runs my life when I’m home. 

I go through each class in the same way I do on Wednesdays. I used to have to Zoom a lot more when everyone was full remote, so I am glad that these days it is a lot more rare. More often nowadays, I am given an assignment to do that takes the hour. Hopefully, I was prepared for the assignment on Thursday and Friday so that I don’t need help at home alone. 

Sometimes I take tests at home and wonder how the kids at school doing the same test feel differently than I do in the environment of my room. Of course, sometimes I’m the one who has to take the test at school. I’m never quite as comfortable, but I’m usually more awake. 

Tuesday 

Rinse and repeat from Monday. I sit around at home and attempt to get something done. Some days I am more successful at self-motivating than I am on other days. That’s just how it goes. 

Every once in a while, I forget to do a class because I get so distracted by being at home that I forget what’s going on until my next alarm shows up on my phone. That’s never a good omen when it occurs early in the day. 

Because I’m in the fall play at my school, I usually have to drive to campus as soon as I can log out in order to make it to rehearsal on time. It feels a little silly some days, to have been at home all day only to have to go spend a few hours at the school after all, but I am nearly always grateful for an excuse to get out of my house. 

And that’s my week. Day in and day out, I follow that general schedule of life and I try to remember that this is my senior year and therefore I will want to remember these days, even with them being as difficult and miserable as they sometimes are. I can’t lie, I am struggling with my motivation and overall well-being right now. But as my mom said to me tonight, “No one is doing okay right now,” and she’s exactly right. 

If you feel shaken up and sad, lonely and uncomfortable, just know that we all feel that way in some form or another. There are good days and bad days, but it can’t be argued that this is just not an ideal year for anybody. 

Take heart, and keep moving. 

10/2/20 blog

When we are in elementary school, we are taught about wants and needs. We do assignments where we say “I WANT ice cream, but I NEED food and water, so I will buy food before I think about ice cream.” It’s a pretty solid lesson, and obviously necessary for successful decision making later in life. We learn this lesson again in middle school when we talk about pros and cons. You would think we might be done, but freshman year we get our final lesson in interpreting risk when we are asked to do a cost/benefit analysis in our economics class. The costs of decision A are _____, _____ and _____, but the benefits are _____ and _____. Then you look at decision B, and ask the question, where do the greatest benefits lie? 

A few weeks ago, the district gave us an option: Go back to school half-time, or stay at home and continue remote learning. But then... all of the details we needed to effectively analyze the risks of either decision were just missing. 

“Will I have all of my same teachers either way?” I asked, and I was told, “We aren’t sure.” 

“Will I get to keep my AP classes if I stay remote?” I wondered, and my teachers replied, “They don’t know yet. We hope so.” 

“What of my activities? Can I be in the fall play if I do remote?” and I heard only, “Hmm, I’m not sure about that one.” 

All of these questions represented possible costs that I could not properly identify. So I made my choice: I would go hybrid in order to hopefully have more options in terms of my classes and activities. 

Now I find that my choice didn’t matter. No matter what I chose, hybrid or remote, I would get to keep most of my classes, because while I will be at school for two days of the week and home for the other two, we will all generally be meeting via Zoom either way. That’s right, even at school, my classes are almost fully digital. I am going to spend two days a week sitting on a computer at school rather than sitting on a computer at home.

Am I regretting my decision? Honestly, I’m not sure yet. There are so many things that I think I need to wait to see play out before I can really know if I made the “right” choice or not. Of course, none of the options were really that good; that’s just a fact of life on Planet Earth right now.

A few days ago I had to go into the school for a one-hour orientation so they could tell us some of the new rules and take our ID photos. If you could see us lined up there, in a grid of 6-ft intervals, you would absolutely be thinking that it seemed vaguely apocalyptic. There we were, standing on the football field, some 200 students who haven’t been at school for six months, being asked “Are you excited, seniors?” only to be met with a silence that could rival a freshman year seminar. We were playfully (and somewhat desperately) berated for our spirit level, ironically told that we should be making MORE noise, and told “this doesn’t seem like a senior class!” 

The thing is, we are even more checked out than an average group of seniors. Like I said, we haven’t been at school for six months, and all of the things that usually make senior year and high school in general exciting have been swept away from us. I don’t really feel like a senior at all after all of this time. We are so ready to not have to worry about the changes anymore and just graduate, and can you blame us? Nothing about this is normal, and many of us just want to get it over with so we can move on.

I have had a few old friends from the class of 2020 tell me they think my class has things worse than even they did. Some of them feel sort of validated by it after what happened to them, but I have heard mostly sympathy from them and even the classes that came before. It is difficult for any of us to conceptualize the fact that we are still in this mess when six months ago we thought we were just getting an extra week of spring break. It seems to me we are all growing fatigued of caring so much about everything though, so it’s starting to settle in with people that disruptions to everyday life are the new normal.

I have been and still am a huge proponent of making the best of things, but right now I feel a little lost. At orientation, as a faculty member was reminding us of the importance of always wearing a mask, he said, “following these rules is how we could potentially have a prom, or some kind of homecoming week,” and as much as I hope I am proven wrong, I just don’t think there’s any chance at this point. It isn’t up to us in any way, it’s up to this virus and the government and the vaccine and the individual citizens of earth. I know it wasn’t what he intended, but it feels a little cruel to get our hopes up based on our own behavior when it will not be surprising if they have to disappoint us in the springtime no matter how we act. 

I am starting hybrid school this week and I really hope that it is not as strange and as useless as I am currently anticipating it to be. I hope that seeing people in person, even if academic participation will still occur digitally, will be good for me and give me a renewed appreciation for my senior year. I hope I can refocus myself in my classes and really hone in on my academic world. I hope, I hope, I hope. 

9/21/20 blog

My school district decided last Friday that we would be going back to hybrid learning, with two days in school and three at home, and the option to stay fully remote. The result has been this feeling that I am in some sort of dystopian movie.

“Students,” they said, “you now have three days to decide your future. Would you prefer to risk your health and feeling of safety, or endanger your quality of education and feeling of community?” 

Normalcy has become more synonymous with change rather than consistency these days, but I couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed by the decision the school board made. They had this opportunity to keep us in the stability we have found with remote school, and they passed it up. They decided some further complications with this year sounded like fun. 

Personally, as I was attempting to make this decision, my mind changed by the hour. One moment I would know that my instincts were saying to stay remote, and a little while later I would recall that this is my senior year, so maybe I should give myself the opportunity to see my peers and laugh again. 

It wasn’t an easy process, but ultimately I decided I will be going back for hybrid learning this year. My dad seems to support this for the sake of my learning (since remote learning has been difficult for me in terms of focus and motivation), while my mom is concerned that the constant change - especially if we do end up having to return to remote if things get bad - has really been bringing me down, so maybe I should just stay home. The issue is, everything about this year is bringing me down, so I might as well try to alleviate some of the isolation by going back. 

I am worried. I made my choice and I wouldn’t change it, but my teachers had to make their choice too, and I am so afraid of losing them if they chose to stay remote and aren’t able to teach my class anymore. There was a possibility going into this, regardless of the plan we chose, of having our schedules change and I’m absolutely dreading it. I love my teachers and for the most part I love my classes. I would hate for that to be taken away too, like all of the school events that have become impossible already. 

Some of my peers saw this choice we were given as having a totally obvious answer: Go back to school! However, many of us also felt betrayed and uncertain, and for me it was difficult to struggle with this when others were telling me my concerns were foolish.

 We have to remember that all people are different. In this, all of our reactions will be different too. Something that excites an extroverted person will crush an introverted one. News that may bring hope to one person with depression will only increase the symptoms of another with the same blight. It is all defined by our individual thoughts and experiences, and that has to be okay. We have to accept that others experience the world differently than us. 

I have found a lot of hope this week personally, not from the news that I’m going back to school, but rather from becoming a more solid member of communities that fulfill me and speaking more vulnerably about how I’m doing with people who care to ask. I’ve also had a few difficult days when there was no way for me to increase my motivation and I felt completely stuck.

Everyone is talking about how humans grow when they go through adversity, but unless we actively ask ourselves questions about how we are dealing with different situations and who we want to be in difficult times, we will not change. Not to say that I am coping perfectly; I am often angry and reasoning can’t worm its way into my brain, but I am using the good days to recall what I can do to help my relationships and emotions improve. 

I was at my high school for a few hours today to help my director and costume designer move our costumes around as we get organized for the year. It was nice to be back there in that place where I made my first real community in high school, even with just myself and my two teacher sponsors there. 

I could remember for a moment why I care so much about my life at school. For too long it has been purely educational, but it’s time to come back to the joys of art and friendship and tradition that school brings along as well. With a mask on, lugging around those heavy boxes was even more exhausting, but I felt purposeful and helpful for the first time in a while, and that brought me a lot of happiness in itself. 

I have about two weeks until things change and we head into the building. More time to prepare my mind and calm my fears as best as I can. I trust my school and know they are doing everything they can to help make this transition better. I am so thankful for that, and above all grateful I’m not a school administrator right now because… wow, do they have their work cut out for them! 

9/4/20 blog

My emotional state in general is comparable to a radio. There are all these stations lined up; some of them play upbeat oldies that make me feel nostalgic, some of them play punk music that makes me feel empowered and some of them play ballads that make me want to cry. 

You may be tempted to assume that that is only how it is to be a teenager, but I would argue that that is what it is to be human, and teens just have it turned to a higher volume. We go between channels and they aren’t always good, but there is always a chance for something better.

Now imagine that someone took that radio and gave it to a toddler. The dials are so fun to spin, the screen that tells you the channel number is exciting to watch and the constantly shifting sounds are overwhelming but engaging. My life during this pandemic has felt like that. Someone is shifting the dials with reckless abandon, and there is little I can do. 

This week has been better in terms of work. There is a better flow of things from class to class, the workload is not too heavy and I am making it work. 

However, there is this itch that starts whenever I get too comfortable. I go from being content to suddenly being angry and disappointed, from happy to heavy with sadness. I just can’t help it. 

As a senior, there were so many things I was excited to do one more time. I was going to do them right this time around, and I was going to do them better than I have in the past. I was going to watch the rivalry football game and cheer for that trophy to come back to my school from our competitor at Thornton High School. I was going to help build the giant letter “N” that we set on fire at our homecoming game, and be there as it burned. 

I was going to go to homecoming for one final time with a group of friends who gave me the purest form of confidence. I was going to perfect a performance to give at the Colorado Thespian Convention, room in Denver with one of my best friends and audition for a great number of colleges at that same event. 

And now, I will do none of that. There will be replacements, but there will not be equivalents. 

I am putting all of the effort I can into being okay with this, but it is not easy, and I assume my fellow seniors are all feeling the same pang of loss as they think of the year we could have, and should have, had. 

School itself is fine, but academics are not everything. The events that get us excited to be part of a school community are so essential to making high school fun and engaging. Those traditions make the difficult nights studying, the long days of finals and the busy weeks of activities worth the time. We get to be kids and be loud, over-enthusiastic and joyful. 

Now, we sit at our computers every day and do our work, and we are alone. We are never child-like, never loud, never quite joyful. In a way this is the seniors’ final year of some semblance of childhood, before we are considered adults and expected to find our own fun in the world. But this year, there is very little fun to be found. 

I don’t want to leave it there, however, because I am of strong belief that things will continue to improve, just like they have even in our first week. We will get more comfortable on Zoom calls, we will find ways to participate in joint projects as a school and we will get better at calling our friends when we need someone to talk to. We will start having club meetings and start to feel connected to others again. This is far from the death of all things. 

I, for one, have enjoyed having time to brew coffee between classes, the making of my own lunch rather than eating school food, and the comfort of my own space that I know so well. 

My friends Aiden and Leslie like that they are allowed to leave their cameras off on calls and they don't feel the pressure of interacting with people, and Rowan likes that he has free time between classes when he finishes early. Several of my friends like that we can still chat with each other by using social media so we aren’t so totally alone. 

Things are not always easy, and they are far from perfect, but we are learning to appreciate what we can. This can be so strengthening to us as global citizens and collaborators if we focus on what we can do, rather than what we can’t. 

There is no doubting that this is depressing for many of us, but it is not the end of the world either. 

8/28/20 blog

First days of school have always had a sort of nostalgic bliss for me. There was something about the air all of those first days. 

I would walk to the bus in those early years breathing crisp and cool breaths and have a feeling of calm satisfaction. As I got older those first days found new anxieties as I went to new schools and joined more difficult classes, but still the first day feeling stuck around. I had my last first day of school this week, and there was a very light hint of that feeling, like the flavor of tangerine in a La Croix where there had once been orange soda. 

I have been looking forward to my first day for the last few weeks. I can’t help it because of the memories associated with starting school, as well as the hope for an interesting new experience with being online. It seems like over the summer I completely forgot how difficult remote learning was back in the spring. 

I forgot about the days spent lying on the floor of my room trying to motivate myself, I forgot about the heavy burden of isolation, I forgot about how much it really isn’t like being in school at all. 

The first day was tough. I found myself feeling upset and frustrated all the way from 8:43 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. By the end I was very burned out. 

I showed up to every Zoom, did every “Getting to Know You” assignment and signed off early from each class. Then I was left with 20 minutes or so to stir around my house uncomfortably until I could log into my next class video call. 

It was difficult for me to come to terms with because I knew that on a regular day at school, I would have spent those extra minutes chatting with my classmates and joking around, not contemplating what exactly could be done within 20 minutes in my own house. 

It is a challenge to have that time away from my screen just to have to come back to another call and another assignment. As the days go on and we settle in, I am sure the classwork will become more time-consuming, and in an odd way, this seems like a good thing to me right now. 

I need to be able to work up until I switch classes, or the weight of being alone gets very tiresome. 

I mentioned Freshman Orientations last week and want to provide an update about how those went. In a digital format rather than in-person, with upperclassmen leading as we normally would, the process was… well, a little painful. 

That first interaction as a freshman is always incredibly nerve-wracking for the new students, but normally they come out of their shells throughout the day and become more comfortable. Over a Zoom call, and with only an hour at our disposal, this sort of development just wasn’t possible. The freshmen sat there blankly and often confused, refusing to show their faces or speak up for the activities we did. 

I don’t blame them in the least, as disappointing as the experience was for me and the other Link leaders. Nothing about it was normal, and while it was intended to be fun, the same effect of a normal orientation was certainly not achieved. 

I think it’s okay. 

We had to try something, and in the end at least we provided an initial feeling of a new beginning for the freshmen to launch from. 

Luckily, we also did two days of in-person rotations with small groups and saw a majority of the freshmen on one of those two days. I was there for all of the groups because I am one of four Head Norse, a leadership position filled by seniors who are deeply involved in the high school community and school spirit. 

We mainly talked at the new students rather than working with them, but it felt like a better send-off for remote learning than a Zoom call could ever be. There is something so deeply necessary about seeing other people face-to-face and something so dangerous about being totally isolated and digital. 

I am deeply sad not to be at my school building today, which I have grown to love so much and know so well. However, I am reminding myself right now and will continue to remind myself that this is only temporary, and I am capable of getting through difficult things. 

I ate lunch with my friend group over Zoom today, and I finished all of my work. 

Those are small victories which I can call my own, and which can help me keep going. I am worried for my peers at this time, because I know that if I am struggling, they likely are too. It is so human to dislike change, but also what forces us to grow again and again. It is up to us to give ourselves, our teachers and our peers grace in this time, to acknowledge that we are facing a common challenge, and to keep our trust in the fact that we will come out the other side of this stronger. 

8/21/20 blog

One of the greater concerns for seniors everywhere this year is our participation in the traditions we have been looking forward to for four years. This week, I had my first run in with that as I went to a Senior Sunrise with five students total, all wearing masks and keeping our distance. Senior Sunrise is a symbolic gathering of the graduating class to watch the sunrise together, representing the sun rising on their final year of high school. Normally we all gather together, but this year we are encouraging digital involvement as a school. No doubt, there is some disappointment in this and there are groups of students attempting to form a Senior Sunrise with the entire class. Sadly, I won’t be participating in one of these - even outdoors, it doesn’t feel safe to me. I know there are many others who feel that way too, who won’t be taking part, but it is my hope they send in a photo of themselves doing it individually so we can see our class united in some way.

We all must take a moment and remember that despite the weirdness, this is still our year, our 2021 graduation just over the horizon. In the small group I watched the sunrise with, I told everyone not to forget to take it all in. One more year living at home, one more year in comfort at our highschool. This year won’t be easy, but it is still ours to cherish and celebrate however we can, starting with the rising of the sun.

This week in the world of high school we had our training for running freshmen orientation. I am part of the Link Crew, which is a group of upperclassmen who normally run in-person events with groups of freshmen on their orientation day. This year we are holding a digital orientation, so we are also doing our training digitally as well. We play through all of the games that the freshmen will play too, and this year we are also learning how to troubleshoot on Zoom. 

I am excited to see what the day will hold for our freshmen. It is such an important event in terms of welcoming a new class of students and showing them the ropes, so it is a shame we can’t engage with the “freshies” as we normally would, but I have faith it will still be a beneficial experience to these new kids. I can’t wait to meet them and give them advice for their high school years. I still remember how my Link Leaders influenced me and encouraged me to be participatory in my school, which has no doubt led me to where I am today.

In some ways, I am grateful this is happening my senior year. So many of my friends are heading to college, and that transition is difficult as is, let alone in a pandemic. Plus, I imagine freshmen in high school are having the same fears about entering a new school that I did, plus the fears of running their school lives online and feeling isolated. I am beyond thankful that I am not in the midst of such huge change in my life as I move into this digital school year, even as I lose out on so many senior year traditions. Having to move out of my home at this time would be a great challenge to myself and my family. I am glad I have this piece of normalcy in where I live and go to school.

If you have been following the information the schools are releasing about our education this fall, you may already know that we are going to have a synchronous learning model. This means that I will be sitting at my Chromebook from 8am until 3:30pm every day, signing in to each class, meeting with teachers in their allotted times and engaging with their classwork. I assume for high school students this will be most helpful in increasing attendance and learning, and actually allowing our teachers to teach us once more. I know, what a radical idea! 

I am actually quite excited at the prospect of seeing my teachers whose classes I have been looking forward to, even if just over a digital meeting space like Zoom. I am not super thrilled about being at a computer screen for the entire school day, but I know that my teachers will do their best to be creative and keep us interested in what we are doing. Teachers really do care so deeply about their students, and I know from those teachers I have formed a real connection with in the past few years that they really miss us. I am (perhaps nerdily) happy to be getting back to the learning and see what this novel year has in store.

This week, I tie dyed some plain white masks with my friend Emi and attended a few digital college information sessions. Times are strange, but it is our duty to ourselves right now to do our best to stay afloat, sane and at the very best, content. Starting school is going to change a lot for me. It feels in some ways like we are going to continue our break, but synchronous learning in some ways forces me to let go of that and get settled once more into a routine. We must adjust our expectations on how everything will look this year and get happy about the little things along the way. Next week is a busy one for me - from digital freshmen orientation to two days of in-person small group orientations to my first day at online school - we’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out!

It is funny to me now as I think of all those wild depictions of senior years seen in popular media. So many screenwriters, authors and musician create an image of late nights out on the town with friends, young loves and rejections, fears of the undecided future in regards to college and close companions moving to separate regions of the country. 

These are all classic ideas we call to mind, never the isolating pandemic we find ourselves in the middle of now.

Quite frankly, this is probably because it would not make for the most interesting tale. I mean, the whole thing is rather low-stakes when one stays inside and wears a mask when they venture out. Low-stakes does not make for a bestseller; any author or publisher could tell you so. There are no undead walkers, no coming meteors to destroy our home, no aliens we must conquer before we ourselves are defeated. And yet, we find ourselves caught in this peculiar situation of change and unrest. 

The school system has been caught in one place for quite a long time. The structure of a school-day, defined by rules of attention to be followed and desks in rows, was a creation of the industrial era. As we created strict work environments for factory laborers to follow, we set those in motion for young students as well. Now, quite suddenly, we are being forced to reinvent this system we have been running on so comfortably. We made a great shift with little to no preparation and expectation of the event, at least to the common American and citizen of the earth, so it is of course historical and strange.

It is very interesting to think about how every student in spring left school one day not knowing it was their last day in that building for half a year or perhaps longer. I left that odd final day thinking I’d maybe be out of school for one week, no more. I had heard very recently that CHSAA had cancelled the track season, meaning my first meet planned for that weekend was suddenly not going to happen. The first week of pole-vault practice had been without purpose. I grabbed my Calculus and U.S. history binders from my locker on my way out -- the ones I knew I couldn’t do without -- and sat in the line of cars to leave the parking lot for the final time of my junior year.

And so the months of isolation began. No one really knew anything when this all began, so I can’t blame myself for thinking I’d be gone but a week. I am only grateful I had the foresight to prepare and pick up my school books. I didn’t get my remaining possessions from my locker until over a month later, and I never said “Have a good summer!” to any of my close friends or the seniors I knew were soon to graduate. There are some seniors I have a feeling I will never see again.

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As I prepare myself for the realities that approach, I am filled with questions and so few answers. I know that I will be learning remotely until almost the end of September, at the very least. I know that school will be more structured, too; a teacher told me recently that in the spring we were on “survival mode,” the teachers and administration did the very best they could to continue educating us.

Now after having a few months to prepare, our schools will expect more of us than they did the first time around. We will have times to meet with teachers online, stricter expectations related to attendance and likely more rigorous coursework than we did in the spring, but even some of this is conjecture. We know very little as of yet, and I am anxious to know more. Will I be learning from the teachers whose classes I have looked forward to for years, or will it be more generally arranged? Will I be required to sign on at 9 a.m, and log out at 3 p.m.? Will I have a fall play or any sort of those regular pathways for self expression? 

The only thing I remind myself of is that some things will be better than they were before. For instance, I spent nearly three months with no in-person contact except my brother and parents. Now, I have a small group of friends whom I see outdoors, who are attending to the same restrictions as me. I will not be so totally lonely and isolated as I was in the spring, because I have these reliable masked faces to meet at parks or on porches. I do fear what we will do when it gets very cold if the danger continues, but for the time being I have some community, and that is of great relief to me. The child I have spent the summer nannying refers to us as a “quaran-team”, a sweet way to look at these odd groups in strange days. 

I am hopeful, while also having the intuition that there will be many disappointments in the year to come. We all must make sacrifices: countless people have lost their jobs, others their lives, others their loved ones. I am losing my expectations for a great senior year to the reality of being alive amid a pandemic, and this is truthfully and very plainly not the worst loss to be dealing with. Still, I am sad and desperate for answers. My hope is to return to school at some point, as I know many other students are wanting as well, and yet we all must wait like young Jane Eyre in the dark, seeing ghosts where there is only fear and wonder. 

Today, I listen to “Heavy” by Birdtalker, one of the songs I added to a sort of Time Capsule playlist to help me remember this odd time, and I remind myself to “leave what’s heavy behind,” to put away fear and to look around at this bizarre life with strength. To live in the moment and find out what I may as the information is released brings me greater calm than all of the speculation in the world may do. Even with all of the discomfort, I am grateful to be having such a novel experience as seeing the reshaping of the school system and working with my teachers to make it effective for myself. 

I know the weeks to come will be a learning curve for all of us, but I am glad to be a part of it.

8/14/20 blog

It is funny to me now as I think of all those wild depictions of senior years seen in popular media. So many screen-writers, authors, and musicians, even, create an image of late nights out on the town with friends, young loves and rejections, fears of the undecided future in regards to college and close companions moving to separate regions of the country. These are all classic ideas we call to mind, never the isolating pandemic we find ourselves in the middle of now.

Quite frankly, this is probably because it would not make for the most interesting tale. I mean, the whole thing is rather low-stakes when one stays inside and wears a mask when they venture out. 

Low-stakes does not make for a best-seller, any author or publisher could tell you so. There are no undead walkers, no coming meteors to destroy our home, no aliens we must conquer before we ourselves are defeated. And yet, we find ourselves caught in this peculiar situation of change and unrest. 

The school system has been caught in one place for quite a long time. The structure of a school-day, defined by rules of attention to be followed and desks in rows, was a creation of the industrial era. As we created strict work environments for factory laborers to follow, we set those in motion for young students, as well. 

Now, quite suddenly, we are being forced to reinvent this system we have been running on so comfortably. We made a great shift with little to no preparation and expectation of the event, at least to the common American and citizen of the Earth, so it is of course historical and strange.

It is very interesting to think about how every student in spring left school one day not knowing it was their last day in that building for half a year or perhaps longer. I left that odd final day thinking I’d maybe be out of school for one week, no more. 

I had heard very recently that CHSAA had cancelled the track season, meaning my first meet planned for that weekend was suddenly not going to happen. The first week of pole-vault practice had been without purpose. I grabbed my Calculus and U.S. history binders from my locker on my way out -- the ones I knew I couldn’t do without -- and sat in the line of cars to leave the parking lot for the final time of my junior year.

And so the months of isolation began. No one really knew anything when this all began, so I can’t blame myself for thinking I’d be gone but a week; I am only grateful I had the foresight to prepare and pick up my school books. I didn’t get my remaining possessions from my locker until over a month later, and I never said “Have a good summer!” to any of my close friends or the seniors I knew were soon to graduate. There are some seniors I have a feeling I will never see again.

 As I prepare myself for the realities that approach, I am filled with questions and so few answers. I know that I will be learning remotely until almost the end of September, at the very least. I know that school will be more structured, too; a teacher told me recently that in the spring we were on “survival mode,” the teachers and administration did the very best they could to continue educating us. Now after having a few months to prepare, our schools will expect more of us than they did the first time around. 

We will have times to meet with teachers online, stricter expectations related to attendance, and likely more rigorous coursework than we did in the spring, but even some of this is conjecture. We know very little as of yet, and I am anxious to know more. Will I be learning from the teachers whose classes I have looked forward to for years, or will it be more generally arranged? Will I be required to sign on at 9 a.m., and log out at 3 p.m.? Will I have a fall play or any sort of those regular pathways for self expression? 

The only thing I remind myself of is that some things will be better than they were before. For instance, I spent nearly three months with no in-person contact except my brother and parents. Now, I have a small group of friends whom I see outdoors, who are attending to the same restrictions as me. I will not be so totally lonely and isolated as I was in the spring, because I have these reliable masked faces to meet at parks or on porches. I do fear what we will do when it gets very cold if the danger continues, but for the time being I have some community, and that is of great relief to me. The child I have spent the summer nannying refers to us as a “quaran-team”, a sweet way to look at these odd groups in strange days. 

I am hopeful while also having the intuition that there will be many disappointments in the year to come. We all must make sacrifices; countless people have lost their jobs, others their lives, others their loved ones. I am losing my expectations for a great senior year to the reality of being alive amidst a pandemic, and this is truthfully and very plainly not the worst loss to be dealing with. Still, I am sad and desperate for answers. My hope is to return to school at some point, as I know many other students are wanting as well, and yet we all must wait like young Jane Eyre in the dark, seeing ghosts where there is only fear and wonder. 

Today, I listen to “Heavy” by Birdtalker, one of the songs I added to a sort of Time Capsule playlist to help me remember this odd time, and I remind myself to “leave what’s heavy behind,” to put away fear and to look around at this bizarre life with strength. To live in the moment and find out what I may as the information is released brings me greater calm than all of the speculation in the world may do. Even with all of the discomfort, I am grateful to be having such a novel experience as seeing the reshaping of the school system and working with my teachers to make it effective for myself. I know the weeks to come will be a learning curve for all of us, but I am glad to be a part of it. 

Margot Swetich is a rising senior at Northglenn High School. She is an involved member of her high school community, including being Drama Club President as well as one of four “Head Norse," a position at her school based on leadership and school spirit. She has been in the Adams 12 school district her whole life, and is currently in the processing of applying for college.

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