In Their Words: Perspective and the Pandemic

By Selby, Billie | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), April 28, 2020 | Go to article overview

In Their Words: Perspective and the Pandemic


Selby, Billie, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


BY Billie Selby

Billie.selby@linn-nenwsletter.com

On March 15th, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds recommended that Iowa schools close for an indeterminate amount of time in order to help slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Few knew at that time that the Class of 2020 had spent their last time physically attending high school. On April 17th, the Governor informed the state that schools would not be reopening for the year and that spring sports had been canceled. Instead of joining their classmates in brick and mortar buildings, they would be finishing out this pivotal year online instead.

"I would have never imagined that it would go this far to shut down most of our economy, not just schools. If you asked me when the coronavirus in China first made headlines, I would have never guessed that everything would have been shut down worldwide just a few months later." –Megan Sherman, Center Point-Urbana

Seniors in the Class of 2020 learned a harsh lesson that is typically learned later in life: the future is not promised and that "last times" can be upon us and gone before we realize. The young are often stereotyped as believing that they are invincible, that they only care about the now and the future be damned. What became abundantly clear when we reached out to seniors from area schools is that this perception is incorrect.

To a person, the seniors that submitted responses for this article focused not simply on the things that they had been shorted, but also their hope for the future and how they feel they can contribute to a better today. Instead of self-pity, the thing that jumps out are how hard these kids work, be it in a virtual classroom or on a job site.

"I'm a nurse and considered an essential worker. I received my card to provide as proof to anyone it may concern that I'm acceptable to be driving on the roads. I've picked up many doubles and overnight shifts to make sure I can do my part to help." –Emily Armstrong, Alburnett

"I think it's a strange feeling to know that we are living in a time of history that will be talked about for many years to come. But knowing that also makes what we do right now feel like it has an especially high value, and that is a special kind of motivator for people." -Lauren Dufoe, Center Point-Urbana

Online education and college plans are a source of strength for the students. Iowa State, UNI and Kirkwood are all future destinations for the group. Several of the students are taking Kirkwood classes online in addition to their high school class lode. They are future scientists, broadcasters, farmers, and teachers.

"I have been staying up to date with all of my classes with some being online through Kirkwood and some through my high school. My teachers have been giving me the opportunity to continue my learning through this weird time and I plan to continue using the tools that they are providing." -Austin Miller, North Linn

While the students are all looking to the future to hold on to a sense of normalcy, an unusual present is not without its challenges and disappointments.

"I love soccer - it's one of the best things that has happened to me in the last couple years. I didn't get a lot of playing time for most of high school, but after junior season, I worked my butt off to get better. And it paid off. I was made head captain of the team. I was so excited for this season. It would be an understatement if I told you I was devastated about the soccer season getting cancelled" -Rachel Dahlem, Alburnett

"I really miss my friends. I have only been at North Linn since January of last year, but It feels like they are my family. I am trying to stay optimistic because I know they will still be there after this is all over. It's just hard to wait." -Jacob Kurt, North Linn

Much like the rest of the country, views on what needs to happen to return to normal sit along a broad spectrum, often along political lines. …

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