Warriors of Westmont: Pandemic Year in Review

By Isabella Brady

Nobody predicted toilet paper, hand sanitizer or yeast would be the hot selling items of 2020, yet here we are; COVID-19 has altered our expectations of how our 2020 and 2021 would unfold in nearly every conceivable way. As we come to a year of distance learning and quarantine, everyone has experienced a unique perspective, and as we haven’t seen our peers in person for a year, it is important to hear the voices of students here at Westmont. 

I sent out a survey, admittedly, I was curious if I would get responses. I wanted an article composed of the students’ voices, to allow everyone the chance to feel the emotional relief of being heard, after a year of computer screens and isolation. I was soon overwhelmed with the emotion of responses from over 200 Warriors of the student body at Westmont, all within mere days. Having read every response, I have been inspired by the strength and dedication of everyone throughout this year, despite the myriad of hardships faced. To everyone who shared their perspective, thank you, you are resilient, and you made this page possible. 

Pre-Covid I probably would have thought of Zumiez or Zumba when hearing “zoom,” but now I think of zoom calls. -Senior

11:59. The time every student began dreading during distance learning. However, nothing compares to the feeling of completing your assignment and seeing 11:58 in the corner of the laptop screen. Closing your eyes and beaming at the sweet relief of finishing said assignment with a minute to spare… only to open your eyes to a screen that says “LATE”. 11:59. 11:59 AM was the deadline.-Angelina Prospal (Senior)

Distance learning was a lot to get used to, but after the first couple of months, it became our normal and both students and teachers have learned to make the best of it. In my experience, teachers and staff have done everything in their power to keep education engaging, fun, and academic. Although it is a challenge being away from friends, teachers, and after school activities, we are getting by. -Senior

I’d like to talk about online school —I have very mixed feelings about it. For starters, I do like how there are large breaks as well as a free Wednesday. It makes stuff a lot less stressful. However, there are still a lot of downsides to online learning. For one, since there are less days, things are taught much quicker. My problem with this is not that it’s hard to keep up (though I’m pretty sure it is for some), but that it makes it hard to retain the information and actually learn. Also, online learning creates a multitude of new variables when it comes to being able to attend class. In addition to getting sick and family matters, there’s also internet and computer status you have to worry about, and it can get pretty stressful if you’re in a household with bad internet.

To be honest, I think that they should’ve just not had any school at all this year and have next year teach what would’ve been this year’s content (i.e. if you were a freshman last year, next year would be sophomore year instead of junior year if that makes sense). I simply don’t think students should have to worry about school during a pandemic and should just focus on their mental health. -Robert Bolival (Sophomore)

The biggest struggle of the pandemic has been dealing with mental health -Anonymous

The lockdown really gave me space to be me. I had the chance to step back from society’s opinion of me and question everything I’ve ever known. It turns out there was a lot I didn’t know about myself. I’ve made and lost friends. Cried and laughed then cried again. it’s been both the hardest and best year of my life.-Sophomore

Pretty unpleasant as a result of the lack of a classroom experience and all of the social aspects involved with such experience. -Collin Bradshaw (Sophomore)

Ever since school shut down, I found a way to balance my schedule regarding school and leisure time. I highly recommend taking breaks from school work as sometimes work can feel like a heavy burden. Find ways to spend some time daily with your family, because it is important for you all to be together during these times. Also, find some time to do things you like to do. Go have some fun. I myself haven’t really enjoyed online school since I’m not able to physically interact with my friends and teachers. For life outside of school, I hardly go out to see friends and I just mainly stay at home with my parents. I haven’t been able to play any soccer games for a year, but I still go to practice, so I always look forward to practicing with my teammates. What concerns me the most is that I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my family in Poland again. I wasn’t able to see them last summer, so I just hope that I can see them sooner than later. -Peter Duncan (Junior)

“COVID has definitely made this year pretty interesting. I love having a routine to my daily life.. going to school, seeing people you usually wouldn’t get to see outside of school, going home and then working out and enjoying some time with friends. Even though that routine was everyday I liked it a lot and it made me feel comfortable and content. But with this past year everything changed and at first it really bummed me out and I felt angry. I was always so excited to picture my senior year and I had so many expectations for it; I even bought a non returnable prom dress that put a dent in my bank account for prom (RIP). But this year has taught me a lesson that I am so thankful for and it’s that things usually don’t go the way you planned them and for me that’s something I struggle with. I have learned to go more with the flow and when something unexpected happens instead of flipping out or being worried sick with how this is going to affect me I just think about how I can overcome it or what I can learn from it. life is going to be filled with so many things that are going to challenge you and the quicker you can see that and learn that these obstacles are actually going to make you stronger and more confident then you are already on a great start to life. Don’t get me wrong though I still have some bad days where I feel upset or unhappy but those make me even more grateful for my good days. And if I had to give out tips for having a more happy life that have helped me mine would be.. go on hike and listen to music, draw something even If they are just scribbles, play with your dog (if you don’t have a dog buy a fish they are actually pretty interesting to look at!), read up on your horoscope, make a new playlist for your current mood, and write down how you feel or what you did that day even if you didn’t do much. We get one life so it’s important to do things that feel good and make you happy!! -Senior

No motivation or feeling of purpose when it came to school work. -Senior

Overall my experience was enjoyable because of the environment throughout school. -Senior

I feel like Westmont handled this situation pretty well with the help of technology; the free lunches helped a lot of people that would have struggled with the change. The teachers handled the online schooling pretty well and they were understanding of the technology flaws. -Alondra Rodriguez (Senior)

It has been boring. -Pedro Basulto (Senior)

COVID-19 caused many difficulties for me but more importantly affected my education. You spend about 12 or more years going to school then suddenly shifts to online learning which isn’t the same from being physically there with your friends and teachers. It’s hard turning your home into a learning environment -Senior

The start of the school year seemed like a huge letdown, though it might still be, however there are upsides to staying home and doing distance learning. I can basically wear what I want as long as it fits the guidelines and now I don’t have to talk to people I don’t know. Some people who like to be loud find it hard to express themselves but if you are an introvert like me, this is paradise! -Senior

“At first, I did not like it and I am sure I was not the only one, but days passed and passed and I started to realize that one thing or another I have to get used to this environment, so I somewhat did. School became harder and harder to where I felt like I could not always have the help from my teachers whether if I go to tutorials or not it will never be the same as in person where they will teach me step-by-step. Till this day, I would love to go back to school, but what is the point if we only have 3 months left, every student might of lost their opportunities to go to Prom, Homecoming, school events, etc, but greater things happen to those who wait and wish nothing but the best. I would not lie it was hard at first to get use to this distance learning, but now I got the hang of it and would not mind if we go back and stay the same as we are right now. Some tips I could give out is that some teachers should not pure pressure their students because they do not know what they are going through and it is up to the student to do their work or not. But, in this case I would say that although many students have many things going on with their life and so do teachers to give us a break here and there and understand where everyone is coming from because if teachers were to come closer to their students they would as teachers understand their own students and what they are going through. -Silvia Guardado (Senior)

It has been like living in a glass box. I can’t go out and interact with the world like I have been able for all of my life excluding these past 11 months. I haven’t touched someone not blood related in months. So while I am able to go out into the world it still feels like I am caged and separate from it in all meaningful ways. It is crushing to know that the last time I was out with friends was during the summer of 2020. When I look into the future all I can see is more at home schooling draining away all notions of a rewarding Senior year and reminding me of the hours on top of hours of school work still yet to be given. This year will be memorable there is no doubt of that but it will not be looked back fondly on nor will be the year I was finally able to relax. This year was and will be filled with stress in amounts I have never had to experience before on top of the “normal” senior stresses of college acceptance and maintaining a baseline grade. No this year I was stressed out just trying to find if we did have homework assigned that class day, stressed if I was unable to find homework as that meant I was not looking in the right tabs or the teacher did not give homework. If I could not find the assignment and there was something due the next class then I would get marked down and my grade would dip. If there was no homework then I would still stress about the possibility of an assignment being due only learning of the fact in the next class. My senior year in High School was and probably will be the most horrific abomination of an already painful and lonely year I would never wish upon my most hated enemy. I simply wish for it to be over so I can move on and hopefully forget about this traumatic experience that has found its way into my home. -Miranda Holden (Senior)

“Get a therapist, it’s very helpful.” -Senior

Although i miss in person learning, adapting to distance learning has been a learning curve. I often tend to forget more in distance learning, but also not having very talkative classmates has been very awkward.” -Senior

This year has been exhausting. Replying to emails, texts, and filling out assignments that feel like busy work has never been more challenging. As I slowly click to open the next mundane zoom, I reminisce about all of the memories that I should have made this year, about all of the people that I will probably never see again after graduation. But then I realize that others have so much more on their shoulders and that we are going to be okay. Woohoo!-Cassie Kim (Senior)

Despite the challenging year that all of us experienced, I have tried to find a silver lining of the pandemic, and feel grateful for every day. I’ve been able to find more time to pick up new hobbies, which I never had time for during the busy school year! -Senior

I find I have much more time to go outside and exercise but less motivation to do so. So my mom keeps taking me out hiking, which is fun half the time because I get to choose where we go. We went to Castle Rock and I must have spent at least an hour climbing around. -Senior

Throughout the course of the year spent in quarantine, I’ve learned how to observe more. I’ve observed the change of seasons more closely than ever before, and learned to appreciate what nature brings every month. I’ve observed my own tendencies when left alone, and had time to self-reflect. I’ve observed that overall, while I have spent the last year physically apart from many, I’ve grown closer to a lot of people through shared challenges and improved communication. -Makenna Adams (Senior)

I really evaluated the friendships I had in my life when social distancing and stay-at-home learning began, and I clung strongly to the closest, most supporting ones and grew naturally more distant from the weaker ones. In the end, I found myself in the middle of a slightly smaller yet extraordinary web of social support from the people I have come to care for the most. -Senior

When I look back on the past year not much stands out, it just was an overall awful experience, and I miss seeing some people in person. Although, distance learning has made talking to some other people more bearable as pretending to pay attention to some people is not only a lot easier, but also overall less draining. I guess my overall problem with distance learning is how I feel it has ruined my senior year, and most days I wake up, take classes, and then head right back to bed.-Senior

Although I would say that I adapted to online learning pretty well, the part of school I miss the most are the small interactions I had throughout the day with my classmates.  I miss the little conversations I had with my table mates and breakout rooms do not fill that hole in my heart.-Faith Lucas (Senior)

This year has been one of the most emotionally draining, challenging school years I’ve had thus far. Distance learning has created a less than desirable learning environment in which my focus is pretty much nonexistent and my grades are barely passing. Truthfully speaking,  there is no amount of money you could pay me in order to repeat this school year and I will be the happiest person on earth once it finally ends in a couple months. That being said I am also extremely terrified to leave high school and enter the real world but what can be done, I am but a humble merchant with an abundance of goods to offer.-Senior

One of the most long-lasting repercussions of the pandemic is the realization of how suddenly things can change. In February of last year, I had picked out my prom dress and had just returned from a few college tours in Seattle. Things looked like they couldn’t get any better, and then, everything was flipped on its head. In February of this year, I sat in my room and went to online school, living the same day over and over again. The highlight of my months is going to the grocery store. I’m counting down the days until graduation, and wishing on every star, dandelion, and eyelash that I get to graduate in person, with the people I started my high school journey with, something that a year ago, I thought was a given. One year, and suddenly, nothing is the same, and nothing in life is guaranteed. I think I will look back on this time in my life with sorrow, not only for myself, but for the people who lost their family members, their homes, and/or their jobs to this virus in the blink of an eye. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones, but it’s something that’s easy to forget when so much of my world has crumbled. -Olivia Merrick (Senior)

Online learning has been pretty nice, but I miss going to school and talking with everyone. As a senior, it’s a little sad how we’re spending our last year of high school, but compared to the deadliness of the virus and the negative impact it’s had on other people’s lives, it seems like a minor issue. I am glad to be able to hang out with my close friends from time to time while being socially distanced. During quarantine, I’ve gotten a lot more sleep, learned to do new things such as making an omelet and doing a handstand, gone to work, bing-watched a lot of shows, spent time with my family, started running, danced, and I finally got my license. -Senior

I’m fortunate that my family’s financial situation was not drastically affected during the pandemic. However I did lose a few opportunities (I was going to attend a business program at a nearby college, my scholarship to a statewide leadership conference was moved onto an online platform, and my SAT was cancelled 4 times). I’m glad I was given both the financial and emotional support to continue looking for opportunities and make the best of the situation we were all in. -Anonymous

Although I have lost the experience of my high school senior year, I need to remember to stay humble. I never got the virus nor do I know someone who has passed away from COVID, so in various ways I am more lucky than I realize. I have been working on self growth with all this time alone, which I feel has propelled my mindset forward in more ways than a normal year would have. Not going to school means I only get to see my family and friends, not people I don’t like. It is nice having more power over what can happen in your life, rather than just abiding by society’s norms: eat, work, sleep, repeat, since society is not normal right now. All this time alone did spike my anxiety in the beginning of quarantine, and I needed an outlet to release all my energy. I began practicing meditation and I was drawn to spirituality, leading to my effective attempts at staying in the present and valuing my own existence more than I would have before. Sometimes I do hit a wall and wish we were having prom and rallies, but again, I need to remember that we are not in school in order to benefit people’s health. I have become more confident in myself and I have consistently remained optimistic about the events of the past year. I am also slowly realizing the rest of my life is going to be impacted by the events of this pandemic. I have the feeling sanitization and health guidelines will be updated and improved throughout the country; the world will not be the exact same as before once the virus is eradicated since we now know what can happen if another pandemic is not prevented. I am excited to see how the world changes after this health crisis “wake up call” subsides. -Klana Ghahary (Senior)

Being in quarantine has been hard, but in order to keep in touch with my friends I try to facetime them a lot and talk to them as much as possible. Another thing I’ve done to try and keep myself busy is pick up new hobbies like baking a lot.-Lauren Jones (Senior)

I and my family have been pretty lucky to have not been medically affected by COVID as of late. Yet, like others, we had to miss out on seeing family and friends over the holidays. I felt bad for my dad because he loves to entertain our family on Christmas Eve, and really missed not seeing everyone. Since COVID, his work has increased and he rarely gets to leave the house. But through it all, he still finds time to binge watch shows with me or make my day with little gifts. I guess if I had one tip to share it would be we all need to find something we look forward to in the day, like I do with my dad, even if it was the same as the last. -Senior

My highest and lowest points have been in these last 11 months of Covid, but that is just my experience. Our experiences with the pandemic have varied so much, especially because we are experiencing most things separated and distanced. While I’ve enjoyed coming up with creative ways to meet my friends and fashion forward masks, the reality of covid still creeps in. Sitting down to write my final theatre bio for the online musical was difficult. Realizing and accepting the fact that my senior year doesn’t and won’t look like those of the past is a hard pill to swallow. -Hanna Chadwell (Senior)

I used to think of myself as 100% an introvert, but during quarantine, I have grown to miss both in-person school and talking to people outside of my family. It’s been a lonely year, and I was fully unprepared. I got a few new hobbies, and that has helped, but mainly I recommend just keeping in touch with friends.-Xavier Nason (Senior)

Distance learning was a lot to get used to, but after the first couple of months, it became normal and both students and teachers have learned to make the best of it. In my experience, teachers and staff have done everything in their power to keep education engaging, fun, and academic. Although it is a challenge being away from friends, teachers, and after school activities, we are getting by. -Senior

It has been a very difficult year due to the pandemic. I have not had good experiences that some of my teachers do not help and give a lot of homework. I think it is important to know how the students feel -Mario Rodriguez (Senior)

Tip: Always keep a healthy routine even when you aren’t going outside.-Austin Lin (Senior)

During this past year, I got to spend more time with my family, which is awesome since I’m heading off to college this fall. -Sherry Zhang (Senior)

How does Darth Vader like his toast?

A little on the dark side

What is Michael Jordan’s favorite toast spread?

Space Jam -Ricky Thompson (Senior)

At first, quarantine didn’t affect me. Now, however, I notice these quiet tips of anger in the outskirts of my mind. I hadn’t realized it before, but now I do. I, and everyone else in the world, have been collectively robbed of something crucial, something immensely important: the future of another life we’ll never see. I’ll never know how 2020 would’ve finished off; I’ll never know who I would’ve met; I’ll never know what type of person I would’ve become. But, it doesn’t matter–now does it? There have been many trends in my life that surely never would have started and too many experiences to count. Perhaps, the most important insight I gained is from a quote from the great, Asian philosopher Confucius: “We have two lives, and the second [life] begins when we realize we only have one”. -Joshua Chand (Senior)

Not being able to see my peers in-person and get emotional support from my school community especially during college application season were especially difficult for me. As a senior, I would like to advise future seniors to reach out to your friends and teachers and ask for help! Meet your friends at the park with masks and visit your teachers during study hall to have constant social interactions. We’re all in this together and going through the same feelings and difficulties 🙂-Senior

The past year has been tough, but I’m doing okay thanks to the support of my friends, especially the community at The Shield ❤️❤️❤️-Anna Hanuska (Senior)

I grew closer with my family this year as I spent more time with them.  Although this year isn’t the senior year everyone imagined, I’m learning that celebrating my last year of high school a different way shouldn’t be considered disappointing, but a unique experience that can still be fun if I make the most of it. -Senior

This year has been one for the books. Seriously. If you told me half of the occurrences this year last March 13th, when we all thought it was just an extended spring break, I would not have believed you. During these past months I have improved my photography, took up and then dropped countless hobbies, and reconnected with old friends. COVID has caused numerous changes in my family, friend dynamics, and personality. The loss of loved ones severely impacted my perspective on the year, life, and the future ahead. Combined with many life lessons, the time which quarantine has given me for self-reflection and growth has been beneficial. Although this year was a rollercoaster, I will use the lessons and experiences in my future with the memory of my loved one with me. -Senior

Being a senior, our entire class has missed out on countless experiences that we have looked forward to throughout all our years in school. I know in the grand scheme of life, high school prom, football games, and graduation don’t seem very important, especially considering the lives that have been lost in the past year. However, these are the experiences we should remember for the rest of our lives and it’s sad to know that we will never be able to make up for the time and memories we missed out on. I just hope that we can have a prom with masks on and a graduation on the football field. The seniors deserve this closure and these experiences to move on from high school. Many schools have gone back to in-person learning, so I truly think that with masks, we should be able to have these events in person. After an entire year of isolation, difficulty seeing friends, and online learning, we need something to look forward to. -Senior

One of the most difficult parts of quarantine for me has been finding motivation – to do schoolwork, stay active, and communicate with others. Some days I don’t accomplish very much and feel disappointed, but I remind myself that it’s okay to have restful days. Spending time with friends socially distanced and just chatting has really helped me refocus and enjoy my last year of high school instead of spending all my time stressed about schoolwork (though I still dedicate a good amount of time to working). Some of my tips for other students struggling with motivation are to reach out to friends and interact safely (whether that’s just texting, having a video call, or meeting socially distanced with masks), try to create a prioritized task list, set aside some time for off-screen hobbies like cooking or drawing, and reflect on your goals each day so you can see what you’ve accomplished.-Megan Marshall (Senior)

Well this has been frustrating. I just moved to this state a couple months before Covid hit and by the time I felt comfortable talking to more people or acting like I was in a good mood all the time… there was literally nowhere to meet anybody my age, this means that I know a total of 0 people in this state who are not my family and while I love them they can be extremely overwhelming. I would just like someone my age to hang out with and not worry about the plethora of issues my family has. But besides that it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as my last 4 years so I’m okay, but my experience with classes has been fine besides the fact that my lack of work ethic became emphasized by the lack of anyone holding me accountable for missing work” -Senior

This pandemic sucked. -Luis Herrera (Senior)

Gonna keep this short and to the point. Quarantine has been full of ups and downs. I miss my family, friends, teachers, and teammates dearly. Obviously this is not at all how we envisioned our last year of high school. However, we should appreciate what we are able to do rather than dwell on the things we don’t have. I need to go back to zoom class now byeeee -Senior

It would make online learning less stressful to only give at least 1-2 assignments that are quick to complete because I’m busy everyday 24/7 with school, sports, work, and also keeping my dog busy as well. -Timothy Galvan (Senior)

My sister had a get together with her friends and one of them had covid. I didn’t really go out to see friends so I knew I didn’t have it, but I got it from my sister, so I was subjected to getting it too. So after like 2 or 3 weeks of being home I ended up having to isolate myself anyway for another 2 or so weeks because I got covid. Sucks.” -Senior

This year has been quite a struggle both physically and mentally. As a senior this year it’s been hard to know that I won’t have the senior year I envisioned since I was a child. No prom, senior homecoming, senior rallies, or a real graduation. It’s like a year of my life was ripped from me and it’s the one you spend all your years in middle and high school waiting for. I know that this is a pandemic but my mental health along with my peers’ mental health is also important and it feels like nobody had taken that into consideration regarding coming back to campus. I hope that we can all improve from these hard times and grow as individuals. -Senior

As a barista I have come across many people who refused to put on a mask. One situation was for sure a highlight thought. On a very busy Sunday a guy came in making a whole scene telling me that he doesn’t want to wear a mask nor does he want to leave the store. Not only is it so frustrating because it is not my choice but also I don’t have to give you my service if you aren’t able to do a simple task of putting on a mask. just wear your mask and understand that it’s not up to the workers whether or not we have the ability to let you come in with no mask.Nikta Khanbadr (Senior)

Although free time is enjoyable in moderation, the pandemic has given me nothing but time to mess up my sleep schedule so that I’m up all night and sleeping all day, and somehow managing to still procrastinate all my homework. Because online school is so easy, I usually put it off and when I do my work I don’t learn anything, so all this time I have not been productive whatsoever. Senior year wasted and ruined. -Senior

It was all extremely tough, I’ve gone through many losses and school was my one distraction. Having to stay home felt suffocating because I had no distractions, this also affected my school performance. Currently I’m still trying to get back up on my feet and simply graduate which seems like the most important thing at the moment. -Senior

I’ve had a lot of plans and goals that were ruined by covid, two of them being able to walk the stage and going to prom;(-Paris Allen (Senior)

This pandemic has been really hard on the world. We just crossed the horrible threshold of half a million deaths in America, but after a year I have become desensitized to these terrible losses. I cannot comprehend that insane loss of life without lots of grief, as well as anger at the people who contributed to these losses. I’ve endured a year of not seeing anyone other than my family, and this led to constant arguments with members of my family because my precautions were different than theirs. Nevertheless, the pandemic has been a blessing for me personally. I was miserable at in-person school and would have constant anxiety attacks. Staying at home allows me to focus on school and clubs without worrying about the social structure of high school or how lonely I am there. I am responsible for my own learning and of my own future now, without my anxiety getting in the way. I get to spend time with my parents who, before this, would be at work till 6pm. I am so lucky that my mom and grandparents are now fully vaccinated, it really feels like I let go of 50 pounds I’ve been dragging around. While I still do everything in my power to be safe, just knowing that the people I love are now more safe from the virus is such a relief. I know who I am now and I know what type of lifestyle I need to live to be happy (at least for now), and I am endlessly grateful for that opportunity. It’s just hard when that opportunity comes at the expense of such a t -Sophomore

I would just like to share my appreciation toward the teachers who have been working tirelessly to make this new form of learning effective and enjoyable for us. We understand that this experience has been unfavorable and difficult for not only us students, but also the hardworking, underappreciated teachers. On behalf of the student body, I thank each tremendous teacher who has been putting in the extra effort to teach fire lessons, despite enduring the hardships that have accompanied this unprecedented time. -Katelyn Yang (Seniors) 

I had a great time here. Met many great friends and created lots of memories together. -William Minjoe (Senior)

Amazing. Feels crazy I’m graduating this year. Time flies. -Carlos Aguilar (Senior)

My experience has been alright with learning at home. It is hard to ask personal questions sometimes or get into contact because lots of teachers don’t reply to emails or just for me when they explain something it’s harder because in person I find it easier to learn. One other thing is I get lots of headaches or internet problems still. Although I do like that, assignments are due the day but gives time till 11:59 to turn in which gives me the whole day and more time. I also like how we enter at 9 and how the schedule is. -Jasmin Carrasco (Sophomore)

Uhh I guess my experience has been mid, my mom got the virus but we stayed quarantined and were able to recover. Learning online is hard though, less time in classes in order to still learn the same amount of stuff and be able to know it for tests is stressful and complicated. -Jonny Guardado (Senior)

This year has been difficult for me because personally online school is harder for me. Being online doesn’t really motivate me to try because it feels like I’m not really learning anything. Also this school year hasn’t really been fun, we aren’t doing any events and we might not even get to walk the stage. -Senior

2020 was full of new experiences for me. I moved in August which was a bit tricky with covid. I also got a job at a coffee shop which I am super grateful for because I know times are tough for a lot of people right now. -Bria Kupras (Senior) 

COVID learning has not been learning, but rather getting assignments in before their due date. Lack of social interaction makes online learning a lot worse. However, some teachers did a good job with online teaching. -Senior

There’s a lot to do in my final stretch at Westmont, but dang, I just want to watch Naruto. -Senior

Online learning has most certainly been a struggle, but I have learned to deal with it. It’s sad because I say deal with it. I wish we were back in person, but we have to do what we have to do. I hope this will all be better in college, so I can go back to normal in person learning. -Andrew Oswald (Senior)

The pandemic has been a big struggle for me. I have been struggling with school the most because I rely on my classmates and teachers to help me through tough problems. Online school has taught me that I have been unconsciously depending on others to help me learn. Though I wish I could experience my senior year in person, it is good that teachers are changing up their teaching techniques and bending some rules to help their students. -Han Nguyen (Senior)

Covid sucks. I am Depressed. Get me out of High School. The only happiness in my life is food. -Senior

Experiencing a pandemic the last 2 years of high School was definitely something that pulled me down. Knowing that I’m not going to have a graduation like my brother and sister after looking forward to it for years was very upsetting. But through all of it, I found some positives. Since school is now online and has been for a while, I got the chance to go back to Germany and continue my senior year there with my family and friends. Having done an exchange year my junior year there and loving it, I figured I might as well use online school to my advantage and go back. Covid restrictions aren’t much better there but I’d say I’m pretty lucky to experience this and am very thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given even through such a stressful year. -Naomi Haug (Senior)

I’ve just been feeling so anxious. It’s hard to show up to class and I just feel so out of it all the time. So many changes happening all at once, but being at home allowed me to focus on my passions and I was finally able to release my own music. I’m just glad that in the midst of all the stress I was able to make the best out of it. -Justin Dang (Senior)

This year has been, both my favorite year and the absolutely worst. I got my closest friend in all my classes, something I never would have dreamed of the previous years. I called over google meets with them on a daily basis and we enjoyed each other’s company as we did homework. A lot of memorable moments have been made, but I can’t help but be saddened since I can’t have any physical interactions with my friends or loved one. It propagates a sense of loneliness even while texting with friends. 

I wish for everyone to try their best and the best advice I can give is to video call with your friends, seeing their faces can help your mental health and maybe help you get motivation.-Senior

We live with our grandparents so we haven’t been outside of the house at all. It’s been extremely hard and it’s been even harder to see people still partying outside with no safety precautions.-Junior

Personally, I’ve had a generally smooth experience with online/distance learning. All my teachers are incredibly helpful in trying to give us the best experience possible given the circumstances. The only thing I struggled with was the constant worries about technological issues occurring during timed tests or essays. -Joanna Sung (Junior)

Over quarantine I’ve started going by new pronouns and questioning my gender identity so that’s interesting. Thanks covid -Junior

During quarantine, I’ve been able to explore and grow in a lot of my interests such as music but since I’m constantly at home spending a lot of time by myself, a lot of intrusive thoughts or things I can regret come up which have been difficult. -Junior

Online learning is very difficult, I’ve been struggling without in person learning in subjects like Math, English, and Science. It’s hard for me to teach myself and that is what most of us are having to with such limited time in class online. I have a full house on my end of the zoom meetings from being the oldest of 4 siblings who love to scream their heads off. I want to go back to school. I know it’s not going to be the same so there is no telling if it could be worse or better than online learning. I have a lot of friends who don’t understand what we’re doing in class from either distractions at home or not being able to ask the questions needed. Its been a very difficult this year, adjusting to new changes, losing people we love, being away from some of our biggest comforts like friends, and not having a proper place to be “in school” both mentally and physically. -Aresena Equihua

Nothing much. Money has just been slow for my parents so i had to pick up a job -Jorge Rodriguez (Senior)

Everything closed down, people can’t see each other, mental diseases at an all time high, but we still have teachers assigning us assignment after assignment like we are robots. -Amanuel Abu (Senior)

I would say one of my biggest takeaways is keep making goals for yourself and aim towards them so you don’t lose that purpose and motivation. -Vivek Sunkam (Senior)

During this year of quarantine, I feel like I have missed out on the best year of my high school experience: senior year. After spending a whole year away from my friends taking SVCTE classes all of junior year, I was really looking forward to eating with my friends every day at lunch, attending more school events, and participating more in club activities around school. I wanted to get more involved in school during my last year, and to enjoy what little time I had left with my friends here at Westmont. Unfortunately, COVID came in to destroy all those plans and potential happy memories. From March 17 on out, we’ve been stuck indoors in a state of paranoia and worry. At first it didn’t seem to be so bad; as an introvert I even enjoyed the idea of quarantine at first. The lack of social interaction began to gnaw at me in the next coming months, where I began to have a sense of withdrawal from friends and people outside of my immediate family. We’ve been staying in touch through social media, like Discord, but it’s just not the same anymore. Year-long story short, I miss my friends. I miss the social aspect of school. While COVID’s got its fair share of pros, it also has many cons that we would’ve never expected out of this year. -Senior

Throughout this year, I have been struggling more with school, and being able to have fun has been difficult to plan. My anxiety has gotten worse, but over this past year, I have found some strategies that have helped me with that. My dog has been a huge help on keeping my mind off of stressful subjects, and I have been able to see some friends which have been a huge help. My dad has been a bit more difficult ever since this pandemic by making it harder for me to go and hang out with friends, but that has never stopped me. I still continue to try and convince my dad to let me go out sometimes, and even though it is a struggle to do, it is always worth it in the end. I am aware that my father is just trying to protect me from this pandemic, but being around friends helps me and I am having fun which is hard to do these days. School has been a struggle, but I have learned to adapt to the online learning. I am still struggling a bit, but I have learned to deal with it, and I am doing much better than what I was before. -Senior

Lost all will and motivation to succeed in school and no longer want to go to college because I haven’t been in a classroom in over a year and been scraping by in all my classes. -Senior

‘I’ve been journaling a lot recently and I would really recommend it to anyone that spends too much time in their head. I kept writing and I felt myself coming back to the same ideas about being a senior. The hardest part isn’t missing prom or homecoming or rallies, it’s saying goodbye to the last remains of childhood alone. All the seniors are closing so many chapters and moving on with larger and larger milestones, but we’re all doing it by ourselves, from our houses, suffocated by our families however helpful or detrimental they might be. 

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think a real graduation is super possible and if it is, I’m still missing out on all the goodbyes. Not the big goodbyes between childhood bestfriends, but the goodbyes between acquaintances, classmates, people you pass in the halls, those are missing. Even with a graduation we still won’t get the small goodbyes.

I really have a soft spot for physical notes, so signing yearbooks is one of my favorite things ever. And I’m missing it. Of course it’ll be ok. It has to be. -Senior

I had been displaced from my home and was forced to do school in an RV for 3 to 4 months before I was able to obtain a stable living environment. Internet was a huge issue and my parents were working overtime and I respect and love my family so much more for it. It was rough, and we were always moving from place to place, which meant I was busy driving the family SUV hours on end, limiting the time I could spend on school, and in some cases, meaning I had to miss class. It was also during one of the hottest times of the year, and with limited AC and multiple power outages, it made life difficult. All of this swamped my parents, and they were constantly busy, whether it was maintaining their jobs, or figuring out where to go next, so that meant it was now my responsibility to help out my brother. He has Attention Deficit Disorder, which limits his attention span, but we were able to work together as brothers, and accomplish the homework at hand. With all of that being said, I was still able to focus and apply myself to achieve not only a passing grade, but now I have been accepted to a number of colleges and know where I want to go. Though at the time it seemed like the worst was upon us, I personally believe it could have been a test of life, and our family was able to bond more and push through together beyond what we ever thought was possible. When I reflect on the past, I choose to look at how it made me stronger, how it made our family stronger. Love your family, as they will do absolutely anything for your success, I know from first hand experience. This was my experience. Thank you, Anonymous.-Anonymous

The pandemic destroyed my mental health. I’ve tried several different things in order to try to improve it, but it isn’t how it used to be. This isn’t going to be one of those uplifting experiences of how I conquered the pandemic by becoming a master at puzzles. I miss school. I miss the feeling of walking through the hallways in the morning. Quiet before the storm. I actually enjoyed the lectures from the majority of my teachers. I know so many people who were excited when we got those two weeks off but I was far from that. I don’t really care as much about prom or graduation anymore. I care more about those lunches conversations I would have with my friends. I care about those car rides to school when I would blast 80s ballads and try to get some pedestrians to sing along with Lionel Richie. I miss those people who’d get in trouble just to get a laugh from the class. I miss when our teachers would tell us stories from their past. I miss hugging anybody and everybody. I just miss normal life. I wish I could have said goodbye. -Senior

I used to get a shield every release when I was in Evans class, I love reading it I thought it was cool, seeing updated stories on modern events, and my favorite is reading about fellow students and such.-Junior

This year has honestly sucked. So many have experienced losses and have trouble finding adequate outlets to make us feel normal again. I’ve had the loss of interest in family, school, and food. How can you lose interest in food? Anyways it’s pretty bad. Can’t wait to stick my knee in some desk gum. -Junior

Nothing exciting. -de Cesare (Freshman)

I love online learning but I don’t  like not seeing any of my friends. -Freshman

Lots of things have changed since the start of quarantine, the most important for me however is that I’ve had to stop going to dance competitions with my friends.” -Freshman

I liked the experience with Westmont over the past school year (which still continues). Even though i had some fun, most of it was busy work. There was work, work, work, and more work. That made it not very fun. Although some teachers were nice about it, most teachers were just giving homework.” -Freshman

Spring break 2020 I was supposed to go to Portugal for the first time. I was really looking forward to it, not only because it is Portugal, but it was going to be my first time travelling out of the US. It hit me hard, but now I am hoping that I would have another chance like this when COVID lifts. I was also looking forward to graduation. I was bummed it wasn’t as I hoped it would be.” -Noor Aldimassi (Freshman)

Quarantine has made us learn new ways to learn (online school), new possibilities, new way of looking at things. Furthermore, I’m not going to say quarantine was the best because who doesn’t want to interact with friends and having to completely change how we learn was something big. As we know not many people like “change” and a big factor of change was having to learn online. Moreover, learning online probably wasn’t a big deal for those that get home-schooled but for those who on a daily week basis went to school in person, it was a big change. With this change new obstacles were confronted; internet, participation, how to get info out to parents/students. But overall it’s incredible how almost a year ago we didn’t know how to prepare for this, but now we have a plan to teach online and hopefully move forward into learning in person. -Heder Ambriz (Freshman)

I’ve been doing pretty well, comparatively speaking.  I’ve stayed connected with friends, online and off, and rarely missed class.  I’ve taken to listening to music obsessively, and tried to improve my drawing skills.  The hardest part has been all the political tension in myself and everyone I know, and the fact that I can’t easily resist a debate, which, as is obvious to most at this point, always goes awry.  For the most part, I’ve handled this passably, but I really am looking forward to interaction again. -Will Louderback (Freshman) 

Stress” -Sei Kato (Freshman)

Although this past year has been tough and filled with sorrow, something that has brought me joy and happiness is adopting a new puppy. Like many others during quarantine adopting a new puppy has its challenges like proper socializing, vet visits, and potty training but when we adopted him and brought him home everything felt right, like the world was normal again. His first birthday is in less than 2 months and we got him at 8- weeks, time really flew by with him but every second was worth it. Bringing home a new puppy was one of the best things that happened to me during quarantine and I would definitely recommend for other students to consider fostering or adopting a puppy or older dog for some light in this dark time.” -Freshman

“At the beginning of quarantine none of us knew what to expect and simply thought “Wow! An extra week off school!” However this enthusiasm slowly diminished into the reality of our situation, and we fell into a monotonous cycle of living: waking up, attending online class, going on our phones, and sleeping. Most people would give anything to be able to go back and not have to go through quarantine, but if the pandemic had never happened I wouldn’t be the improved version of myself that I am today. Staying at home for the entire summer with nothing to do, I wasn’t able to find my purpose for waking up every day. Then, I decided that was enough, and I began creating a schedule for myself every day and sticking to it. The schedules I created balanced relaxation, physical exercise, and mental health. In not even a month, I felt as though I was living in the best summer ever. Not only did quarantine teach me how to plan for my day and make it clear what my goals were, I learned that I am extremely fortunate and put in perspective exactly how grateful I should be. -Freshman

Because of quarantine my cousin who is from Japan and goes to college in England came to live with us and he has been here for almost a year. Before quarantine I didn’t get to see him very often because he lived so far and it has been really fun to get to know him better and have another person in the house that could drive me places. He is going back to England to complete his senior year of college in June but I’m incredibly grateful for the time I got to spend with my cousin. -Hailey Abdilla (Junior)

I’ve never had a year go by this fast but also never had so much happen within a year. It also feels like my first day of sophomore year was yesterday, and it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact I’ll be a senior in only a couple months. -Leo Commisso (Junior)

COVID has been pretty hard, but it wasn’t all bad.  We got a dog during the pandemic and my sister went to college to live on campus, which she loves.  I am with my family everyday and we have bonded more during the pandemic.  Not seeing my friends from school really sucks and I wish that I could see them everyday at school like I used to.  One thing I really miss is going to restaurants with my family.  Over all, COVID sucks, but some good has still come from it. -Hugo Merchant (Junior)

If we ever find ourselves in another quarantine (God-forbid), I strongly suggest that you watch Naruto.-Junior

I have gotten closer with many people throughout this pandemic. I’ve met new friends online and bonded over shared COVID experiences, gotten closer with people at school. However, I’ve also struggled with feeling isolated, not being able to connect with friends or family members in person. I’ve also been thankful for online school, as I like the freedom it offers to manage and create my own schedule for homework. -Junior

My mom was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic. She is going through treatment and my dad works full time so I’m currently in charge of my siblings. It’s been hard to keep up with school and family matters while still being able to make time for myself. Life can be really hard sometimes, but the pandemic has been a much needed mental shift. It has allowed me to reassess what is actually important. Although the situation is nowhere near ideal, I’m thankful for what I do have.-Junior

Since the pandemic started, time has flown by extremely fast. All the time talking with friends and playing games online feels like a blur, when in reality almost a full year has passed. I’ve lost touch with some friends due to different interests, however I have made so many more that I enjoy interacting with.-Junior

“Throughout this interesting year we have had social distance due to the coronavirus.  That being said, most people, including myself, aren’t able to visit their relatives and/or hang out with friends.  One thing I have found helpful is to FaceTime and/or text your friends and relatives.  Even during online learning, my teachers have all been really understanding and kind.  They make learning seem fun/engaging and include lots of interactive activities/assignments.  Teachers have spent so much time coming up with many different ways to do a project or assignment and I really appreciate their efforts for making learning more interesting.  Although online learning is difficult, keep trying your best and keep on moving forward with a smile on your face.  (Smiling makes you feel happier). -Freshman

Bad -Freshman

I think the experience was nice. I’m a bit more confident with doing school online than in real life so that was a nice experience.” -Sara Abebe (Freshman)

I think Westmont is a good place. I have not had any trouble with any teachers so far, and the students are not problematic. -Anonymous

I thought “Oh hey! I don’t have to go to school! Now I can sleep in!” in the beginning of distance learning, but now it is much more a lack of care since I dislike distanced learning and this is my last year, so my grade has been dropping, due to my lack of care for distanced learning and due to my studying capabilities. -Christopher Rensel-Smith (Senior)

Not that great. It’s hard to engage with teachers especially in larger classes. -Matt Etzel (Freshman)

I started off the year procrastinating a ton, and I learned that online it is really easy to procrastinate, but it’s really not good.” -Diego Mantelli (Freshman)

I think that the pandemic has affected me in many ways. A positive is that it has given me much more free time to spend. Pre-pandemic times I would always rush to finish all my homework and not focus too much on it so that I would get a few minutes for free time. After the pandemic hit, I have much more time to work on my homework and still get plenty of time to do things I want to do. A negative way COVID has affected me is that I don’t feel as much connected to my teachers and peers. -Freshman

It took a few weeks of taking classes online to get used to the new normal, but now I am used to waking up and opening up zoom rather than heading to school. I think all my teachers have done a great job adapting to the current situation. I feel connected and engaged in my classes, even if they are not in person. This is hard to do and I am grateful for all my teachers. The main thing I miss from in person school is the social aspect (seeing friends and talking to new people).” -Freshman

Online school has been somewhat stressful because I don’t interact with any of my friends, but one way I have been keeping in touch is by watching tv shows and movies with them. It’s a good way to relax and have fun with your friends.” -Freshman

I personally feel this school year has gone pretty well for me. My mental health is overall much better. I mainly struggle with social anxiety so I can’t really say I miss in-person school very much. My metal health is overall better this year than it has been previously. The main downside is that I really miss my friends and don’t get to talk with them often. -Freshman

Quarantine has been scary and enjoyable. I really enjoy Wednesdays as it is a great day for me to study and it really makes me feel less stressed, I wish they would have done this in real school. However academically it is also frightening because I feel unprepared and like I am missing important pieces of information for my classes. I also am afraid of how these months in quarantine will affect me socially as I have become very comfortable being alone and in contact with people I am comfortable. So now the aspect of in person school sounds even more terrifying. However I am still thankful that my grades have not suffered too much and that I will be able to enjoy the rest of my year in-spite of Covid -19. -Freshman

Quarantine has been pretty hard because I have not been able to see my friends and extended family much. Something that helps me overcome this struggle is my cat. He helps me feel a lot less stressed and gives very good cuddles. However, quarantine has helped me to find out more about myself. Over quarantine I started to watch anime, read a lot more, and paint and draw a lot.” -Freshman

In general, we had a lot more time on our hands. We have the ability to instantly go from class to class, but it is incredibly hard to focus. Nothing feels important, nothing feels like we should devote our attention to it. Teachers now don’t even have control of students, as students can just turn off their camera. It is just horrible for motivation, and I hope to return to school. -Freshman

This year has been a struggle, but it’s taught me some skills I never knew I needed. Specifically a new way to make friends. Making friends online during a time when everyone has no motivation to do things was strange.  I didn’t know exactly what to talk about with people cause there was nothing to really talk about that wouldn’t last more than a few dry sentences. A thing that helped me a lot was music and playing MineCraft. These things were talking points that just made everything easier because they could be discussed and used from the comfort of our homes. Now that it’s been almost half a year, I have a couple of friends to play Mine Craft with, and a hardcore world 4 months in the making. Just goes to show that sometimes you just need to work at things a little bit to find that little golden sunshine spot.” -Freshman

I am a freshman, so I’ve only been at Westmont online. Although I am in multiple clubs, and the people I’ve met in musical theatre and other classes are so nice, it’s been hard to make friends. Despite everything going on, I love Westmont. I feel like I fit in, I absolutely love and cherish the time I get to spend at school, and just signed up for ASB. Even though learning from my computer is hard and it’s been extremely challenging to find my interest in learning again, it makes me more excited to get on campus.” -Freshman

I think that Distance Learning has brought new challenges to the school year. Everything has a level of disorganization and is much harder to understand and keep track of–with many teachers failing to agree on set due dates for assignments, constantly forgetting to post assignments (or posting them with incorrect due-dates/instructions), and all of them having different ways to access and format assignments. In addition, many teachers have taken liberty in introducing thousands of new programs which students need to learn and become proficient in. Also–no surprise here–communication with peers and teachers has increased in difficulty. Also, distance learning has simply been plain lonely. Staring at a computer screen all day and seeing friends (and other forms of human life besides annoying siblings) very seldom has certainly taken a toll on many. On the plus side (sarcasm) at least it’s easier for hundreds of students to zone out in class or straight-up ditch their least favorite subjects. Overall, I really wish that we can return to in-person classes next year (of course with all of the necessary safety precautions). -Stella Walker (Freshman)

In my quarantine journey, I think I really learned to appreciate everything, small and big. Sometimes it’s because I find myself fortunate, but mainly because I lost a year in my life. Time I didn’t realize was so precious. Quarantine often feels like living the same day over and over again. Honestly, it’s exhausting. All my sports are cancelled; I haven’t been inside a gym since last year. I’ve been doing home workouts though. Mentally, I believe staying at home for so long can truly take a toll on your emotions and personality. Of course, there is also the halt in socializing. Not being able to be around friends, or just not talking to people everyday sucks, and sometimes you feel alone. -Valerie Wang (Freshman)

Over the past year I have become sad because I have not been able to see friends and family or other people that I wish to see. However I have been able to see some teenagers my age because of football. -Junior

Quarantine has been really difficult and we have all spent so much time away from the normal realities students should have. I have started to miss school and talking to people everyday. I have lost an uncle and wasn’t able to see him and I have been through many internal struggles as a teenager. It was so hard to think I would never see my uncle and I really hope this quarantine can come to an end soon. -Junior

This year has been difficult for me, as I am sure it has been for most. My grandma has been diagnosed with cancer again. I can’t see her in the hospital, I can only send notes, and call over the phone, but that is tiring for her after a few minutes. This has been difficult on my whole family, and everyone is preoccupied with ceaseless worry. She and I are very close, so it’s hard for me to see her in pain. She’s been in the hospital three weeks, she is very strong and determined, but I just wish she didn’t have to go through any of this again. -Anonymous

There is not really much to share. It is much like everyone else. I have been pushed to my limits to such a drastic extent. Much like most people. I never realized how much I had taken advantage of just life in general. I have lacked friends for years now, never could I have imagined I would miss seeing strangers on the street. Never could I have guessed I miss every annoyance caused from school. I truly miss over hearing a group of guys talking about something I find absurd. I wish I was able to raise my hand again. I had to walk an hour to and from school. I miss how frustrated I was because I had to walk almost 5 miles a day. I wish I appreciated it all. I wish that I was outgoing and talkative. At the least I could learn to appreciate things more. -Anonymous 

Although I imagined that I would dislike online learning and the shelter-in-place, I have found myself doing and feeling better than even when everything was “normal.” During online learning, I’ve learned to become more organized, which has helped me in doing well at school. Additionally, scheduling a Zoom meeting, a call, or just texting my friends has helped me feel connected even during what is supposed to be an isolating experience. Although ending the shelter-in-place will be nice, I have gotten used to this new normal and honestly am enjoying it despite the more immediately visible drawbacks. Most importantly, I feel tremendously grateful that my family and I have stayed safe. -Anonymous

Although I imagined that I would dislike online learning and the shelter-in-place, I have found myself doing and feeling better than even when everything was “normal.” During online learning, I’ve learned to become more organized, which has helped me in doing well at school. Additionally, scheduling a Zoom meeting, a call, or just texting my friends has helped me feel connected even during what is supposed to be an isolating experience. Although ending the shelter-in-place will be nice, I have gotten used to this new normal and honestly am enjoying it despite the more immediately visible drawbacks. Most importantly, I feel tremendously grateful that my family and I have stayed safe.-Anonymous

My mental health is horrible.Alexis Guerrero (Senior)

This year has been really difficult for me. I haven’t seen any of my friends since March 13th and every day it is harder and harder for me to do the things I am required to do. Things as simple as eating have become a chore. Over the winter break, both my parents tested positive for COVID. They are both okay now but my mom’s symptoms got so bad she had to spend a couple of nights in the hospital. It’s really difficult to watch all of these people’s stories of them seeing their friends and going out acting like the pandemic isn’t happening while my family has been so extremely careful, only going out when we have to. -Junior

My experience this year has been good so far besides the occasionally the internet goes out, but besides that everything is going good, having said that I do feel as a senior I do miss the social aspect being with my teachers and my friends, and interacting with them.  Also just missing being able to have senior fun activities in person like prom, senior beach, and wondering if we will have an in person graduation is what I’m curious about.  The positives of COVID-19 is just being able to spend more time with my family” -Natasha Muller (Senior)

“Even after about a year of doing this, it still feels kind of unreal. -Cole Young (Senior)