How Quarantine has Shaped High School Students

The pandemic has brought to everyone a time of distress and anxiety. Students at Centennial High School have expressed their fluctuating emotions over quarantine, varying from exhaustion to motivation. Despite challenges, however, they also shared stories of personal growth and discovery due to the extended time spent alone and adjusting to new circumstances, which has allowed for self reflection. 

For senior Emily Hollwedel, the time spent in lockdown has enabled her to expand her horizons as a writer. Having the time to consume more media, be it music, literature, movies, or news, Hollwedel has garnered inspiration to create new content. 

“Quarantine gave me time to finally get to all the shows I’ve been wanting to watch, the movies on my lists, to crack open the books that have been staring at me waiting for the right moment,” acknowledged Hollwedel. 

Prior to the pandemic, the avid role nature plays in the human spirit may have gone unnoticed. As Hollwedel observed, “it seemed like the world had stopped, but nature did not. The sun still rose and fell everyday and the seasons changed.” 

Hollwedel’s new appreciation for the serenity and comfort of nature has helped fuel her writing and creativity; she has had plenty of new ideas and experienced new feelings to put into words. She currently has a book in the editing stage and is continuing to discover more about what motivates her to keep on moving forward. “I’ve found a good balance and feel inspired more and more everyday,” she commented. 

A freshman at Centennial, who has chosen to stay anonymous, feels that they’ve changed more emotionally and mentally. “I’ve grown and changed my understanding of a lot of things, and I’ve learned a lot of things about myself too, and have set new boundaries,” they noted. 

Students have found that the extra time spent at home presented them with the opportunities to learn about themselves and pave a path for the future. As junior Rena Middleton stated, “[the pandemic] has given me more time to explore more things I may want to do. I’ve been able to grow into myself more and find out who I want to be.”

Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Middleton admitted that she has lost overall motivation over the course of the pandemic, which has and will affect the rest of her high school journey. If it weren’t for COVID-19, “[she] would probably be taking harder classes next year, and [she] would’ve been more involved in school activities and clubs.”

When thinking about where she would be right now if it weren’t for the pandemic, Hollwedel found that difficult to ponder. “I think I would be a little different, but honestly, it’s hard to tell,” she explained. “If there’s one key thing I’ve learned over the past year or so, it’s that it’s best to not dwell on the past and what could have been and rather keep focus on the present and future.” 

The anonymous freshman, who is non-binary, states that they knew their gender identity before the pandemic; however, they feel as though the pandemic has provided them the time to further explore and grow more comfortable in their identity.  

 “I would definitely be different. Even if I’m not at my best, I’m learning new ways to cope with things and have been able to connect with people more than I would have probably been able to,” they reflected. “Quarantine has given me a lot more time to think about how things affect me instead of being caught up in things at school.”

Overall, while quarantine caught most people off guard, many discovered their own identities, while others persevered through hard situations and developed newfound strength. “Mentally, I know so many peers who are drained by this situation– and I am too,” Hollwedel acknowledged. “But if I can keep inspiring and moving myself, then I know I’ll be alright eventually.”


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