Written By Anna Bock
I pulled into the East High School student parking lot on Friday, Mar. 13, swinging the front axles of the car into parking spot 120. It was a morning like most others, with the heat blasting in the car as my body refused to acclimate with the early morning’s chilly breeze and the slow inertia of never wanting to leave the shelter of warmth hunkered down onto my shoulders. With a swift check at my daily countdown until graduation to motivate me, I swung my legs out of the car door’s threshold and began the four and a half minute journey to my first period. Little did I know, the countdown was wrong and today would be my last day entering the far left doorway into East High School as a student.
What was originally presented as a three week extended spring break in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually became a full cancellation of in-person classes for all Denver Public Schools students for the rest of the academic year. I realized the time at East that I took for granted had been cut short. Quickly, senior year traditions of Prom, Graduation, Senior Ditch Day and signing the E were thrown up in the air. Would we be the class from which coronavirus stole it all? Whispers cascaded, speculating postponements and cancellations, but little information circulated that was reliable and trustworthy considering the constantly changing circumstances.
However, as my senior year slowly slipped away before my own eyes, I decided I could do something with this extra time in quarantine. Statewide stay-at-home orders proliferated across the country and quarantine became a trending topic on all online social media platforms. The orders mandated staying home and away from large groups or public places. Navigating these parameters, I developed a set of new goals: to read more, to sleep more, to have a regular exercise regimen and to eat more healthy foods.
As a senior in high school, most weeks feel like a marathon. In the fall, the college process pulls most students into its all consuming grasp and creates a struggle of balance in trying to keep their grades up while enduring the treachery of the application process. Once one survives and makes it out of this process in the spring, they juggle school work with sports and planning ahead for the next year, deciding their academic future and slowly saying goodbye to the place they spent their last four years.
When the extended break was announced, this stress was cut short — an unexpected lulling pause in which I caught my breath and reconsidered my goals. With a new list of priorities in hand, I embarked on the break.
First, I began sleeping longer. I waved goodbye to the late bedtimes after homework and allowed myself to sleep past the dreadful 6 a.m. wake ups that had become customary over the past school years. With this extra rest, I became a more relaxed person. Then, followed the energy to exercise, as I took up running — something I never dreamt of enjoying. With slow improvement, though, I’ve learned to appreciate the adventure and fresh air of a good four mile run around the park.
Being homebound also means making food requires less effort than ordering out. I began making my own meals, substituting them for my typical weekly lunch at Chick-Fil-A or Cheba Hut. In combination with my new routine exercise, each day I began to feel healthier and more fit.
Lastly, I challenged myself to complete a book club reading list before I head off to college in the fall. Having been an avid reader all my life, the 36-book long list seems relatively unintimidating, however, in a typical end of senior year I would’ve never found the time to even start it. After a few weeks, I’ve already tackled ten of them and plan to continue onward and read them all.
In essence, while this year’s senior class was thrown an absolute curveball, I don’t necessarily find it to be all bad. As we advance towards college, this pause in life gives us unprecedented time to account for ourselves and our priorities, to allow time for things we otherwise might not have been able to accomplish. While the disappointment of postponed, or potentially cancelled, traditions loom over us, I have faith that there is still light at the end of the tunnel and our trusty Student Council will do their best to salvage them, or honor the class in a new way. For the time being, I say we make lemonade out of these lemons and cherish this unexpected break to enjoy time with ourselves and our families. Ironically, the resulting quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic may be the healthiest thing that ever happened to me.