Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Class of 2024 Didn't Know High School Without COVID; The Class of 2024 Gets Ready for the Real World, and other C-Virus related stories

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The Class of 2024 Didn't Know High School Without COVID:
While cozy winter breaks come to an end, for many high school seniors, the beginning of the year signifies back-to-back college deadlines, decisions, and days spent on application essays. However, this season has also taken on an entirely new meaning for the class of 2024, as the four-year anniversary of COVID-19 and global lockdowns draws near.
Young people who entered the pandemic as high school freshmen now move into their final semester. Many high schoolers over the last few years have mourned the typical high school experience, parts of which they missed out on thanks to COVID-19. But today’s seniors never really had that typical experience at all. So as they near the end of high school, they envision what’s to come – whether it be the milestone of graduation or the possibilities of higher education – all the while reminiscing on what could have been, had the pandemic never happened. As they mull over the what-ifs of canceled ceremonies and the missed rites long-associated with teenagehood, some feel robbed.
“Where did my years go? I was in eighth grade and now I’m in 12th grade. How did all of this happen?,” high school senior Divya Bamorya, 17, from India, often asks herself. “It was very difficult to even realize what time [meant] to me.”
For such students, having to readjust their understandings of time and closure amid great unrest has been no easy task. Rather, redefining what it means to come of age has been an ongoing process. The era of virtual classes may (mostly) be over, but the effects of the pandemic continue reverberating through the halls of these final months of high school. Below, we spoke with the class of 2024 to learn how COVID-19 has informed their past four years: from navigating uncharted waters and coping with loss, to creating community in spaces that needed it the most.
Confronting Change and Uncertainty
“The pandemic hit three months after my dad died,” 18-year-old Stella Sturgill, from the United States, tells Teen Vogue. At the time of her father’s passing, she lived with her mother and sister. Even as her household’s structure remained the same, she very much felt his absence, and it was compounded by the lockdowns. “We were all, in different ways, experiencing this really acute, intense grief,” Sturgill said.
Several time zones away, in England, senior Gamu Mavhinga, 17, dealt with the death of her dad at the hands of COVID-19. Time seemed to erode, with moments of stagnancy followed by rapid transformation, especially felt once she moved to the United Kingdom from Africa and had to resume high school virtually. “It felt a lot like a blur [and] was such an intense period of anxiety, forming friendships, and trying to maintain those as well with [my] family…It’s almost like I didn’t have time to stop and think,” she said.
While Mavhinga grappled with change after change in her new home, she also observed “a weird sort of disparity,” wherein several of her friends were consumed with fear for the wellbeing of their families abroad – mirroring her concerns for her relatives in Zimbabwe and South Africa – while other acquaintances downplayed the severity of the pandemic, spending hours lounging in bed and making TikToks about how bored they were. “There was just such a gap between those two different experiences,” she said. “I used to feel very angry at people who couldn’t really understand how everyone else felt.”
She remembers worrying that anger would always cloud her hope. Similarly, Bamorya recalls how much time she’d spent looking forward to ninth grade, only for it to never happen in the traditional sense; anxieties over her community’s safety squashed any excitement she once had. For teenagers across the globe, “being separated from friends, separated from families, even losing people from the illness [or] grieving over the lives we could’ve had,” as Sturgill said, revealed just how nuanced the gradient of loss has been. Big or small, these feelings of separation were difficult to define and pin down, as were young people’s means of coping with and reacting to them. --->READ MORE HERE
Bloomberg Businessweek
The Class of 2024 Gets Ready for the Real World:
The students graduating this spring entered college at a profoundly weird time. The vibes are still a little strange.
Freshman year of college is supposed to be a new beginning. But for the class of 2024, the experience was more of the horrible same. They started school about a half-year into the pandemic, a time of pervasive anxiety that was only heightened for teenagers about to begin one of life’s big transitions. Some weren’t even initially allowed on campus; those who were had to deal with severe Covid-19 restrictions.
I met more than 80 of these students in the summer of 2019, when they were rising high school seniors attending a summer journalism program where I teach on the campus of Northwestern University. I wanted to know what college had been like for them. How was the pandemic still affecting their experience? So last month, I asked a handful to record themselves answering questions about Covid, college, debt, artificial intelligence and how they see their professional lives shaping up. Their answers follow in edited excerpts. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

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WSJ: Covid Sheds Haunt New York Sidewalks

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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