EDITOR’S NOTE: Lauren Pekari is a 16-year-old sophomore at Forsyth Central High School in Georgia. Lauren is an active member of the FCHS Deca Chapter and was most recently selected to serve as their VP of Marketing for the 2020/2021 school year. Lauren was named Student of the Year in the Promotions and Professional Sales class and is the head of the Design Committee for the school Advertising and Promotion store.

2020: my sophomore year of high school. The year of the pandemic that came upon the people of the world like a cheetah hunting prey…fast and unexpectedly. Social media, news stations, and radios all began to focus on one subject: COVID-19. Rumors of the deadly virus’s arrival in the United States arose in early March and quickly led to an immense amount of fear among Americans. As the number of cases grew, so did the panic across the nation. Businesses began to shut down, schools began to close, and nobody was seen closer than six feet apart. My sophomore year would now be completed through a computer screen.

As a student who normally worked two jobs, my life was completely altered. I was no longer attending school during the week or attending work on the weekends. I always used to keep myself busy, and suddenly my schedule was completely free. School went from eight hours a day in classrooms to eight hours a week in my bed on my home computer. My friends and I all helped each other navigate our way through our online school experience. We would group FaceTime to ask each other questions and stay in touch; we helped each other out and we all got through this unfamiliar experience together.

After my schoolwork was completed, I had to find creative ways to keep myself occupied throughout the other 160 hours of the week. Social media played a big part in my quarantine. People all over the world created funny content on all different platforms. Comedy seemed to help teenagers everywhere cope with the situation that we were all unexpectedly placed in. I also began trying new activities in order to distract myself from the loneliness that began to grow inside of me. Cooking, online shopping, painting, exercise, and playing music all seemed to keep me occupied throughout the day. I told myself to do at least one productive thing, one creative thing, and one thing to keep my body moving a day. However, the coronavirus did not scare me enough to keep me locked in my house for three months. My friends and I created unique ways to see each other – safely, of course. We hiked together, watched sunsets, and had a lot of picnics. 

Quarantine was not a horrible thing for me. I was able to take a step back from the routine life I was living and try some new things. However, many were and still are stuck in their houses going stir-crazy – one of them being my grandfather. COVID-19 is known to be more dangerous to those of old age or those with health issues. My grandpa fit both of these criteria, meaning he would be risking his life to leave his house. In order to get him groceries and other essential items, my mom and I would shop for him. We would bring the food into his garage and wipe it down with Clorox wipes in order to ensure that no germs would make it into his house. He would then bring the food inside the house while wearing gloves and a mask, and disinfect everything before putting them all away. He was very grateful for fresh fruit and vegetables, and mostly, the face-to-face interaction with us when we would come over. As of today, my grandfather and many other people continue to shelter in place until the restrictions are lifted. This is a very difficult and lonely time for this group of people – while many of us return to work and school, they are still stuck at home.

Sadly, this virus took many lives this year. COVID-19 also slowed us all down and provided us with more time to spend with our families.

My hope is that scientists find a vaccination for this dreadful disease very soon so that lives will be saved, businesses and schools are able to re-open, and we can get back to some sort of normal life again. 

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