To Personify a Statistic: Not a Pandemic Pun


Annie Hsu

Trying to balance my own wants as a senior and being a considerate senior can cause a lot of stress, exacerbated by the rising COVID cases around the country

Mahika Arya, Web Editor in Chief

Dear reader,

Let it be known that I refuse to call myself a “quaran-teen.”

Going to school right now is… weird. It’s early 2022, and instead of flying cars and robots, we have an airborne virus (for the third time) and vaccines. We’re writing essays and computing formulas while countless people fall ill and die everyday.

While walking down the halls or scrolling through the news, I find people pushing for school to be shut down in the wake of the Omicron variant, especially after the holiday season surge. And honestly? It’s understandable why. 

On that fateful day — March 13, 2020 — Contra Costa County shut down in-person learning with 1,700 COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths in the entire United States. Now, we’ve already broken 1,700 cases in one day in just Contra Costa.

With the numbers of infections only projected to increase, of course we all want students and their families to remain safe. But when the topic of school closing comes up, I find that a lot of students — especially us seniors — are more than a little apprehensive.

As a senior, as part of the only graduating class so far who can say it had just one year of normal high school — losing these last few months, these last few memories, sounds really sad, for lack of a better word.

We’ve waited patiently for months online, excited by the news of coming back in person for our senior year. Since August, being a senior has meant the promise of prom and graduation, enjoying our last few months of high school. This experience, the normal high-school life, is one one that we’ve seen the previous two years lose, one that I think most of us don’t want to miss.

Of course, virtual learning had its perks — we could study in the comfort of our bedrooms, take more impromptu stretch breaks and huddle under blankets while frantically typing AP Lit timed writes (at least, I hope that wasn’t just me). On the flip side, we also saw students take a hit in their mental health, gaps in overall grades and loss of social connections. Considering all this, I’m dreading the possibility of leaving in-person school and spending these last few months struggling online and alone. 

But if I can be frank with you, reader, I almost feel selfish for thinking the way I do.

Objectively speaking, I know it’s not, because I think as a 17-year-old, I’m entitled to not wanting the end of my senior year of high school ruined. It’s weird, being a young student during a pandemic, and trying to balance our natural desire to socialize and enjoy our limited school experiences with our empathy for the people around us.

Honestly? I wish it wasn’t a balance that was forced on us in the first place, because it seems cruel to make us choose.

I know I’m taking as many precautions as I can, from religiously masking to avoiding travel, and all of us are trying to do the best we can with this precarious situation. But amongst talks of virtual learning, it’s easy to feel like no one ever really considers the emotional loss that comes packaged with a lockdown.

Going against my stereotypical Asian habits, this is a two-for-one deal that I definitely don’t want to take up.

Anyways, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about my older senior friends — the graduating class of 2020. When school shut down, I obviously felt bad for them, but I was also a bit confused. Why would they not be ecstatic to basically have no school for the last few months of high school?

But I think I’m getting it now. As a senior, as part of the only graduating class so far who can say it had just one year of normal high school — losing these last few months, these last few memories, sounds really sad, for lack of a better word.

Please note this is not me saying I wake up every morning just bursting to study GDP for the next five months. Really, it’s me saying that I wake up every morning excited to meet friends, to learn more about the world, to really enjoy these last few months.

If we do go online, I’ll adjust the same way I did nearly two years ago. I’ll have Netflix Party marathons with friends while missing seeing them in person; I’ll spice up my prom pictures with a mask; I’ll watch my graduation from my living room, throwing up my cap and praying it doesn’t catch on the ceiling fan. 

Okay, fine. It’s peak cringe, but I guess I can (begrudgingly) embrace the “quaran-teen” life, as long as it doesn’t embrace me back too hard. 

Feeling weird about life,

Mahika Arya