A month has passed since the last day of school, and students and teachers have adjusted daily life to accommodate social distancing. What has everyone been up to?
Many students and teachers have taken this time to spend more time with family. Mrs. Wells enjoys taking walks with her daughter, who is home from college. Junior Katherine Li also likes “walks and bike rides with her family.” Meanwhile, Mr. Weaver and his family rescued a baby squirrel that fell out of it’s nest. “He is happy in a wildlife rehab now,” says Mr. Weaver. After dinner together, junior Anthony Marino and his family “play a bunch of boardgames.” Dinner and the evening have also become common family times among 50 other surveyed students.
Those who can not physically be with their families make the most of their situations by using video calls. “I have been playing with my cats,” says Señora Mendez, “and face-timing with my family and friends.”
In attempts to follow social distancing, students have come up with clever ways of still keeping in touch with friends besides electronics. According to freshman Sarah Baick, she and her friends plan virtual sleepovers. Junior Keely Kivel sometimes meets friends “at a parking lot – six feet apart of course – where [they] hang out in car trunks and form a circle and spend time together.”
Teachers have had the challenge of continuing classes virtually. “At least part of each day is spent doing school tasks, including grading student work, creating Google Form quizzes, selecting problem sets from Delta Math, and creating lesson plans,” says Mr. O’Connell. In addition to teaching her own remote-learning classes, Mrs. Fournier-Rea has also been working with her two elementary school kids to get their remote learning done.
With more flexibility with time management, students have been (on average) falling asleep between 12:00 and 2:00 am, with some earlier and some later. However, a large portion of students are still waking up at a reasonable hour, and over 90% of students are getting more sleep than before (according to a 50-student survey). Freshman Sarah Baick generally wakes up before 10:00 am. Sophomore Claudia Breed “tries to maintain a routine,” waking up at 8:00, then eats and “starts schoolwork at 9:30.” Junior Mitchell Brecht starts his day at around 9:00 in the morning and starts off with schoolwork as well. In fact, although quarter 4 has become pass/fail, almost all students are still prioritizing school work and making an effort to make sure there is a routine in daily life.
“It’s definitely hard to keep up a regulated schedule,” says senior Jhanavi Thakkar. “School was definitely the biggest regulator in my life, it took up seven hours of my day, determined when I eat, sleep, and workout – without it, it’s very easy to let yourself go. Without school, I am definitely getting a lot more sleep and more time to do activities that I enjoy that I never had the time to do.”
Unsurprisingly, LHS teachers and students have turned to their electronics for entertainment. Nearly 100% of surveyed students have been watching Netflix or other sites and browsing social media (especially Tik Tok). Mr. O’Connell admits to having “watched an unusually large amount of streamed material on Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, and Apple TV,” and is “almost caught up on The Bold Type which stars LHS alumna Meghann Fahy.” Junior Armen Asik summarizes the significance of Netflix in his daily schedule: “At about 12, I begin watching Netflix. I conclude watching Netflix around 3:00, when I realize that I want to do something productive with my day. I then procrastinate doing something productive for the next few hours while I watch Netflix. After that, I have dinner with my family. After dinner, I go back to watching Netflix while I do a bit of homework. At about 9pm, I go for a run, and then conclude my day with a bit of Netflix.”
Aside from electronics, many have spent their free time reading. “I always end my day reading fiction,” says Mrs. Werlin. Mr. Keller says that “good books provide a kind of vicarious freedom” when stuck indoors. Over a third of students surveyed have found the time to read for pleasure.
Cooking and baking have become common activities as well, since they can be done indoors and in isolation. Senior Bella Vecchiarelli cooks or bakes when she needs a break from school work. Mrs. Fournier-Rea and her family particularly enjoy the brioche cinnamon rolls and pizza dough from a beginner bread-baking book she received for Christmas. “I’ve made (and eaten) more cookies in the last month than I have in the past year,” says Mr. O’Connell.
Teachers and students have also taken advantage of this time to let their creative juices flow. Mr. O’Connell has continued to work on his very own Precalculus textbook. Many students, both those enrolled in LHS art classes and those not, have used this time to practice their art skills, ranging from singing to painting to embroidery. Junior Alexander Daviau is spending time on writing, playing, and recording music. “I’m relearning how to play piano,” says junior Katherine Li, “and I rediscovered my love for Just Dance 4.” Mrs. Godin has been encouraging her students to continue their pieces as well as create new ones. “March to September is too long a time to be inactive; mentally, physically, and creatively,” she says.
As the weather becomes warmer, many have also started to spend more time outdoors. Mr. Weaver is building a bridge over the brook in his backyard for his kids, and plans on “trying (for the second year) to grow tomatoes from seed.” Similarly, Mr. O’Connell wants to grow plants in his kitchen so that he can hopefully move them outside in late May. Mrs. Fournier-Rea also wants to start a backyard garden with seeds she ordered. “My students know my history with plants,” she says, “so everybody please cross your fingers for me.” Best of luck, Jfrea!
Spring sports may be cancelled, but LHS students are still exercising and striving to stay in shape. Junior Owen Dzierzgowski runs anywhere between two to six miles daily in addition to working out, and junior Andrew Hines continues to practice lacrosse. Almost every surveyed student answered that they do some form of physical activity every day, whether that be walking, playing badminton, or working out.
Teachers have been active as well. “I’m also training for a half marathon,” says Mrs. Fournier-Rea, “which will be run virtually on Mother’s Day.” Mrs. Werlin follows a Youtube yoga video every morning and takes walks outside. On his walks, Mr. O’Connell listens to audiobooks and has just started listening to Victoria Aveyard’s King’s Cage.
In this challenging time, some have dedicated themselves to giving back to the community. Junior Mitchell Brecht emails volunteers for Sontino Allentuck’s 3D mask printing collaborative in his evenings. Mrs. Werlin works at “Not Bread Alone” three days a week, which is an organization that provides meals and groceries to our neighbors in need. “We take all the precautions we possibly can, but I just can’t imagine allowing our neighbors to go without food at this difficult time,” she says.
“I hope that students are continuing to follow social distancing rules for a few more weeks so that we can go back to school before the end of the year,” says Mr. O’Connell. He also suggests students that watch television news for less than 15 minutes a day. “If you must watch…you should choose an established and trustworthy news organization,” he says. Mrs. Fournier-Rea advises students to take care of their mental health, whether that be resting more, picking up a new hobby, or spending time outdoors. “In terms of getting done the stuff we have to do – like remote learning – I find it helpful to use the Pomodoro method; set a timer for 20-25 minutes and devote those minutes to whatever assignment needs to be completed,” says Mrs. Fournier-Rea, “then take a break and repeat. Take care, and stay healthy, everybody!”