Student takeaways from the pandemic

by Finley Stroh, Reporter

We made it!

From no motivation, having a hard time paying attention, not being able to travel, busy schedules, online school, not learning as much and feeling “useless,” we sure had one “weird,” “interesting,” “strange,” and “uncertain” year.

That’s how juniors Skylar Tillman, Morgan Manalili, Kaitlyn Manalili, and sophomore Hunter Tibodeau described their school year.

The Manalili sisters and Tillman recognized the lessons they learned this year, value in relationships, all stemming from the idea that we don’t know what we have until it is gone, and we can’t take things for granted. “I learned that being in person is actually really fun compared to online and that having table groups and side convos and group projects is something that we never thought we would have been taking for granted,” said Kaitlyn. 

“I learned that being in person is actually really fun compared to online and that having table groups and side convos and group projects is something that we never thought we would have been taking for granted””

— Kaitlyn Manalili

Morgan echoed her sister’s perspective. “I learned to appreciate the relationships I have… “I also learned that sometimes you have to step back and think about what is important to you.” 

Similarly, Tillman also came to appreciate her relationships more, specifically her family, recognizing not all people get to experience so much time together. “I have learned that being able to spend time with family over this past year was a privilege and not many people were able to have that. It has made me way more grateful,” Tillman said.

Tibodeau highlights the realization that “nothing is guaranteed,” especially during the covid pandemic. “You can’t expect things to happen and if you want it to happen you need to go get it,” he said.

In the midst of the pandemic, with online school and cancelled sports practices both Tillman and Morgan said they found a loss of motivation, like many other students.

For Tillman, online classes came with difficulty paying attention. “Since the teachers were on a screen and not in front of me, classes almost felt optional and it became pretty difficult to consistently pay attention for a whole class,” Tillman said. “I knew it was important that I change that so I kind of had to just switch my mentality and tell myself that eventually I would be going back and I need to focus.”

For Morgan, preparing for sports was difficult with all the uncertainty, but with the help of some of her teammates, training together and sending each other videos, she renewed her love for soccer. “I felt like I had something to lean on and I also realized that soccer is something that I really love and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t step on the field for a real game. Once I picked the ball back up and realized why I did it in the first place, I found more joy in it and it was more of an escape than something I ‘had’ to do.”

Despite all the hardships and disappointments of this year, students have found the positives, being able to go back to in-person school, participate in sports, have a lighter workload, more freetime, learn new hobbies, and, like Morgan, learn more about themselves and their passions.

Similarly, Tibodeau experienced changes in his sport–wrestling– with the pandemic and it ended up bringing his team closer together. “We haven’t been together in a while so it just forced us to enjoy the time we had,” he said. 

Tibodeau shares that he hopes people see the positives in situations and the things we do have, among the things we don’t. “We never have it the worst here. We get to have school, we get sports, we get clubs, and some people don’t have any of that. So be grateful and take advantage of it all. Someday you won’t be able to play sports, talk to all your friends, or even go to school,” he said.

Students said next year they hope to go in with a mindset of relaxing, being the best version of themselves, being happy, having fun, and enjoying high school.

Tibodeau shares that he is going into next school year with the mindset of wanting more. “More. I know that may seem like it’s not a mindset word, but to me it is. I always strive to get more than I already have now. It’s always a little goal to be as good as the people around you, but when I say more, I want to be the absolute best version of myself at all times. So I always want more,” he said.

Morgan had some advice for students in the future: “Get involved. Join a club or a team and start building connections…Take advantage of the opportunities that Shorewood offers.”