By Madelyn Porter
March 19, 2020. The last day of school for the Salida School District.
At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal. Now, five months later we still don’t know for sure if we will go back. The coronavirus pandemic has launched a unique set of challenges at everyone and completely tossed customary life out the window. High school is a significant era in adolescent life and in this new unorthodox setting, the lives of teenagers have been dramatically altered. Based on the unknowns this year has held, I have begun to place my peers in a set of categories that reflect their opinions and behavior surrounding the pandemic, and despite my teenage status, I have seen little coverage on the experiences of the youth. Below is my incomplete documentation of thoughts and feelings from teenagers in Salida, Colorado.
The “Roll With the Punches” Cohort:
Upcoming senior at Salida High School Kaylynn Shaffer is known for her contagious laugh and ability to overcome adversity so it is no surprise that she has been able to maintain a spark of positivity throughout lockdown and adapt to changes in everyday life.
“The pandemic has made it more difficult for me to do the things I love, but it gave me time to grow closer with my family … It was difficult for someone like me to be unable to be around people, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
It is inspiring to see someone like Shaffer make the best of incredibly trying situations, particularly since we all know how much teenagers love spending time with their parents.
“Although the virus has changed many aspects of what I had planned for the summer, COVID has given me the opportunity to learn about myself and the people around me. I can’t compare my negative experience [with] the virus [to] so many others though, because I know my family will be ok in the end. I hope people can work together to end this pandemic safely so that we can get back to more important things.”
Also an upcoming senior at SHS, Jade Barron is an active part of the drama team and U-19 USA National Rafting Team, the Dandy Lions. Barron is the stage manager for the drama team and was ready to premiere their performance of “Clue” beginning March 20, and The Dandy Lions were set to attend Worlds in China this August after winning Nationals the summer of 2019. Despite a disappointing end to the school year and the cancellation of the competitive rafting season, Barron has been able to make the most of her free time and maintain perspective in her situation.
I myself fall into this category. They say there is always a silver lining, but when the world is being ravaged by a virus and those who we are told to look to for national guidance reek of incompetence, that is a little hard to believe. However, through the ups and downs of this year, I have not found myself completely and utterly disappointed at the trials that come my way. It seems I have finally taken to heart my dad’s sage advice, “let it roll off like water on a duck’s back.” Of course, I am not careless about issues of importance. In fact, I am a notoriously passionate person, but I am finally learning to live and let live. That said, people who refuse to wear masks may need to rethink their principles.
The “Say it as it is” Gang:
Unlike Shaffer and Barron, some people have only a few words that are piled high with vexation.
In the words of upcoming SHS Senior Hannah Frost, “COVID blows.”
This sentiment really rings in true to the “less is more” philosophy. In two simple words, Frost is able to convey the emotions of the world, eliminating the need for any Oscar Wilde-style poetry about this year.
If asked to describe Zoe Thomas in one word it is safe to assume most people would say something along the lines of “fiery.” An upcoming junior at SHS, Thomas is strong-willed and completely unafraid to voice her opinions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected me as much as other people but it’s still helped me realize just how ignorant some people can be.”
She said what many have been thinking (at least in Salida). We are immeasurably lucky to still be able to safely participate in many of the outdoor activities that our lifestyles revolve around, but we have not been spared from the negligence of some that make the rest of us sigh with disappointment. A stand-up citizen, Thomas can often be seen strolling downtown with her mask on or enjoying the outdoors by social distancing in the river.
No one can disagree that the pandemic has been a real drag, but in true Gen Z fashion, many teenagers are opting for hope and fighting for what is right. With people like this in our ranks, the future can be bright.
Salida High School senior Madelyn Porter joined the Tenderfoot Times to avoid taking Pre Calculus and is unable to get out of the journalism hole.