“My first name is Brody, my last name is Clark.”
“My name is Alana Lee.”
Four students, four schools.
They are middle-schoolers whose summers haven’t really been summers. Typically? Their summers would involve things like this.
“I would normally be going to summer camp,” says Sts. Leo-Seton 6th-grader Alana Lee, “and swimming, too.”
“We have like a vacation,” adds Brody Clark of L.J. Alleman Middle School.
“You would hang out with your friends,” goes Remi Guin, an 8th-grader at Cathedral-Carmel in Lafayette.
“We might get food and go to a movie theatre,” suggests Broussard Middle’s Cahli Broussard. “Of course, there’s nothing normal about this isolating summer.”
That was Summer: Past. But now? Summer: Present? Summer in the Corona Era of 2020?
Alana: “I’ve been staying inside, maybe going outside in my backyard for a little while.”
Brody: “Well, Covid came, so you have to like, clean up more and everything.”
Remi: “Some of the friends had coronavirus or their parents had coronavirus, so you couldn’t hang out with them.”
Cahli: “(What have you done since the end of May?) Absolutely nothing.”
The pandemic is everywhere. But has Covid-19 been a hot topic with classmates? Is it mentioned a lot via Facetime? “We don’t even talk about it, I don’t think,” says Lee. But that’s not the case for Broussard. “Covid is like one of the only things we talk about.”
Ready or not, physical or virtual or both--- comes the start of school. But the excitement is balanced with fear, the fear of worst-case Covid scenarios. “Honestly, I’m kind of scared that I would be able to see my friends ever again,” wonders Lee. “I mean, what if they shut down school again—for good—and I would never get to be with them again?”
On school supply lists--something I never thought I’d see--right there with crayons and calculators… are masks.
“It’s going to be kind of aggravating having to breathe through it all the time,” anticipates Clark.
“They’re very aggravating, I don’t like masks,” concurs Guin, “and we’ll have to wear them all through the day at school.”
“I don’t even notice it and sometimes I forget it’s even on,” disagrees Lee, “so I guess I’m o.k. with them.”
“They make me hyperventilate and make breathing difficult,” says Broussard, “and I just think they’re unnecessary.”
As they did last spring, some members of our panel, will have learn…virtually. That’s a prospect Broussard isn’t looking forward to at all. “I didn’t get to learn with my classmates or face-to-face and whenever I had a question, I had to email them instead of just asking.”
The most common word used in our interviews was… “Friends.”
And it’s a big part of going to school— a word emphasizing that human need to interact. I asked Remi Guin, ‘What are you most excited about?’ She didn’t hesitate. “Seeing people, just seeing people.” And Lee reinforced Guin’s thoughts. “I just want to see my friends again, and all of the teachers that I miss.”
Finally, one of the cool things about these middle-schoolers was this:
Their ability to both face reality… and maintain a bit of hope for the future.
“Just keep on hoping it will be over eventually,” says Clark softly. “Just keep on hoping it will be over.”
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