Written by Kiara Stone, Hiawatha High School Senior
If someone had anticipated what occurred in the past two years, would we have believed them? In November of 2021, my entire family came down with a sickness. We were all experiencing slight symptoms, but we assumed that it was just a cold. There were Thanksgiving plans the next weekend with my grandparents, and I knew that the right thing to do was get tested. To my parents' surprise, we were all diagnosed with Covid-19. That was our first encounter with the virus. After testing positive, I had to spend my first Thanksgiving without my entire family. I felt isolated and alone, disconnected from the world. Nothing about what was happening seemed real. I was quarantined for a total of twenty-four days that month. It drained my motivation to do anything productive, but that was the reality of many people’s lives around the entire country.
In the spring of my sophomore year, I started seeing bits and pieces of the news talking about a new virus that was spreading in China. At the time, no one thought anything of it. No one took it seriously or considered how quickly it could spread if it was released in the United States. All that my peers and I knew was that it gave us an extended spring break, never guessing that it would change our lives forever. After what seemed like that break being an innocent precaution, my world was flipped upside down. Masks were introduced, social distancing was enforced, and quarantines were taking out a great number of the student body. At the start of my junior year, everything was all but normal. The list of the things that the coronavirus took away from me kept growing. There were no school dances, no cramped lunch tables to socialize with my friends, no
paper assignments or handouts, no pep section, cancellation of events due to the number of students being quarantined, and more. All of the joys of my high school experience were slipping away one by one. Coming back to school, I was hearing about so many that were dying due to the spread, some of them being family of my friends. The atmosphere everywhere I went seemed tense or forced to make it seem like everything was okay. Seeing the low spirits of everyone around me became very discouraging. Throughout the rest of my junior year, my classmates and I began to find some sense of regularity again. I’m especially grateful that I got to experience a prom, which the seniors before me weren’t able to do.
In our Hiawatha community in particular, I don't think we understand the grave significance of the consequences of the coronavirus. The people who have yet to be directly affected by the virus may think that if they hadn’t gotten it yet, there’s no reason why they should be worried about contracting it. By experience, I know that that’s not true. It can jump out on you when you least expect it, and it can happen to absolutely anyone. The only way to reach a sense of normalcy again is for everyone to get the vaccine. There are still many people who just assume that the vaccine isn't safe. Many people are lacking the education about the studies done declaring the shot to not be detrimental to our bodies. We should have our medical professionals in the community host an informational meeting for those who are still uncertain about the vaccine. For instance, schedule a series of question and answer informational walks with local doctors. These things aren’t effective if they aren’t advertised. Information about this should be found in newspapers, flyers at local businesses, and notes could even be sent out to parents by the local school districts around Hiawatha. In these informational meetings, one of the main points that should be made clear is how readily available the vaccine is. For example, list all of the places that provide the vaccine. Concluding, the community needs to work together to spread awareness about the virus, because we still have a long way to go. I believe that we could all make Hiawatha, Kansas, a safer place to live by getting the coronavirus vaccine.
Written by Jazlyn Cardoza, Hiawatha High School Sophomore
Jazlyn Cardoza Sophomore (HHS) 9/21/20 The Impact of Covid-19 The summer became a long one and very boring. Most students would be happy that school was out soon, but we became stuck inside the house and not able to do anything or go anywhere. The lack of physical contact, sports, games, and just spending time with a lot of family and friends were just not existent anymore. The world became a dark and gloomy place for anyone to want to stay in. Covid-19 affected many people, family and friends suffered the effects of the pandemic. Some lost family, some lost time, but most of all we have suffered human communication and had to rely on the internet. Some families could not afford those things, and they struggled the most. The time that Covid-19 had taken from us, we can not get back. We spent months in our houses begging to go outside, begging to be able to be mask free, and begging to have our lives back. The pandemic has made all of us inhumane, we became hermit crabs and addicted to staying home. The life the pandemic has brought us is not one that most enjoy.
Covid-19 made my life stressful in ways but gave me a break to be able to catch up on life. I got to bring myself to reality and realize how I wanted to change myself and the places around me. With all the freetime and loneliness I got to spend more time with family and find out who I was and what I wanted. I found my passion in life and all of this made me realize that time is not guaranteed. We need to take a moment and realize that people won't be here forever, and the pandemic helped everyone realize that anything can happen at any time. We, as a community, need to respect those rules that were given and make change. We, as a community, need to be able to see past our own needs and wants and be able to help everyone around and make life a little easier. Masks are helping, washing your hands helps, giving to the community helps. As more things are opening up we need to take the necessary precautions to prevent those people from getting sick from the virus. I will help by doing my part and giving back to the community. Masks should be free, vaccines should be free, and anything that helps keep the virus away. This is reality, not some video game you can start over and have unlimited lives. Everyone has lost a loved one or knows of someone who has, we need to stand together and help each other out. We, as a community can help beat this virus with the right people, right mind set, and right intentions. We can do this together, but six feet apart for safety, as one community. We can beat the virus and live our lives normally again. Stay safe, stay connected, and help the people who are suffering, we got this!
Written by Michaela Gruber, Hiawatha High School Senior
How has Covid-19 impacted me?
Covid-19 hit hard at the tail end of my sophomore year in 2020. This pandemic quickly changed from a break from school to a never-ending headache and heartache. My family has lost many family members and we recently almost lost a close family friend. I have been quarantined twice, the second time I had my fight with the super-virus. Through our own struggle, my family has done our best to help our neighbors and friends the best we can. As the pandemic continues and the community feels the aftershocks, I will put forth my actions to help anyone in any way I can.
The school was the first thing that personally affected me. We went from an extra two weeks of spring break to only online school for the rest of the school year. That repetitive school schedule helped me stay on task. The last months of school were filled with uncertainty and I struggled to find motivation for school work. Post-Covid my classwork responsibility sadly declined, and my grades paid for it. During remote learning, I tried to keep myself busy, because I was in quarantine as well. One day I decided to bake a pie, class time snuck up on me and I was so focused on baking the pie that I continued to bake during an online lecture. As far as I know, I’m the only student at Hiawatha High School to bake an apple pie during Trigonometry class.
Since the start of Covid-19, I have lost two sets of great-grandparents, one set of my great-grandparents passed away due to Covid-19. On top of losing four great-grandparents, our family suffered the loss of two of my uncles. Both of them passed away from circumstances outside of Covid-19, but the number of lost family members since the pandemic began has hit harder than it should have. Covid-19 greatly impacted how families gather for events, holidays, and funerals, and with so many family members passing we dealt with the new recommendations to grieve our losses. One funeral for an uncle we had to wait months to gather and hug one another. The other uncle had a funeral style fitting his personality and almost felt as if it was illegal to gather so many of us in the funeral home for his services. He always had a tough time dealing with authority so it was a perfect memorial for my Uncle Matt. In the funerals we did have, we were advised not to give hugs and comfort others in fear of losing someone else from the virus. There was always an overwhelming sense of grief and torment, that because I couldn't formally say, "goodbye" I never had a righteous final farewell. The memories that my deceased family members had told, and the stories they held, will always be a memory to me.
Easily the hardest news to hear was when my first uncle passed away. For the whole sixteen years of my life, I had been lucky to not lose a family member. First, my great-grandma passed away two days after Christmas, then my uncle passed away four months later. This was difficult news for me to process. For months before I had been waiting for the yearly visit from my extended family. I had greatly looked up to my uncle and his death was very sudden. Instantly my first thoughts were about his funeral. At this time laws were being put in place to limit the number of people gathering in one place at a time. Making my grieving process harder with the thought I couldn’t have my goodbye. Luckily we were able to have a traditional funeral and my family could mourn together.
Another family member I will miss greatly was my great-grandpa, Eddie Finger. He had a beautiful, one-hundred-year-old farm with barns, sheds, and the house where he was born. He always had plenty of stories about the family, farm, and growing up and living his whole life in the home he was born in. He was a farmer so he farmed the land and he raised and sold cattle. The brand for those cattle was one that he had shared with his brother. I had recently purchased and registered my first wild burro from the Bureau of Land Management. Before he passed away, I asked him for permission to use his brand for my animals. He agreed and I had the brand registered with the State of Kansas to my name this summer. Getting that brand was and will always be a symbol of love and commitment which I will proudly carry forward in my life. It fills me with courage, respect, and an intimate soul warmth to be able to have my great-grandfather's name and his brand live on.
I had held out on getting vaccinated because I was unsure about it since it wasn't FDA approved. The day I received my first vaccine shot, I got the somber news that another one of my close family friends had gotten Covid-19 and that I had been exposed to Covid at school. Our family friend had a harder run with Covid-19, he is not much older than my dad and he was put on a ventilator because breathing on his one was just too hard for him. He remained on a ventilator for thirteen days, his body is still recovering, and is working on some of his cognitive skills in rehab in Kansas City He is still recovering approximately six weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19. His fight was a difficult one, but he is finally on a path to recovery.
The day I was vaccinated with the first coronavirus vaccine I was informed I had been exposed at school. Shortly after my exposure, I began showing symptoms and tested positive. I had to spend the next ten days isolated at home. This year I won the title of Miss Rodeo Topeka 2021 and was planning to attend a rodeo in Missouri with my title to represent the Topeka Rodeo. My quarantine forced me to cancel my plans, a rodeo queen came into contact with many young kids and athletes, so risking other lives was not an option to me. While quarantined I had my struggles during and after. I am the type of person that struggles to sit in one place for very long. On my third day, I had had enough and decided to walk. Of course, I couldn’t go far and resorted to walking in circles in my backyard. That still didn’t slow me down and I had walked three-quarters of a mile in about half an hour. After that day I was miserable and barely left my bed. Once my ten-day sentence was over I tried to go back to my normal life. I trim horses' feet and once had a whole day planned out because before I had Covid-19 I could trim about four horses and continue with my day. When I tried to repeat that I could barely get one hoof done and my legs were shaking uncontrollably and I had lost all my energy. Only recently have I been able to trim all four hooves on one horse, but can’t do very much after that.
A term I often hear from my parents is,” Do something for someone else today.” They not only remind me verbally but also their gestures. We have made late-night runs to the grocery store for a friend battling cancer. Along with groceries, we give her some company, and something to look forward to. She lost her daughter in a tragic accident many years earlier and has a small support system. My family has been able to help raise her spirits and encourage her to focus on her health and she has had some improvements.
One evening I went with my parents out in the country as they had things to do for our family friend with Covid-19. After taking care of the needed chores we began to leave and we saw a group of wild turkeys in the brush by the road. I enjoy the outdoors which includes hunting and fishing often. My parents stopped the car and I hopped out and ran back down the road having a brief random moment of fun admiring the birds. I returned to the car and exclaimed,” Why did you let me do that?” The residual effects of Covid were right there to remind me my body is still recovering.
Before you continue on your day I want to remind you that we are still amid a pandemic. Many more people are dying and you could lose those around you. Take a few seconds to get yourself vaccinated, grab an extra mask, and pack some sanitizer. You never know what a person's story is, and whom they’ve lost, or what they’re currently fighting. Treat your neighbors as you wish to be treated. Offer up a conversation or some home-baked food. Don’t forget to do something for someone else and make their day. Especially if it’s a stranger, in the end, we’re all in this together and should get to know each other a little better.