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A few universal truths have held evident for the high school seniors participating in online learning across the country. We won’t recognize faces on our daily route to get to the next class, we won’t inhale the scent of cafeteria food wafting in the halls just before the lunch bell rings, and we certainly won’t experience a “normal” graduation. The question of what Monterey County seniors will experience remains up to the district, and the answer seems to change on a day-to-day basis.

A year ago, I would be unprepared to deal with the consequences of this unknown. I spent my summer P.E. class not in a sweaty locker room, but instead on the trails of Toro Park in order to complete my daily steps for homework. As ecstatic as I was to avoid the gym uniform and to have the easiest school year of my life, the summer presented a multitude of issues.

One of the biggest struggles was the realization that not all my friends share the same beliefs that I do. Finding the balance between my more Covid-safe friends, my more lenient friends and my own parents’ rules was difficult. If one friend saw another we would begin the process of doing our own contact tracing, which never worked the way we thought it would. The weight of maintaining friendships through our different lifestyles became heavier, and contact with my previously close friends gradually became limited. This was an early prelude to the distance we would all feel in a few months.

Sometimes throughout quarantine, I found a peace in being by myself. I was forced to get outside and move more instead of being stuck in the house, I was reading a book a day and I loved being with my closest friends.

Discussions of college began with the start of the 2020-21 school year, and applications began to consume every moment. ACT or SAT? To test or not to test? Applying to college during the pandemic proved to be more stressful with the inability to visit our counselors freely, and email became my best friend. With the complications of communication, the pandemic has forced students to put more effort into asking for help and making connections with their teachers.

Currently I spend about five hours a day on Google Meets and Zoom, listening to some of the best teachers at my school struggle through their latest technology grievances to a classroom full of blank screens and turned-off cameras, and honestly? I don’t think anyone minds. The world is experiencing a collective trauma, and if that doesn’t lead to higher patience levels for the minuscule things in life, I’m not sure what will.

I’m sure our teachers are annoyed, and I know the students are annoyed, but there is a mutual understanding that we are all just a little bit burnt out.

I hope that our high school seniors can eventually go back to school, attend prom, have graduation, and ultimately conclude our high school experiences with a feeling of satisfaction. For now, there’s not much else we can do but look forward to the future.