Reading and Writing Our Way Forward
Quarantine for me has gotten to the point where all the days seem to blend together. My sleep schedule has been completely flipped upside down. I sleep only when I see the sun come up and hear the birds chirping and wake up when the sun is gone. If it weren't for the google classroom due dates, I would have no real perception of time or what day it was.
When we first started quarantine, I had no idea that it would be lasting so long or getting so bad, especially in New York, although it makes sense considering how many people rely on public transportation here. Starting, I would've never guessed that it would cost us our graduation, prom, and summer vacation plans. Making the transition from an actual school where I can see my friends and receive help from teachers in-person to online school has been pretty hard because I can spend half my day doing my work because of how slow I work on my own. A plus side to this though, is that I can always call my friends if I need help with something or if I want to talk. Within the days of quarantine, I can spend up to ten hours on FaceTime with them, talking to one person or a whole bunch at once. We talk about the dumbest things, but at this point in the quarantine, talking to friends about silly things for hours is better than sitting alone talking to no one. The idea that feeds my spirit is the conversations I have with my friends. They are genuinely some of the funniest and easy-going people I've ever met. The fact that they are so chill and approachable makes everything a lot easier to deal with.
Something I've learned from being in quarantine is that having a conversation over phone or FaceTime is never going to be the same thing as seeing them in person and being able to feel them there with you physically. But these talks we have are probably one of the only things keeping me sane during the quarantine. It's funny how our conversations of, "Our Minecraft dog house isn't close enough to our Minecraft mansion" are enough to keep me entertained while under lockdown. Some conversations are a lot more academic, or future-oriented though and follow along the lines of, "I wonder what life will be like for us in college?" or "I hope that I won't struggle with my classes too much without you guys around to help me understand". That being said, quarantine has made things a lot harder for me in terms of academics, not just in high school but for making decisions that will affect my future at college.
During the beginning of the year, we were all together and were able to talk about things like college and our future careers with our counselors in person who made it seem a lot easier to deal with.
When you're sitting at home with nothing to do other than think about what life will be like when this ends, my conversations with my friends over FaceTime usually steer to the fact that by the time this is over, we'll be in college or at least about to be. I've also had to accept the fact that the college I choose, whatever it is, will be a huge change that I'll have to adapt to myself, without the friends I've grown up with. Deciding without having someone always available to help you through it isn't easy because at the end of the day, I'm making a choice that will determine what my future may look like, both academically and career-wise. I'm glad that we at least have our emails as a way to communicate with the teachers and counselors. My friends, even though they aren't as qualified, make me feel like whatever I choose, wherever that may be, is perfect because of how supportive they are. These friends are all going to be away from me throughout college which may be the part that sucks the most. Still, somehow they manage to make a 2-hour drive upstate to see them seem exciting because of all the stories we'll have to listen to and tell each other about how the school is going even though we, already have made promises to each other that we'll FaceTime almost every day, even if we have to create a schedule. They help me cope through so much while this is going on, again solidifying the fact that they are one of the only reasons I haven't gone insane during the quarantine.
This quarantine has also helped me improve a lot personally. Before this, I was already someone who would prefer staying indoors, or maybe going out with a few friends over going out to a party, so this isn't too big of a change for me, but I do miss hanging out with my friends because being around them meant that I would rarely find myself bored. Now, during quarantine, I'm becoming more independent than I already was, which is saying something because I was already pretty independent. I've had no other choice but to find ways to entertain myself, and by doing that, I've been cooking and cleaning a lot more than I would usually be. I've also been taking this free time to make goals both for the time I have now and for after this is over. In a nutshell, quarantine has been both a torturous experience and an enlightening one for me.
My high school years have shaped me in ways I'm still coming to appreciate. Though I did spend most of these years complaining about all the homework and assignments, I can imagine myself sharing these memories and experiences with my kids in the future.
In light of COVID19 and also just from getting older and more mature, I'm starting to understand how dangerous our situation is right now. For the Class of 2020, the news of not being able to attend prom or graduation feels devastating. But just as others are finding ways to cope, I turn to music for comfort.
I've been obsessed with this song I heard a few months ago. As soon as I listened to this song, memories of my last three years of high school came rushing back to me. It's called To me by an underrated singer, Alina Baraz.This song means everything to me.
When I was a freshman, I came into high school, thinking that my friends from middle school would still be the same. Man, was I naive? Everyone changed the summer going into 9th grade. I was friends with about two of the people I was close to in middle school.
It wasn't until sophomore year where I realized that not only had everyone else changed, but I had too. I didn't t realize it. In a way, I grew up that summer entering 10th grade. It was the one where I learned to cut through the bull. Because of that lesson, I lost a few friendships that year, but I gained some new ones too.
That was the year I became best friends with Madeline. Funny enough, we became friends over a boy we both liked. Instead of arguing and hating each other as other girls would have. We bonded over the experience and the way we both reacted to the situation. Even after the boy was out of the picture, our friendship grew stronger and stronger. It's still growing to this day.
I never thought I'd be so close to a group of girls as I did throughout my sophomore and junior year. As a kid, I always gravitated towards the guys since I grew up knowing that girls were drama and guys were not. I had more guy friends than girlfriends and never thought I needed a female friend group. But during those years, I learned that not all girls live up to the stereotype of drama. Some girls avoid it. Sure we have our secrets and our issues like any other group would, but unlike those other groups we know how to keep stuff in our small circle.
Still, you can't keep one friend group forever. Towards the end of my junior year, my friend group expanded. We all became friends with a few more girls and a few guys. We became super close to one teacher who was like the father of the group. He's the one we all go to for advice. We may be closer to specific people within the group, but there's no jealousy between anyone. We all love each other and know that when we need each other, we'll be there for each other.
Senior year was my place to grow and mature. Though I thought I had already matured during junior year, I realized that you don't stop learning lessons that help you grow as a person. You don't stop meeting people who you begin to create memories with. People grow, people change, and that's okay. I learned that bad things in life are just as good as the good things. They make you stronger, and they teach you lessons so that those bad things don't happen again.
The number of times I have gotten hurt over the years, whether it be by losing a friendship, because of a guy or just family issues, is a lot. But I don't see those things and ask why they happen to me or do I deserve for these things to happen to me. Instead, I see them and think, "how can I learn from this experience." I've learned a lot of things throughout the years, and I know I'll keep learning just because it's a part of life.
"To me" speaks on these lessons and experiences in life and shows how one can appreciate them. The song raises a glass and proposes a toast to all of these memories, good or bad. Its chorus goes like this: "Here's to: good people, good nights, good highs, good health, some tears, some stress but, I count my blessings. Here's to: good music, great sex, little time to feel alive, little time to get it right."
The reality of it is, the things that happen to us in life are blessings we carry. No matter how much they hurt or make you smile, its lesson is the blessing. In a short life, you'll feel like there wasn't enough time to accomplish anything, but honestly if something were to happen to me right now, god forbid, I'd leave knowing I did the most I could've with the time I had.
I made amazing memories with amazing people and even some not so amazing people, but they were important at some point in my life nonetheless. I traveled as much of the world as I could've with trips to Paris, Italy, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and some cities in the United States. I live in New York City. The Big Apple! I got to live other people's dreams. I spent so much time with my family. I went through the worst and got myself back up. I lived.
The best thing you can have in life is the ability to appreciate everything because others might not be as lucky as you have been. The greatest lesson you can take from life is to live it.
I live in the Dyckman Projects in uptown New York City. While I’ve come to call this place home, it’s not the most nurturing environment for a young man to grow up in. When you add a pandemic to this environment, well then, it’s just all bad. You have to always be on alert and it’s hard to relax. My unit is right next to the stairway. At night, I’m often woken up by loud noises. The projects are setup so that you are always on guard and this is tiresome. The smell of marijuana is constant and sticks to the wall like paint. With COVID-19, I’ve had to find ways to escape mentally just to give myself a break from it all. Even when I have opportunities to leave, my parents often say it’s too dangerous to be out. My parents are really overprotective which means that we often argue about the smallest things like me leaving the house to buy food. At the end of the day, though, I know that they are doing the best they can with what they got.
Even though COVID-19 has really changed my life, I can appreciate the time I’ve had to focus on what’s next for me. I want to create a better path for my family. I want to disprove stereotypes about people who look like me and grow up in the projects. I want to prove to myself that I have what it takes to take care of my family no matter what obstacles I have to overcome. When I focus on these goals, I often recall my favorite book from English class with Mr. Garcia. In the poem “The Rose that Grew from Concrete,” Tupac Shakur writes “funny, it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned how to breathe.” To me, this metaphor speaks to how something beautiful can come from a tough environment like concrete. In order for this to happen, though. you have to believe in yourself and ignore the haters. Also, you must never take the easy way out.
To be honest, sometimes I see other guys in my neighborhood who have all the clothes and cars and I get angry about how unfair it is. Even with temptations and the negative stereotypes, I’m determined to hold on to my dream of finishing college and becoming a cop. Though cops are often in the news for bad things these days, I’ve had the opportunity to meet NYPD officers like Mr. Edward Reyes who looks out for people in the community. Officers like Mr. Reyes make this community a better, safer place for all of us. He earns respect the right way and lifts people up. I want to contribute to my community in the same way. Coming from where I'm from, I know that we need to improve some things around here. For example, recently this guy was shot and killed outside of my building minutes after I entered it. My mom was terrified. This is not the reality that I want for myself or my family. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely good people in the projects that have helped me out and encourage me but I know that I’ll be leaving this place for good soon.
When I’m posted up in my room for hours because of COVID-19, I reflect on my last four years at Inwood. I’m grateful to my coaches and the teachers who’ve treated me like their son. It’s weird to think about how different these two places are--school and home--and that I've spent most of the past four years going back and forth between these two worlds. But just as COVID-19 has been teaching us a lot about ourselves and how diseases work, I’ve learned important lessons in the projects. From the projects, I learned that the guys who take the easy way out always get caught up in drugs and violence. I’m proud of myself for being staying clear of all of that. I’m proud to be ending my high school career--finishing strong with a 3.0 GPA and a city-wide championship flag football trophy under my belt. At Inwood, participating in team sports taught me many lessons about perseverance, sportsmanship, and hard practice. Staying at practice until 8 or 9 pm became a normal occurrence. From volleyball, basketball, and football I learned how to focus on the end goal in order to get through the tiresome workouts. From my teachers and mentors, I learned that it’s never bad to ask for help and guidance.
Even though I still get mad about not having graduation and being stuck in this building due to COVID-19, I’m proud of all of us who are finishing up at Inwood and moving forward no matter what gets in the way. I know there will be many more challenges for us along the way and that sometimes we may feel like giving up.
Later on, in the same poem, Tupac writes, “Did you hear about the Rose that Grew from Concrete?” This rare occurrence is remarkable because everything has been set up for it to fail. Sometimes I feel this way as a resident of the Dyckman Projects. Tupac writes that the rose “proved nature’s laws wrong and learned how to walk without feet.” Like Tupac’s metaphor, I plan to prove people wrong and accomplish everything necessary to be the kind of man that protects and serves like Mr. Edward Reyes. I plan to prove all the stereotypes wrong and hopefully pay it forward when I make it. This time in quarantine has allowed me to prioritize my goals and take action. I'm ready to show the world that there's more to me than just a kid from the Dyckman Projects. I’m the rose that grew from the concrete. Not even COVID-19 can touch me.
by Rachelle Santos, 8th Grade
“The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people” is what President Trump said in a briefing on February 26, 2020. The coronavirus had its first few cases in China in late 2019. Soon after it spread fast to other countries around the globe. The United States is one of them with over 30,000 reported cases (as of the time this article was written). Many Americans are alarmed having to result in self-quarantine, social distance, and panic buying. Moreover, schools have been closed in the entire country impacting at least 55.1 million students. Despite Trump's efforts creating plans that will help against the coronavirus, his response was not the best because he did not take the disease seriously in the beginning and he is not responding to the situation quickly because he’s unsure of how to react to it.
Before the coronavirus hit the United States, Trump took it lightly. According to PBS NewsHour, “The president also said that this is going to get better in April, that, once it gets warm, things are going to get better.” Moreover, the article“What Governors Say About Trump’s Response to Coronavirus” by Richard Fausset and Julie Bosman states “Other members of his party have criticized him for confusing messages and a sluggish response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” This illustrates Trump’s little to no concern about the danger of the virus as he sees it as a small threat. In addition, he has been passive and has been trying to convince the public that it’s nothing to worry about, even though the coronavirus is new and people should be cautious.
Trump wasted time being indecisive when everyone depended on him. According to the Los Angeles Times, “One reason federal health officials took so long to act appeared to be Trump’s reluctance to declare a national emergency, which would have conflicted with his repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the epidemic”. We can also see Trump delaying important decisions in an article from PBS NewsHour, “But Republican leaders in Congress slowed the deal, wanting assurances that Trump would publicly support the agreement before signing off on it ahead of any vote.” This demonstrates how the solutions were not as effective since it was kind of too late. Furthermore, his lack of responsibility affected everyone since others can’t act before him which held back progress.
Some people think Trump is doing his best to deal with the situation regarding this terrifying disease. Evidence those arguing the other side might use is “Trump administration’s plan to send Americans relief money which includes payments totaling $500 billion, broken up into two tranches. The first one would be $1,000 per person, $500 per child.” as stated by CNBC News. This demonstrates his good intentions and desire to help. However, slowing the spread of the outbreak needs quick decision making which he failed to do. Based on the article “Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus” by the Associated Press on PBS NewsHour “Trump has not yet publicly backed the package, making its outcome uncertain in Congress, as he prepares his own response, which was still evolving in the hours before his press conference.” This represents poor effort as his role is important and everyone was waiting for him especially in the race against time.
Considering the fight with the coronavirus being a global pandemic that will take its place in history, it’s important to have the president take measures for this crisis. Trump did not do his job well since he didn’t see this as an emergency early on, as if the possibility that the virus will hit us is unlikely. However, realization came that this can come after anyone. Furthermore, if he would’ve responded faster, so much could have been done already and reduced the severity of the situation. This is important because if scarier things happen in the future and the President of our country doesn’t uphold his responsibility, we can be in serious danger. As Trump stated our health being his priority, his actions have a big influence on whether we become safe or not. The United States needs good leaders for a secure place to live in.
Out of nowhere a virus came
And took us by surprise
All the schools and stores closed for the night
A night that has lasted months with no end in sight
Maybe even a whole year
So many of us filled with fear
But we came together
At the most unlikely time
Knowing this will change our lives forever
We know we’re in it together
We are staying home
We are alone together
We still have hope
Cooking with each other
Creating delicious meals
Sometimes getting in our feels
Discovering things we didn’t know we could do
“Wait I can draw! That's new!”
Creating new playlists
Starting new YouTube channels
To pass the time
To spread the joy
Even though it might be weird
With the streets so clear
We have to remember
Things are going to go back to normal soon
But for now we are playing video games till noon
Holding onto hope that we will come out of this soon
Keeping our heads high and our minds strong
What Have I Become- Celine Gonzalez
I look so different
Why did it happen?
My shaven hair
My visible smile
My bubbly attitude
I finally feel better about myself
When I look at the mirror
I like what I see
It makes me happy
It could just be quarantine
But I like what I become
Even though I never thought it would happen.
What is that in the window?
Is that the sun?
It looks so new yet familiar.
The fluffy clouds,
The swaying of the trees,
And the warm breeze makes my heart light up with joy.
I would love to breathe in the clouds
Feel the sun beam in my face
But yet, the curtains are drawn.
That world I once knew is now gone
It’s too far away to get a grasp of it
Yet, it is so close to be in it
It was such a beautiful sight!
It’s too bad I might not see it again
Because it is outside.
I’m in a place that was my heaven and it's my dull hell
Trapped here and can never escape
Many ways to leave, but can never go
Stuck in a maze that is my home
And everytime I lay asleep, I try to talk in the world of silence that is my dreams
But they only respond with, “We are fine! No need to worry!”
But they don’t care that the silence and the darkness is consuming us
All they care about is trying to survive beneath the four walls
They don’t care about the hidden abyss they will find
They just want to see if they will live for one more day
It is what I call Isolation.
Video Games-Celine Gonzalez
It always puts a smile on my face
Even though I rage a bit
It’s oddly addictive
Is it hurting or helping us?
I don’t care, they will always be close to my heart
A fantasy universe where you have a quest to complete
Or a deeper story to find
No matter which one, it makes you want to forget the cruel reality that is life
But the best part is to restart
Either to replay memories
Or have a different story path
And we just want to live in that beautiful fantasy
But we can never restart
Because we aren’t in a video game.
We never knew about you,
We thought you never existed,
But here you are now.
Spreading lies on when you will leave,
Breaking people from the inside out,
The murders you committed,the lives you stole.
All we have is hope,
But you might never go,
Maybe you will never leave.
Even if you do leave,
there’s a chance you might come back.
In your nightmares, Celine Gonzalez
On January 1, 2020 at 12:00am the bells rang to indicate the beginning of a new year and a new decade. I was full of excitement as this new year was portrayed to be the best year for me! I am a senior at my middle school (Inwood Academy Charter School). I was looking forward to all the perks of being a senior, graduating middle school and going to high school. My mom had planned a wonderful family vacation to celebrate this accomplishment and I was hoping to attend the high school of my choice. All of this changed in March 2020 when coronavirus made its grand entrance into my life and changed it completely.
On March 13, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. This same day I learned that my school was going to be closed for the next three weeks and we were going to transition to remote learning. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Pause Act, which states that we are on lockdown and have to stay home unless you are an essential worker. At first, I was excited, it was like I was on vacation. I got to stay home and do my schoolwork online; how hard could that be? Oh, was I wrong. This was just the beginning of a scene in a horror movie.
The three weeks got extended to four and so on, until the Governor announced that we will be continuing remote learning for the rest of the school year. Getting used to this way of learning has been hard. I miss the interaction with my teachers and having fun with my friends. As you can guess the coronavirus cases kept rising and the Pause Act got extended. This caused my senior trip, prom and graduation to get canceled. Could it get any worse? Yes, my family vacation also got canceled. Hooray! There goes my summer, stuck at home with nothing to do. On a positive note, I got accepted to Columbia Secondary School which was my first choice on my high school application. It was about time for something good to happen.
Coronavirus has affected my life in many ways, but I must learn to live in this “new normal”. I need to wear a mask whenever I go out and practice social distancing. During these difficult times I have learned to love spending time with my brother and sister and playing games with my parents. I give thanks to God that my family and I are healthy and have food to enjoy, as this is not the case for many people out there. I hope this pandemic is over soon so I can enjoy the world as I know it.
During the month of May, 501 and 502 began keeping interactive class journals. The purpose of this activity was to encourage conversations with each other through writing. We noticed that students were missing each other and this felt like a great opportunity to continue our relationships and join the #InwoodWrites initiative. Each day, students receive a new prompt to reflect on. Some of the prompts are specific to our experiences at this time. Through our journals, students are able to share what is on their mind and hear from each other. This is helping us stay connected while we are apart! I feel very grateful that so many students are willing to share what is on their mind with us and I look forward to reading their writing every day.
For our blog feature, we decided to highlight a few students who had inspiring responses to the following prompt:
If you could have any superpower during this time, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superpower during this time, it would be to have the power to heal and stop COVID-19 from spreading. One of the reasons is because I don’t want my friends and family to lose their loved ones. A second reason is because I miss seeing my teachers, friends and family. I miss having a normal life and having the freedom to go out and play. That is why I chose my healing superpower.
Joshua Done, 501
If I were to have any superpower, it would be to find a cure to deadly diseases. I would want that super power because I want to save a lot of people’s lives. I just want to help a lot of people because a number of people are dying. I know that I wouldn’t want someone in my family to get sick or die. For example, I would want to find a cure for COVID 19 to save a lot of people. Or like the new cure that has been getting a lot of kids sick. I also would want to find the cure for that too because I really like helping people because it makes me happy.
Jaylene Pina, 501
If I had to have power during this time, my superpower would be to be invincible. Because it would be really good to be invincible that way you don't get sick. Also, imagine how useful I could be if I couldn't get sick. Plus, it would be really helpful because I could help people get food and give people masks without worrying about getting sick. In conclusion, I would be doing a lot for others and I'm helping people.
Amaraya Herrera, 502
This year might be the worst one yet. At first, it seemed unbelievable and somewhat funny. I initially enjoyed looking at memes about the COVID-19 and sending them to friends. That was just in the beginning, though. The seriousness of this whole thing took time to sink in. Even when school was canceled as a safety measure, my friends and I celebrated the news. We cheered for our new freedom and independence. We didn't realize at the time what social distancing meant and how it would impact us. We didn't know we'd be losing access to the only place we had to gather and be ourselves: IALCS. We didn't realize that NYC would be the "epicenter" of the virus.
The hardest part has been not being able to gather with friends. Ever since I can remember, having school canceled was good news. The best news ever. In my younger years, I took it upon myself to cancel school by making up excuses that never seemed believable to my mom. This school cancellation is different, though. This is forced isolation. I mean, I have started learning new ways to manage my time and committed to learning how to cook finally. But it's hard to plan every second of the day. Honestly, sometimes I don't feel like doing much. It seems like motivation is hard to come by these days. The funny thing is that our class was planning a secret prom on the low, but now it's no secret that everything is cancelled. I feel bad for the group of students who put in time and energy to plan this secret prom only to have everything ruined. Another interesting thing is that our year (2020) would always feel superior to underclassmen since we felt like we were the "last of the old generation" at IAL. We felt that we had all the fun memories and experiences that the younger kids did not go through. We took pride in this unique status, but now we have to come to terms with getting dealt a terrible hand. We have to accept online celebrations and alternative events. I know it's no one's fault, and my mom says I shouldn't compare experiences, but I guess I just wanted the whole traditional prom and graduation. I know I can't be angry at anyone and that no one wanted this to happen, but it's still hard to accept. I'm so tired of doing the same thing. All I do is wake up, do my homework then play online because that's the only way my friends and I get to bond aside from studying together.
I want to go back to how things were before. I wonder what it'll feel like when we are finally able to go out again. Will it feel like taking our first steps again? Will we forget what it's like to be social? For seniors, these first steps back into the world might be after our scheduled graduation or even after our college semester was supposed to start. It's weird not having college tours or orientations before having to decide on your final choice.
On the positive side, I've connected with my family more due to all the time we spend with one another. I try to remember that this is just a few months out of four years, and I shouldn't let COVID-19 define my high school experience. On that note, I want to thank all my teachers at IAL for supporting me even when things got rough. I especially want to thank my closest friend, Edgar Sanchez. Thanks for showing me how to never back down from anything and for giving me the courage to be social in school. I know that I can sometimes be moody and rude. Even so, you always have my back and bring positivity wherever you go. For some reason, I found myself thinking about how you'd stay with me afterschool in 10th grade when I had to complete missing work. You were there basically every day when you could've just gone straight home. You waited and supported. You kept telling me to keep my head up and try my best at school. Just like brothers, you and I argue, share food, and always find a way to laugh through the hard stuff. You're my brother from another mother. Just as you've been there for me, I'll always have your back. Having friends like you makes this whole thing more manageable. That's all, and also, you're banned from making fun of me because of this shout out. Though we aren't in school physically, I know that these types of friendships were born at IAL. The past two months and the next few weeks will not define my high school career. Inwood Academy will always be the place where I challenged myself and found my own "crew." Prom or no prom, I will always be grateful for the lessons and friends that IAL gave me.
As the country adjusts to the "new normal" with COVID-19, we've gotten better at this whole social distancing thing. Spectrum News recently reported that Florida, among many other states, has required online learning modules for students of all ages, with some class lectures going as long as forty minutes (Turco). Of course, we can all appreciate the efforts that schools are making to keep youth engaged while also preventing the virus from spreading and infecting more people. Teachers have gotten very creative with their tactics for getting the attention of students. For example, a recent USA Today article spotlighted a teacher named Kalpana Sharma who has taken her lessons to live TV. This is to provide opportunities for students without internet at home to view the class materials.
Without a doubt, the way schools have adapted to our new normal is impressive. The way teachers are using technology is a step in the right direction. Inwood Academy is an excellent example of schools adapting quickly and evolving based on how students respond. We began our online learning phase almost immediately, while many schools in other states took weeks to put something together for kids. Many teachers have sent out surveys to figure out how kids are adjusting and what we need from them. My advice to teachers everywhere is commonsense and straightforward: remember that what is happening right now is not "normal" and many students are facing new challenges with less support. Though I find it easier to concentrate by myself at home, distance learning does not necessarily mean more free time for everyone. As I think about my friends, I realize that we are all reacting to these changes differently. But we all agree that it can be overwhelming to balance house chores, schoolwork, and life in general. Teachers must think carefully about the amount of work being assigned. Sometimes teachers forget that teenagers have real responsibilities outside of homework.
Through conversations with friends in other schools and my cousins in other states, I've realized that some teachers are merely continuing the plans they had before COVID-19 struck. This will not work for a variety of reasons, including a lack of in-person support and independent learning challenges. All schools across the country should be making adjustments based on the mental health of students. Many of my peers are now caring for sick relatives, exposing themselves through new jobs to make ends meet, or babysitting siblings while parents go to work.
I guess my point is that there is no "new normal." There exist only "new" challenges for teenagers to overcome. As we learn to balance the different needs of schools and students, we must remember that health comes first. Don't forget that the best learning happens when students are happy and healthy. Being a teenager is already hard. Shout out to my teachers who try to incorporate my feedback when making new assignments. I'll miss you when I graduate soon!
by Jency Carmona, 8th Grade
Coronavirus or CoV is a large family of viruses that generally affect the respiratory system and cause symptoms ranging from a common cold to much severe ones such as SARs (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Coronavirus disease or Covid-19 is a new strain within this viral family. Due to its rapid spread, it is hard to say if it’s only airborne or can it be transmitted via physical contact to infected droplets. Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease was discovered in 2019. It was not previously identified in humans until then. This disease is rapidly spreading. This rapid spread is causing an increase in remote work and school. Remote means distant or having little to no physical contact with the population. In order to contain the spread and decrease the number of newly infected individuals, remote work and learning has been established. Some people think remote learning is better than going to school because it can save money and time and it's very convenient and some don't agree. Although some people think remote learning is better because it provides the comfort of your home, schools should not continue remote learning because of the increased temptation of doing other things and not school work. Also technology may malfunction causing problems.
Schools should not continue distant (remote learning) because of the increased temptation of doing other things and not school work. According to EZ Talks, “Learning in a brick-and-mortar institution presents students with the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different locations on a personal level.” This means students are used to seeing people from other classes but are now limited to their class due to remote learning. Also according to India Education, "Distance education is not a good idea if you tend to procrastinate and can't stick to deadlines” This means some people are too lazy/ irresponsible to do remote learning and stick to it, and go do other things instead like play games. In conclusion this together means some people are too lazy to do their work and prefer playing the games that are surrounding them.
Furthermore schools should not continue distant learning because technology can malfunction in any given time. According to India Education, “Any malfunctioning software or hardware can bring an ongoing class to a standstill and interrupt the learning process." This means if your laptop turns off the whole class would have to wait for you to reset your laptop and join the class again. Lastly, according to India Education, "Similarly, if a student is not computer or tech savvy, his learning experience can be dissatisfactory." This means if the student does not know how to use a laptop well he may find his experience terrible and cancel his subscription and would not be able to go to school in person. In conclusion, this means if a student does not know how to use a computer he may slow down the class and his time on the computer will be horrible.
People think remote learning is better because you don't have to get up and go outside. According to the Distance Learning College Guide, "This saves you money and time that you would otherwise spend on travel back and forth to school. You can schedule learning around other aspects of your personal and professional life.” This means instead of spending 20+ dollars to get to school you pay 10 dollars for the online class saving travel money. Lastly according to Master's Degree research, "You make your own studying schedule during the time the course is given." This means the student can save extra money and they can study and do school on their bed and anywhere as long as you have the internet. However a lot of places don't have internet but if they do you have to pay for it. Also if you are using the public internet you may get hacked letting your privacy get exposed. Lastly when given the material directly you gain a better understanding of the lesson cause a lot of people learn in different ways.This means some people may not understand what is being taught because they don't see it, feel it, or hear it
In conclusion when you, the student is doing distant learning you risk losing your data, slowing down other people and your laptop or computer can malfunction. While risking that you also risk your internet crashing making your experience horrible. People should go to school because, even though you pay extra money to get to school you get a better education and experience. If you do online school with all that in place, going to school in person is a better choice.
As we navigated the overwhelming and sometimes rocky transition to remote learning, students (and teachers) at the middle school were processing a number of thoughts and emotions. The transition coincided with our 8th Grade ELA argumentative essay unit. In the unit, students were asked to choose a controversial topic and develop a well-researched thesis-driven argument around that topic. For some students, this allowed them to engage with the world around them, thoughtfully processing the new realities of the pandemic and its repercussions. For others, it allowed them the opportunity to escape, diving deep into a subject area interesting to them, but not at related to this new normal. We were extremely impressed by the submissions and found a few of them to be particularly relevant.
As a part of #InwoodWrites, we would like to feature some of the 8th grade argumentative essays. We will be focusing on featuring writing that responds directly to issues related to the pandemic. In a cultural moment when opinions are often presented as facts, I find it imperative to point out that each of these essays represent the opinions of each individual student. The students’ writing should, in no way, be seen as representative of the point of view Inwood Academy or myself (although it might be hard not to agree with them after an initial read).
Dear Ms. Karen Cardosa,
I couldn't let Teacher Appreciation Week pass without reaching out to you. I want you to know that meeting you has been one of the most pleasant experiences of my life. I consider you a mentor, but most of all, a ray of sunshine whose light and warm-heartedness will forever impact my character. Through your teaching and mentoring, I gained the privilege of meeting one of the most vibrant individuals in our city. I soon noticed how your openness and expressiveness began to influence my own personality. You encouraged this once shy and reserved young man to get out of his comfort zone.
Even with your unmatched personality, it was your story that captivated me the most. Not just your ability to withstand adversity but also your ability to make those experiences stepping stones for a brighter future. To say that you've influenced me would be an understatement.
Now that I look forward to my freshman year at New York University, I feel excited to bring my full personality to campus. I know I owe this newfound confidence and risk-taking abilities to you. Having met your daughter, I can already see that she has this same spark and curiosity that I admire in you. I know that she, too, will inherit the spirit that makes you such a profoundly impactful teacher. Thank you a million times.
This is what a family looks like. This is what going to Inwood Academy looks like. The idea of family is built into our chant. For those of us who play sports for Inwood Academy, the following words are ingrained in us: “1,2,3 FAMILY 4,5,6 TRAILBLAZERS!” In this picture, I’m huddling with my basketball teammates who also are my family. We’ve built bonds on and off the court. Whether the outcome was smoking teams by 90 points or losing very close games by just 10 points, we all stepped onto that court with the goal of bringing home another IAL basketball championship.
About a month before the season started, I suffered an ankle injury that threw off my plans for the season. At first, I performed with adrenaline and pushed through. I kept it to myself. Before I knew it, standing up felt like being hit with a bat. My coaches set me aside and spoke with me about the importance of physically healing. They said I had a responsibility to only perform at my best and that involved taking a break. I missed four home games and missed being with my family. But even when injured, my teammates supported me like family.
Throughout the process, I realized that my injury was teaching me about patience and new ways to stay connected with my IAL family. I know that there is no storm that God won’t help me through. My coaches supported me as I recovered and many teammates reached out with updates and pictures from games. They checked up on me and kept my spirits up when I felt like I was letting the team down. Even when I wasn’t on the court, they made me feel like a valued player. If you can’t call that a family, then I honestly don't know what is. I’m proud to call myself a Trailblazer and Inwood Academy senior. Best place ever.
This submission Is brought to you from Ms. Ines Garcia's 9th grade virtual classroom. Students are encouraged to use poetry as a way to process current events and connect with peers through shared work.
The poem below was written by 9th grader Salma Garden for an assignment exploring the stylistic features of House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Guided by ENL teacher Ms. Geraldine Rodriguez, this activity challenges students to create poetry mirroring literary characteristics found in the text's varied vignettes.
As it is that a single color can express so many things in a glance, it must be as
the saying says the eyes are the looks of the soul. The most common trait in my
family is the color of eyes being in its majority that we all have brown eyes of a
very dark tone like night in the case of the father dark eyes like night, on the
other side of the maternal side there are a variety of colors from dark brown
eyes to light green eyes as in a garden with different plants.All with a different
look, a great variety as big as that of a garden.
A tender dark look on the part of my little sister, a look that reflects tenderness
and curiosity for the world around her, it is still a small flower in this family,
then there is the innocent and vivid look of my little sister on the father's side despite its dark color, like a beautiful flower full of life, displays its petals with pride and liveliness, that pride to look at is that of a flower that is almost as
blooming as I am.
There are the looks of my father, who gave them the gift of life, we have a
mature and determined look of a beautiful flower that gives off passion, and
elegance that flower is my mother that her mature look. On the other hand,
this other dark look like the night but that transmits a soft warmth and joy, a
look full of joy that my father's gaze.
Already seeing various glances from tender buds to ripe flowers full of life, the
last flower that I will speak to you about today touches, me, one more look at
the family garden, a look like dark chocolate, an intense look, and something
ripe , but even without fully maturing, it is a flower that bloomed recently that
extends without petals gently waiting anxiously for the future.
Since it's teacher appreciation week, I want to honor the IAL alumni coordinator, Hazel Pina. Though you're not my teacher inside a classroom, you've taught me so much through coaching and mentoring me these past few years. In addition to the work you do with seniors and college students, you make time to coach an entire cheerleading team and help us through hard situations in life. Thank you so much for being the kind of coach that challenges and supports us. I know that I can always count on you to have my back no matter what I am dealing with.
You are one of the most determined and passionate people I’ve ever met. As I reflect on my senior year, I am truly so thankful to have you in my corner. You are the definition of going above and beyond. When it came time to work on my college essay and applications, you didn't think twice about walking me through each step and proofreading all my essay drafts. Even with CO-VID 19, you've consistently checked in to make sure I'm staying on track and keeping my life together. If it wasn't for you, I'd be entirely lost with everything right now. We appreciate you and everything you do for us. #LetsGoTrailBlazers
By Jazlyn Villaman, 8th Grade
With nearly 190,000 confirmed CO-VID19 cases, New York City leads the nation's fight against coronavirus. In March, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio decided to close all public schools until April 20th. Schools should stay closed until we determine what works and what does not. Without a cure available, it's important for students and staff to prioritize health and safety. As we know, schools are hotspots because kids can get sick very easily and spread their germs to others who come from different areas of the city. While school closures will leave some students struggling to do work from home, the decision is good for the longterm and might even prepare you for remote learning tasks in college.
In a recent article by the New York Post, Julia Marsh writes that "the mayor had been still stubbornly repeating his opposition to the move, insisting he was 'very resistant' to shut down the largest school system in the country because of such things as leaving health care and emergency services workers scrambling for child care.” On the other hand, an article in Science Magazine by Jennifer Couzin Frankel predicted that “closing schools is likely to be a major step in slowing the spread of COVID-19 among students, staff members, and those around them. These quotes show both sides of the situation. Even though it's not an easy change, our current data supports that closing schools in New York keeps students safe from the virus and protects others in the community.
Aside from the health-related importance of distance learning, learning from home will help students work in a different way. According to a recent article in Purdue University Global , “the convenience and flexibility of online learning allows you to study any time, virtually anywhere you have an internet connection." The article suggests that this type of learning environment is
an "ideal solution" for people who benefit from flexible schedules. For example, online learning makes it easy for you to pause for a break or replay content to refresh your memory. This is important because not everyone learns in the same way. A recent article in The Community College Review claims that "not only do students learn in different ways, but they learn at different paces as well.” Though many students will find it hard to transition, these sources help highlight the benefits of remote learning such as reduced stress and flexible opportunities. Furthermore, online learning is useful because it prepares you for the future. Most importantly, it's just safer for everyone involved.
Some people oppose closing NYC schools because it’s something unexpected. The New York Times recently noted that “there is also the obvious downside of disruptions to education. Some schools can move to online learning, but not all are prepared. Not all students have access to the internet at home, let alone computers or devices with which they can actively participate in e-learning.” However these positions do not consider the benefits of remote learning. Learning from home works for students who struggle in school sometimes and is better for some people's emotional health. Remote learning allows students to decide the pace and time they want to dedicate to the work for themselves.
Due to the data available about how coronavirus spreads and the technological advantages of the modern day, schools in New York should stay closed. This stance is best for students who will learn better knowing they are safest at home. Students in New York City can practice new skills for studying and learning that works for them. Before, we only had one option: traditional classroom teaching. Though some people will argue that learning from home will cause students to struggle, we should consider how remote learning is forcing us to use technology in a way that prepares students for the future. Today, our city has had more deaths than any other in the United States. This likely includes students and teachers. Returning to schools can contribute to more losses. There are still many questions about the virus that even the experts have not figured out. The best learning happens when you are healthy and safe. For New York City, right now that means staying home and opening your Chromebook.
This is how I see COVID-19: not a virus but a lesson, not a holdback but a pause to catch up. And not "the worst thing that has happened to me," but instead as an eye-opener. As humans, we tend to live life in a hurry and lose sense of the most essential pieces of this big puzzle we call life. The business of working on ourselves--growth. Tell me, when was the last time you truly had time for yourself? I bet you can't think of a precise moment, right? Many are saying that this virus has ruined our lives because we can't go outside and socialize. Yes, of course, this caught us off guard. But we cannot look at this whole thing as a "punishment." You have to change your mindset. The inability to go outside is an opportunity to catch up on sleep, discover a new hobby, or do any of those million things you were always too busy to start. For example, what if you took this time to learn a language that has always appealed to you.
Have you taken time to read about what's going on with this home of ours since we've been away, and by our home, I mean this planet? Earth has been reported as cleaner and more hospitable to animals since factories are closed and fewer people are out to litter. Animals have been spotted thriving in surprising areas. These living creatures are less afraid to exist and roam since humans are not taking up all the space. Earth and animals are finally taking a well-deserved break from all the toxicity that we impose on them. So we should take a break, just the same. This virus has been a lesson to all humans in other ways as well. Before this, most of us wouldn't worry about being sick around others or prioritizing our hygiene-- washing our hands for at least 20 seconds, taking care of the world we live in not only for ourselves but for those around us. These lessons may seem small but are pretty important. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not been easy. That's not what I am saying. But it has definitely brought more than just "punishment" to humans. The more we listen to scientists and doctors, the faster we will understand what we're dealing with and get back to something like before. My advice: when you notice yourself being negative on a loop and not seeing anything else, make yourself see the goodness. They say God gives His toughest battles to the strongest soldiers. He won't let His children fall. Stay strong, positive, and healthy. Together we will rise from this.
The pandemic is changing our society. Mainly, I've been noticing that the way we communicate is evolving. I've found different ways to stay connected. I use my PS4 or any social media platform to reach out. Using my PS4 is useful. I say that because not only are you able to talk with your friends and check up on them but also have fun. I try to check up on my friends every two days or so. Just to make sure that they're holding up alright and know that I am here if they need anything. What I miss most of being physically connected is just seeing them face to face.
Being able to bother them and yell their names so that they have no choice but to turn around and laugh. I miss our roast sessions where we could be ourselves without anyone telling us not to. This whole pandemic has already had a significant impact, especially for seniors. This was the year for us to go out with a bang. But all of that is a distant reality, and we have to work from home. School is an escape for most of us because some of us don't wanna be home. We consider our friends our family because they accept us for who we are. They won't judge us or make us do something we don't want to do. This is why Inwood Academy is special to me and so many others. No matter what people do, there's no replacing that. I mean, we do appreciate the efforts, but there's no way around the truth,
Inwood is probably one of a handful of places where I feel comfortable being myself. It was my home. I felt at home with my friends. I even called the staff members, my friends, because we've grown so used to each other's company. Whether we are in class, lunch, or the hallways, we always found ways to make a little fun. Some people don't go home because they feel trapped in a space that they are not allowed to express themselves. Sometimes parents try to change their kids into other versions that aren't true to who they are. Kids, especially teenagers, are going through a time when this is all they experience. Being at home might seem like a good idea, but staying too long will eat away at you. At school, we talked about everything and anything without expectations. My friends would say things like "what if we lived in a simulation" or "why has everything bad happened after 2016." You know, hypothetical and random conversations that always end up somewhere unexpected but always with laughter you feel in the belly. I swear my friends are some of the most hilarious people in NYC and also the silliest. But even with everything going on, we still find ways to connect.
When I used to go out, I would just walk around NYC and just enjoy the fresh air. I would appreciate the sights and smells of the streets, the fragrance of food being cooked up on Dyckman. From Pastellitos to colorful cups of fruit being sold, there almost seemed to be a buffet somewhere to be explored. "Pastelitos para un peso" which means "pastelitos for a dollar." Hearing music blasting from apartments or people's cars. This, I miss. The streets were never quiet. Dyckman is a glorious and endless experience to take in. But right now, we are removed from this. And it hurts to have these things missing. Seeing the city that never sleeps takes a rest seems really weird. Not hearing idiots rev their cars up for attention while everyone quietly judges feels off. Not hearing moms disciplining children on their walks back from school feels unsettling. The new norm is quiet, I guess. But I know this can only go on for a bit longer. It's just who we are--lively and full of noise. We will soon return the outdoors and rediscover our face-to-face relationships with friends. Honestly, I can't wait. It's going to be action-packed, spilling over laughter and moms yelling for the first few days. We will bring back the noise, the sounds, and the life to our streets. Wait and see.