The COVID Conundrum
Alexis Joy Viloria | Maui High SchoolNow a pandemic, COVID-19 has changed the lives of many around the globe since its emergence in December of 2019. Originating in Wuhan, China, the mobility of today’s society has made the spread of the virus not only easier but more widespread. As of early April, over a million cases were reported, including the United States with the highest number of cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy, previous epicenters of the virus. In efforts to flatten the curve, many states have encouraged their residents to practice social distancing and self-quarantine, putting events on hold and closing many establishments. The establishments closed include schools across Hawai‘i.
The uncertainty of the virus and its impact on student life has left many wondering, “What next?” This is especially true for our Seniors. After four years of long nights, due dates, and hard work, the virus has left high school seniors wondering if they could even enjoy the event that they dedicated so much to—graduation. In this time of isolation, Seniors ponder what will come out of all this chaos.
Nicole Anne Guzman, a senior at Maui High School, looks back on her initial reaction to the virus. “At first I thought the coronavirus wasn’t going to be something to worry about because I heard studies showing that the mortality rate is only about 2–3 percent.” Within a few weeks though, Nicole started to realize the reality of it all. “A few weeks have passed and I didn’t think it would get this serious but now it is considered a pandemic.” When the Department of Education started to extend spring break and close schools across the state, Nicole began to go into a state of shock. However, Nicole says “I understand since safety is first and the DOE are just taking precautions to reduce the amount of those who are infected with the virus.” An avid member of Maui High School’s Colorguard and Winterguard, Nicole was looking forward to ending her last season with a bang at the annual Maui High School Band Spring Concert, canceled in light of the pandemic. “I was anticipating my last winter guard show as I have been a part of the Maui High School Colorguard for the past four years,” Guzman says. However saddening it may be to miss the last performance of her guard career, there is one major event that she was anticipating over anything. “Most importantly, I was looking forward to graduation. I have been waiting my whole life to walk on the line and be lei’d from my neck up along with the rest of my class.” Although she may be missing the rest of her senior year, Nicole treats this experience as a lesson and offers some advice for upcoming seniors. “I highly suggest to make it the best one yet. It is your last year so participate in every spirit week, go to school games and be nice to those around you, you’ll never know what is going to happen. This year is a great example of how you should never take anything for granted.” After everything, Nicole thinks that “It would be hard to go back to ‘normal’ because people will be more cautious with one another. However, I hope the situation that we are in right now is a great lesson of not taking anything for granted and appreciate those who are around you and those who are risking their lives right now during this crisis.”
Mark Berzabal, a senior, shares his take on the coronavirus’s arrival. “My initial reaction to the coronavirus was that it wasn’t a big deal and it would just be a funny meme we could look back on. I never predicted it would be as serious as it is now and it really caught me off guard.” A committed athlete and member of the Maui High Boys Varsity Track team, Mark saw how serious the virus would be when it affected sports practices and events across the state. “I started realizing that the coronavirus would take a toll on my senior year when they started extending our spring break and canceled all of our sports practices.” While he hoped he could finish his last season of track, Mark also looks at the reality of it all. “The thoughts that came in my head were honestly hoping to get back and practice but also realizing how hard it’ll be to bounce back into the sport with so little facilities available for many people around the island.” Before everything, all Mark wanted to do was enjoy the season with his team. “Something I was looking forward to my senior year was attending all the track meets we had scheduled and just honestly having a good time with my teammates and coaches.” Even as the rest of his final year of high school is put on hold, Mark reflects on what he already did to enjoy his senior year. “Some great memories I have of my senior year were attending football and basketball games with my friends because we all really like sports, watching and cheering super loud with them made it very worthwhile,” says Berzabal.
Aubrey Santiago, also a senior at Maui High School, recounts what she first thought of coronavirus. “When the topic of the coronavirus started to be publicized, especially on the news, it felt unreal. I didn’t know at the time that it would become so big and would affect so many people.” Not expecting the impact it would have on the world, Aubrey shares the feeling that the subject ignites in her. “I get sad at times just thinking about it and watching the news has become an evening norm at my house. I had a feeling that it would get serious and overwhelming around the world because of how easy it is contracted, but I just hope that everyone who was affected recover and numbers start to decrease!” With the situation escalating so quickly, Aubrey was suddenly hit with news she never would have expected. “I think that the idea of the coronavirus taking a toll on my senior year only had hit me the weekend before us students were supposed to go back to school the following week,” Santiago says. An active student around the school, Aubrey and her peers dealt with all of the last minute cancellations due to the virus. “Almost all the emails that I was getting were pushbacks from school-start dates to extracurricular event cancellations. I was devastated.” With much still not known about the virus, all of the news left Aubrey wondering what would come next. “The uncertainty to what’s left of my senior year and not having the heads up of that last day before Spring Break to be my ‘last day’ as a senior makes me nervous yet optimistic about what is to come in the future.” On an optimistic note, Aubrey looks at the best parts of her time during this school year. “My best memories of my senior year would probably revolve around all the people that I have met and come to form such strong relationships with. Over the course of four years, I have really gotten out of my shell and come to know amazing people!” Aubrey has high hopes for humanity after the situation comes to a close. “I hope that this brings into light how important self-care, health-wise, is and to appreciate all of the healthcare workers that make a difference in our lives. It will be a slow reopening of everything, but hopefully, everyone will have a sense of relief that it’s over.”
It is no doubt the Class of 2020’s senior year is not turning out as expected but the positivity heading into this situation will be worth the effort. The coronavirus has altered daily life with its worldwide effects. In order to nurse the Earth’s population back to health, it is everybody’s duty to stay inside to flatten the curve. Missing out on significant events they’ve been waiting all their lives for, this year’s seniors know that it will be tough to deal with but in the end, it’s all about being able to get through it for the sake of their community and the world.
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes that education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Alexis Joy Viloria, a Junior at Maui High School. She is the founder and President of Maui High’s SaberScribes, their journalism club. Alexis is also a committed member of HOSA-Future Health Professional as the Secondary Representative of the Hawai‘i HOSA Executive Council and a state gold medalist. Alexis hopes to one day become a Pediatric Physician. She is the daughter of Alex and Juvy Viloria.