COVID-19 impacts high school seniors and staff at Okemos High

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COVID-19 negative effects

“For my first day of class, I was in my unfinished Michigan basement at a desk from like the ’90s with my laptop and a lamp,” said Brendon Warren, a senior at Okemos High School. “I sat there and thought, man, this year is already hard.” 

Like Warren,  there are an estimated 1 million students in Michigan who must attend school remotely this year, as reported by MLive in August. Xavier Zeller, another senior at Okemos, said taking classes on Zoom can be distracting and makes it difficult to enter a “school mindset.” 

“This year has been pretty tough for me because although I think the work has been easier, the workload has been harder,” Zeller said. “It all feels like busywork leading up to the next quiz. It’s also been hard to stay focused in class because my classroom has been my bedroom this year.” 

Andrew Floyd, a German teacher at Okemos High School, said despite difficulties with the online format, teachers and students have said there are some silver linings to this unprecedented school year.

“I know some teachers state and nationwide are struggling to conduct useful Zoom lectures with their students,” Floyd said.

“My students have been doing pretty well for the most part,” Floyd said, “I teach 15 hours a day, which is a little stressful at times. But I’ve been in close contact with my students via email and have tried to pull as many online resources I can to help them succeed.”

COVID-19 positive outcomes

For Warren and Zeller, who both play for the Okemos football team, football has been their escape from the stress of online classes.

“I don’t know what I do without football this year, because most of everything else for my senior year has been canceled or will be canceled,” Warren said. “So, this was it and although we haven’t had a ton of wins yet at least we’re playing.” 

During a school year setting where face to face contact is at a minimum, Zeller is looking for all the time he can get to see his friends, and feel a little more normal this year. Football has been Zeller’s outlet to humanity and his symbol of hope during the online school year that awaits before him.

“It’s been really great to see Brandon as much as I have because of football,” Zeller said.“I didn’t think I was gonna be able to see any of my friends this year, which kind of sucks because it’s my senior year and this isn’t how I imagined it looking so I am really grateful for playing on the team this year and that we are playing this year.”

While the pressures of senior year can already be stressful for any normal year and any normal student, this is not a normal year. The class of 2021 is living through a time that will be talked about for generations, and one day, students just like Zeller and Warren will be learning the COVID-19 pandemic and how the students in 2020 made it through. 

“This year presents its own set of challenges,” Floyd said, “but my fellow staff members and I are definitely putting our best foot forward on making this year as fun, and educational as possible and have high hopes for this year.”

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