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Students from Baker Prairie Middle School and Ninety-One School answer questions on life during pandemic

ARTWORK BY LUCIA ANDERSON - Baker Prairie Middle School student Lucia Anderson describes through art what life is like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders, we have heard from the public health organizations, the governor, local authorities and more. Now is the chance to hear from Canby's middle schoolers.

It is probable the 2020 pandemic will make its way into future history lessons, and Canby's middle school social studies teachers wanted to find a way for their students to potentially contribute to those lessons.

"Today, we use journals from 1918 to understand the influenza pandemic of 1918, and in the future, we will use similar sources to make sense of what we are experiencing today," said Jaime Vega Gómez, dual language social studies teacher at Baker Prairie Middle School. "That's why Baker Prairie Middle School and Ninety-One School social studies teachers decided to have students reflect on what life looks like right now for them."

"Odd things I have noticed since quarantine are how often people wash their hands now. Did they not do this before?" — Romario Vargas

Students answered an array of questions from "What's a typical day like right now?" to "How will this pandemic change the world?" Here are some of their answers. (Some students will be named with parent permission, while other students will remain anonymous.)

Teachers: What is your biggest fear or concern?

Eighth-grader: I have two big concerns. One is that we will never find the cure for the coronavirus and it will be like this for a very long time. My other concern is a big one. In the beginning of April, I found out that my mom has the virus. She's having a really hard time. I know that she is strong enough to make it through this, but I'm worried about my brother. He is 2 and has cancer. Because of his chemo, his immune system is really weak so if he gets coronavirus, he most likely wouldn't make it. But my family is taking extra precautions to make sure he and my mom stay safe.

Bailie Inskeep: One thing that I'm scared of is high school. I was so incredibly excited for high school. I had tryouts for the cheer team and was going to sign up for any and all theater programs. But now that COVID-19 has happened, I have seen things change, and I fear that high school just won't be the same. CDC has a lot of rules that they want the schools to follow but it is going to ruin my freshman year.

Eighth-grader: My biggest fear right now is going to the high school. Since all the tours and introductions were canceled, I don't know the school at all and I'm afraid I'll get lost. Also, I'm afraid of my grandparents catching the coronavirus.

"My biggest fear is losing someone I love." — Enrique Zurita

Enrique Zurita: My biggest fear is losing someone I love.

Kali Mull: One of my biggest fears is about the future. I am scared about what I am missing/what I am going to miss. I am scared that I am missing out on some learning for high school and that when I go next year I will not be prepared for my classes and have to go down a level. I am also scared that I am missing swim training and when I go back I will be so out of shape that I will never fully come back to how fast I should have been/where I need to be to accomplish my goals. I am also scared that I will miss more learning, swimming and just important moments in general. At the end of the day I just need to remind myself that everyone is in the same situation and that it will all be OK in the end.

ARTWORK BY PARKER T. ACKERMAN - Baker Prairie student Parker T. Ackerman offers some words of encouragement during the stay-at-home orders.

Seventh-grader: A concern I have is if we will have sports again. The world is more boring without sports. Another concern is for the future if my family is going to have jobs or if we will have enough money to survive. I'm also worried about how we're going to get our education in the next few years. 

Seventh-grader: My biggest concern is that even after the coronavirus a ton of people will continue to be unemployed. This is very scary for a lot of people, and makes me nervous not only for these people, but also for their families.

Eighth-grader: My biggest concern right now is wondering when my dad is going to be able to get a flight home from Afghanistan. My dad has been stuck in Afghanistan for two, almost three months. It is hard for me and my family to be quarantined without my dad because we don't know when he is able to come home.

Teachers: Describe the moment this hit you.

Ashley May: The moment this all hit me was when I was laying in my bed and my mom came up to my room. She told me the trip to Korea that I was supposed to go on was canceled. I was in shock and devastated. I had no idea it was this big of a deal.

ARTWORK BY ALEX SMITH - Baker Prairie Middle School student Alex Smith reminds people of the common chime during the COVID-19 pandemic: 'Stay home. Stay safe.'Jacob McCulloch: The moment this really hit me was when I was walking through the store. I saw everybody with masks on and gloves and nobody was brave enough to actually GO IN the store. I went back home to the news that we are out for a few months. At first, I thought, 'OH, YEAH, VIDEO GAMES AND TV FOR THE NEXT 3 MONTHS.' A few days in, I realized how happy my life was with friends and how excruciatingly boring it is without them.

Eighth-grader: It hit me when the governor announced that school would be canceled for the rest of the year and when she put down the stay-at-home order. I was excited about it at first because who wouldn't be excited about not having to go to school? But now I'm just sick of it.

Olyvia Gilmore: The moment it hit me was when everyone was telling me I might not even finish the school year. I was really shocked, and I started realizing that it wasn't a joke. When they did end up canceling school, I was really surprised. They also canceled "Frozen" on Broadway, and it made me angry but was a wakeup call.

Teachers: What's a typical day like right now?

Anna Hawkins:

A Day

A day you say?

I'll give you a day

There is a schedule we must follow

The breakfast we swallow

The beds we make

The messes we make

School work is done

We play in the sun

Now dinner is ready

It's bedtime already.

Jessica Frahm: A typical day in quarantine for me is very unplanned and random. Usually I stay up till 2 so that when my cat needs to come in, I can let her in; then she sleeps with me so I'm not alone.

Tyler Schweitzer: My typical day for this time last year was way different than it is today. Last year at this time I had to get up at 6 and actually get ready for school. I also didn't have time to do other activities like helping my mom in the garden. This year I get up at 9, mope around the house, don't bother to get dressed and start school when I want to. Online school has also made it so I can go at my own pace, which is much faster than if I was in a classroom. Going faster allows my to do the other activities that I couldn't if I was in school all day like planting a garden. COVID-19 has made it feel like summer has come early.

Malcolm Stewart: Right now, every day feels like the one before it. I feel as though I'm just coasting through life, not really putting much effort into anything, or getting much out of anything. Every so often, I'll need to put some effort in, and then I'm back to just moving along. It takes me all week to get my schoolwork done, regardless of how much I have, because of how hard it is to focus. I'm not really excited about much, and I'm not really sad or disappointed. Everything just is.

Seventh-grader: Homeschool for me and my family is so chaotic because my little brothers aren't cooperating. There is nothing I can do to stop COVID-19, but I know I am in God's hands and everything has a purpose even though I can't see the finished project.

Teachers: What are you sick of?

Eighth-grader: I am sick of many things, but on the top of my list is feeling like I am stuck in a constant loop not being able to escape. I do the same thing every day and it is really boring. I usually escape the loop by hanging out with friends, but now in quarantine, I can't.

"I am so sick of Zoom and Facetime. I just want to see my friends and hug them, and once this is over, I will do exactly that." — Cloie Surgeon

Cloie Surgeon: I am so sick of Zoom and Facetime. I just want to see my friends and hug them, and once this is over, I will do exactly that.

Eighth-grader: I'm tired of only getting to see friends and family through a screen and not being able to hug them. I'm sick of being bored so much.

Eighth-grader: It feels like I am unloading and loading the dishwasher every three seconds. I am pretty bored of doing that.

Tyler Schweitzer: What sucks about online school is that your teachers aren't there to make sure you stay on task and do the work. What ends up happening with me is I get bored of an assignment, so I got to take a little break and watch some TV or YouTube. Then I end up watching episode after episode, and I just get sucked in and don't want to stop.

Teachers: What's the best part of a typical day?

Emily Belt: The best part of my day has been sleeping in till 10 a.m. Normally on school days, when we would go to school I would have to wake up and 6 a.m. I like 10 a lot better.

Seventh-grader: My typical day has many best parts. One best part is being able to have time for myself during the day. Another best part is having a relaxed schedule and not being rushed. Also, family time has been a best part of my days. I like school, but not having the same schedule every day is a good change.

Lucas Deshazer: The best part of a typical day in quarantine is when I make my coffee and breakfast because no one else is awake, which means I get to drink my coffee by myself and no one bothers me.

Teachers: What do you miss about school?

Emily Belt: What I miss most about school is all the people I get to see there. All the teachers and students. I don't really miss doing the work, but I really miss being in the classroom and seeing and interacting with the other students.

Eighth-grader: There may be some things I don't like about school, like homework and grades, but I do miss it and can't wait to go back.

Seventh-grader: I don't miss having to get up at 6 a.m. I never thought that that was reasonable, but maybe I just like sleep.

Teachers: What is one of the strangest/funniest/scariest things you've seen in the news or on social media?

Ninety-One student: The funniest and scariest thing I have seen was when my family and I went to Walmart early in the morning. They were finishing stocking up and this lady came where the hand sanitizer was and using her two arms, she scooped all of it in her cart while my dad was there staring at her with my sister. And she looked at my dad and sister and said, "Do you want some?" My dad laughed and said, "If you want to share." We got five.

ARTWORK BY ALISSA LAY - Baker Prairie Middle School student Alissa Lay reveals a common symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic: toilet paper (the hoarding and subsequent shortage of which will not be soon forgotten).

Ashley May: Currently everybody is talking about and standing up for George Floyd, a black man who was innocently killed by a cop. The cop was kneeling on his throat while George Floyd was saying that he couldn't breathe. The cop who killed George Floyd was charged with third-degree murder, which in my opinion the degree should be lowered. People are protesting in the streets not just for justice for Floyd but for black lives. People with colored skin are getting innocently killed every day, just for the color of their skin. The color of someone's skin should not be a threat; the color of someone's skin is not a weapon. Justice for George Floyd. Black lives matter.

Teachers: Describe the moment this became personal.

Eighth-grader: Well, when the quarantine started, my grandpa's job stopped, and it was difficult for my grandparents and us because we had to pay our rent and that of our grandparents.

Seventh-grader:  The moment when this pandemic hit me personally would be when my grandma had a heart attack. This was scary because, of course, she had a heart attack and she could have died, but the thing that hit me harder was because due to the corona you can't see them in the hospital in case of exposure and it's very sad and scary thinking about losing a family member without getting to say goodbye. Although my grandma did recover and is now back at home feeling better, and we've been contacting her every day checking if she's OK. So, it's a relief not having to think those same thoughts again, but it is possible other people could be having the same thoughts, too.

Eighth-grader: It all became real when my life started to get canceled. Event after event, moment after moment, it became personal. Things I loved and worked so incredibly hard for were ripped away from me before I had the chance to have closure.

Teachers: What silver linings have you found in this situation?

Kisiah Hedricks: I set a goal at the beginning of the school year to read 100 books. Because of quarantine, I was able to not only reach that goal, I was able to exceed that goal.

Jolie Rodolph: Surprisingly there are a lot of silver linings during this time. One, I have been spending a lot of quality time with my family. Two, I have gotten many projects completed during this time that I would not have if we had regular school. Three, I have accomplished and learned new things I would not have had time to learn. Finally, I appreciate the blessings I have even more; a great house, electricity, running water, nice clothes, healthy food, acreage to play/keep busy, and technology to stay connected.

Gracie Brown: There are many upsides to the current circumstances. I can focus on my drawing and reading now more than ever. Books are absolutely amazing. Sure, some can be boring, but all it takes is the right book to make you fall in love. Drawing is special to me, too. I'm glad I have more time to practice my hobbies.

Eighth-grader: I don't know about everybody else, but I like how we are doing schoolwork at our own pace. It's easier for me because I can either take as much time as I need or I can finish quickly so I have more free time. I have also had more time to play piano which helps me relax and keep me busy.

Teachers: How will this pandemic change the world, or your world?

Cloie Surgeon: This pandemic will change the way I think forever. I have realized how special I am and how fragile our life is. We went from one day going to school to the next day finding out that there was this virus out here that can kill millions in one single day. I will always look at every day as if there is no next day.

Eighth-grader: This pandemic is going to change our social interactions and our economy. We may no longer shake hands after this pandemic. I believe the world will be a lot more aware of germs. It will also be hard for many to find jobs in the coming years. My brother might not be able to get a job for a while after college. This pandemic will leave a lasting impression on our world for many years.

Autumn Solomon: I think that everyone (or most people) are going to be more appreciative of life — and wash their hands more.

Teachers: What other thoughts do you have?

"It is truly a strange time to be growing up." — Eighth-grader

Eighth-grader: It is truly a strange time to be growing up.

Isa Arredondo: During this quarantine, me and my brothers became TikTok famous. We now have mercy and over 100,000 followers. Go follow on TikTok @tuwanrovio, Instagram @balloon-league, and submit videos at

Amelia Watts: What hurts to think of is the people hungry, cold and jobless because they cannot provide for their families. We all know that the people who are going to be OK right now are the people who are always OK. I truly want to thank the businesses around Canby who are giving to the families who are in need. I also want to thank the Canby Center for letting my family and I volunteer to help the families.

Autumn Solomon: Now, Oregon is opening up (which also means my orthodontist opened up … ughhh). I don't think it's a good idea but I can't do anything about that.

Romario Vargas: Odd things I have noticed since quarantine are how often people wash their hands now. Did they not do this before?

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and space.

Kristen Wohlers
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