The 2nd Part in our Year 11 Student Voices Series
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, SGGS Year 11 students have shared their thoughts and feelings via a series of blogs. We are currently sharing excerpts from these written submissions, illustrating and exemplifying this unique and unprecedented time.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be spending lockdown in the environment that I am – recently I have become increasingly aware of my privilege, not only in having copious amounts of space compared to many others, but also in the outstanding pastoral support I have received from school, friends and family.
A typical day for me begins with an early morning 45-minute outdoor swim; and also includes my daily walk, alongside the occasional attempt to increase my cardiovascular fitness on our spin bike. Although these attempts have been rendered relatively futile by my consumption of my sister’s recently perfected cheesecake afterwards, I still find exercise to be a beneficial tool to help clear my head and set me up for the day ahead! I have never been more grateful to live in the countryside – gentle strolls through rolling fields of sheep have never seemed so thrilling!
As many of my friends will be able to testify, I was an absolute mess on the last day of school as I struggled to comprehend that the place which formed the foundation of my teenage years was drastically more ephemeral than I could have ever imagined. However, I’m looking forward to Results Day and the clarity that results will bring after a period of unprecedented levels of uncertainty. A large proportion of my time during lockdown has been spent looking at the A-level courses which I am intending to study in September. I have found Kerboodle to be an excellent resource, allowing me to look in depth at multiple different courses.
I would wholeheartedly recommend completing some of the multitude of free online courses (for example through the Open University) in order to gain a better understanding of topics which interest you. For example, I have recently completed two online courses – one about gene therapy and the ethical issues surrounding it; and a very different course about the use of force in international humanitarian law. Similarly, many universities are doing livestream versions of their open days for particular subjects – allowing an increased understanding of what different courses entail to be obtained. I am hugely looking forward to resuming school in September; formally commencing my A-level studies; and returning to such a supportive and welcoming environment.
My mum is a teacher and seeing her constantly work has truly given me a greater sense of appreciation for many of my teachers during this time. The resources shared have kept a sense of challenge and allowed many of us to keep a sense of routine.
Quarantine has given me time to paint and redecorate my room and I think, particularly in times like these, it’s good to have a safe space which reflects you as a person. As well as this, I've been Houseparty-ing and FaceTiming lots of my friends, as I’m trying to spend less time on social media. Keeping bonds strong is super important. I would love to say I've become a chef or a baker but, my one attempt at garlic butter ended up down the sink and I made protein balls which I don’t think count! I have rediscovered running and I feel hugely privileged to live in the countryside where nature is so easily accessible.
The sunny weather has been welcome and I've even managed to get tan lines by spending time reading in the garden. Reading has been something I've neglected at home since starting secondary school, so re-starting something that used to be my main hobby has felt really good. Some of my favourite were the Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments and I'm currently attempting Great Gatsby; these books have also made me reconsider my A level options as I think doing something you enjoy is so important. The main thing I've learnt is that productivity really helps with the inevitable blues of quarantine and that has really helped me with my mental health. However, life isn’t always easy and resting can be okay, especially in a challenging time where we need to recharge and stay healthy.
The tough part about this situation is the uncertainty. However, for us Year 11s, we have even become more excited for Results Day, now that we will have the opportunity to see the peers that we have been with for almost 5 years again (despite the fact we will also anxiously be receiving our results).
Receiving an introduction to A-level work and the Sixth Form for our chosen subjects now is very beneficial as I was previously waiting to get through GCSEs before thinking about Sixth Form. We have been given the opportunity to think about the next chapter in our academic lives, as well as having something to do during the day. A lot of my days are spent with my sister, which has made me feel very fortunate as she is planning to go off to university next year, meaning that I won’t see her as much. My sister and I exercise together, not only to enjoy each other’s company, but also to motivate each other to stay fit during these unprecedented times. I have also enjoyed the sunshine, managed to bake a few things including cookies and muffins, as well as sorted out the leavers’ hoodies that arrived at my house a few days ago!
I think that technology and social media have been very useful to all generations. I have found myself on FaceTime to friends for hours, catching up on how our days have been and what we are currently watching on Netflix. An exciting part of the week for me was definitely the ‘Thursday Clap’ for NHS workers. Not only did we get to show our appreciation for, and recognition of their efforts and persistence, but we also united as a country to support each other.
Overall, Covid-19 has provided a very different experience, which will be remembered in the years to come. I cannot wait to go back to school, to see my friends and get back to a life outside of isolation, and I am sure that students across the country will be returning to school with enthusiasm and excitement. Stay safe and positive everyone :)
Attending school ‘virtually’ and studying at home has definitely been an adjustment, but with the use of Microsoft Teams and other online resources, the transition has felt relatively smooth. The videos compiled by the teachers and the discussions during Tutor Time have provided a much-needed lift during the day. There is a certain level of jeopardy to Results Day as our final grades are now completely out of our control, but we know we’ve all worked hard throughout the last couple of years and I’m confident that we will be rewarded with a grade that reflects the effort we’ve all put in.
I’ve been trying to keep myself busy to stay sane throughout this period and have been exercising frequently. The extra free time has enabled me to train and workout more often, as well as attending an online TaeKwonDo class twice a week, which has helped me keep fit and stay in touch with my friends. I’ve also been using the time to prepare for my A-levels and get ahead in the subjects that I’m interested in studying. Another positive is that it has enabled me to reconnect with old friends over social media and share our experiences and thoughts on the lockdown. We all connect via Zoom meeting for our weekly Friday Quiz Night which has been a lot of fun.
It is definitely going to be strange going back to school in September as this year has felt quite anticlimactic. However, I’m excited that I will be studying new subjects and experiencing a new sense of freedom and independence as a member of the Sixth Form.