Pandemic Lessons:  THS Students Write About What Their Generation Should be Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic


Talawanda High School students in Honors English I were asked to write 500 words about what they think their generation should be learning from the current global health crisis.  Here are some of their wise responses.

The Lessons of a Global Pandemic


On November 17, 2019, the world began to change. It was the day that the first person in China contracted Covid-19 which would later spread around the entire world — Now, it is a global pandemic. People must stay at home, businesses are closing, and physical school is cancelled. In a time like this, there is much to learn. People all around the world must cooperate at this time more than ever to keep each other safe, and solve our problems. Besides knowing that the world must cooperate more, there is another very important lesson that we are learning through Covid-19. It is a lesson that affects us directly. This lesson is showing us how important communication is with family and friends.

I never used to talk to my extended family on a normal day. It seemed strange and it felt like I was going out of my way for it and I personally was too lazy to do it. Now that people are forced to stay home, with so much more time on our hands, and so much less time in the outside world, we feel that we should communicate more and also check on the welfare of our families. We are now communicating more than we ever have with the people that we should have been talking to in the first place.

It isn’t only communication with family that is being increased, but for me personally it is also communication with friends, and I believe that it is most  likely that way for most teenagers. At school, your communication is based on if you are in the same classes, and even how far apart you are in the classes that you are in. The rest of the interactions mostly consist of hallway greetings during the day. Now that we are always staying at home, we are not restricted to talking to those in our classes. We now have to rely on online messaging systems and we can reach everybody more. I’ve been talking to a lot more people now than I did before quarantine, and I think that this just shows how important it is to be outgoing and to actively talk to everyone around us.

The second lesson that I believe is very important that we are learning through the Covid pandemic is that people must cooperate together more. I say people in general because while Covid-19 is on a global scale, and we require healthcare professionals and politicians around the world to work on fixing the problem, it teaches us about the importance of teamwork and cooperation with each other. One way that people have to work together during the pandemic, is by being clean. If somebody goes to the grocery store, they must wash their hands well and take many safety precautions such as making sure to keep their hands off of containers and produce, or wearing gloves.. Everyone must do this in order to keep others safe, and it is a way that people are working together. Teamwork is necessary in many instances, and these are just a small few.

While this pandemic is an unprecedented and awful thing to happen, there is much to learn from it. It isn’t a complete curse — We are learning about the importance of communication and cooperation, something that will be hopefully transferred into everyday life by ordinary people after this pandemic is over.


 “You Don’t Know What You Got Til’ It’s Gone” — Joni Mitchell


The pandemic took everyone by surprise.  Our lives went on as normal before we were knocked off of our feet and, all at once, everything changed.  Suddenly, everything we looked forward to doing every day, and everyone we looked forward to seeing every day, was gone.  School, sports, clubs, friends, teachers.  All far away.  While this distance may bring us pain, it will also teach us a valuable lesson.  Appreciate the things you take for granted, because one day they might disappear.  Specifically three things: Social interaction, education, and variety.

Us humans thrive off of social interaction.  We work as teams, whether that is for a sport, for school, for a job, or just because we enjoy being around other people.  When we lose touch with people, especially our family and close friends, our moods reflect it.  We don’t always realize this because our normal everyday lives are filled with conversations and interactions with all manners of people.  We take for granted the level of social interaction we need, not realizing how different our lives would be without it.  Not realizing it until now.

As teenagers, the majority of the social interaction we receive is through school.  We spend seven hours or more a day with hundreds of different people.  We talk to friends, peers, coaches, teachers, bus drivers, lunch staff, and counselors, saturating our need for people.  But school brings more to the table than just people.  All throughout the day ideas are being exchanged, criticized, and challenged.  Opinions are making themselves heard, encouraging others to do the same.  Without this marketplace of ideas, without this mental stimulation, ideas flow slower and with less potential.  Our minds become sluggish, and consequently, so does the rest of us.  We learn less effectively and work less effectively.  We take for granted how much the mental workout school gives us is needed, and will still be needed farther down the line.  

While we are cooped up at home, not much is changing.  Besides the ever-developing story of how the world is handling the coronavirus, our lives have been staying the same.  While the life of high-school prior to the quarantine was indeed monotonous, it had much more variety than life in quarantine.  It’s the small changes that we may not notice that make our lives exciting to live, and now that our lives are static, it becomes easy to really miss those small changes. 

Although our lives have been turned upside down and so many plans have been ruined, there is a lesson to be learned.  A lesson that is often taught through loss and learned through pain.  And that lesson is to appreciate what you have while you have it, because as “Big Yellow Taxi” so simply put it, “You don’t know what you got til’ it’s gone,” (Mitchell, 6).

Works Cited

Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Ladies of the Canyon, 1970, Warner Records Inc.


Socially Lonely: How To End a Video Call


Ah. Sweet, sweet isolation. It’s a time of productivity, a time of relaxation, a time to get back in touch with your friends and really socialize online. But does a video call actually count as social interaction? More importantly, how much of your need for socialization can you satiate in cyberspace? In my humble opinion, not much. It’s surprising how we seem to forget that talking online is very different from talking in real life, specifically about how necessary it is to meet with people face to face. 

As humans, we are by nature social creatures and always will be. We need in-person human contact pretty often or we’d go completely mad. This is the problem when you isolate humans: we need each other, and the internet can only do so much. It can’t sustainably keep our social needs going. Video and voice calls are in no way a substitute for actually meeting someone in person. Sure, in the short term they’re nice, but they should only be supplementary. You can only gain so much from talking with someone online, and after a while of only doing so, you begin to see flaws in it. For example, try and think about how you feel after you end a video call. You say goodbye to the other person, and are left in silence. A cold, lonely, crushing silence. In those moments, you realize that you really are alone. You really can’t go and see your friends or family. 

In this period of quarantine, I hope people will try and reflect in on themselves and their relationships with others. It feels like recently people have taken companionship for granted. We really do need each other for more than just basic survival. Humans help each other. They uplift. They protect. And most importantly: they’re simply there for each other. In times of hardship, I often find myself going to many different people for comfort. I can ask for help and see that many others respond and come to my aid. It’s a lovely feeling that I find myself having also taken for granted–but now that luxury is gone. 

After saying all this, I have one last wish. A large group of you are still cooped up with your families like I am. I urge you to socialize with them. They’re the only people you have, and in times of crisis it can help a lot to reach out and just talk. I spend most of my day holed up in my room and, though most times I’ll contact someone online, I’ve found that I’m only really happy when talking to my parents or generally just hanging out with them. I hope that there’s some practicality from my essay that you all can take to heart. Now, get out there, or rather in there, and get to talking!




Humans are vulnerable. We are squishy sacks of skin and meat held up by brittle pieces of bone. We are blinded by the small conflicts between ourselves, unable to see the destruction we cause to our brethren. As a species, this is unsustainable. Sooner or later, an asteroid or a dangerous contagion will wipe the Earth clean of the flesh-bags that plague its surface. As one of those flesh-bags, I do not particularly enjoy that thought. And, as we are currently experiencing a mild form of one of these threats to our existence, we should be learning that the only route for prolonging our fate is to explore and expand; to throw off the chains that bind us to a single ball of rock and water; to spread the plague that is humanity across the galaxy in hopes of finding enough suitable hosts to maintain our species so that when some are inevitably destroyed or ruined — either by our own hands or those of nature — our race continues on.

Throughout history, humans have harmed each other to reach their own goals. These goals almost never coincide with the survival of the human race. Stalin killed millions in order to maintain his dominion over the CCCP and Eastern Europe. Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal act which destroyed the lives of tens thousands of Native Americans. Hitler and Mussolini facilitated the murders of millions of jews and other minorities. All these atrocities occurred for the gain of a person or group and at the expense of the persecuted and humanity as a whole. Now, in the age of weapons of mass destruction, where several nations have the ability to kill hundreds of millions at the press of a button, how does humanity expect to survive? People almost never fully comprehend the vulnerability of our species to ourselves. 

The atrocities humanity commits are not the only threat to human civilization. The one thing that will always be more powerful than humanity is nature. Nature does not see ethnicities and beliefs; it creates and destroys without bias, without care. We can egg nature on or slow it, but it is inevitably unstoppable. All it would take is a hunk of rock a few kilometers wide at just the right trajectory and that’s it for human civilization. In the best case scenario humanity is sent back to the stone age. Worst case? Most of the life on Earth is extinguished. In a few billion years it won’t matter if there’s an asteroid coming or not; the sun will expand, scorching and then swallowing our planet. A coronal mass ejection could easily wipe out all modern technology on Earth or in orbit with only a few minutes notice. A little closer on the universal timeline is climate change. Climate change is a natural cycle. Every few million years Earth gets an ice age. Humanity has been speeding up this process. What would have occurred over millennia now takes only a hundred years, maybe less. We can see the same effect on Venus. Venus is not the closest planet to the sun but is the hottest because of a runaway greenhouse effect. The same thing that is causing global warming here on Earth. Millions of humans will be displaced in the next few decades. Species will go extinct. Some humans will probably still deny its existence, even as their houses flood and their crops die out. This can’t be ignored till the next generation inherits our problems and has to deal with it. It’s happening now and we can’t stop it. 

With the current COVID-19 pandemic we should be realizing how delicate our existence is. A minor disease has brought our healthcare system to its knees. We could attempt to solve this by increasing production of medical equipment but that is only a temporary solution for a small problem. Humans are vulnerable creatures. Our only route to survival is to spread our destructive race throughout the galaxy so that when one world is destroyed there is always another. We do not need technological or evolutionary advancements. We do not need to increase our production of nuclear weapons to destroy asteroids. We need contingencies. Earth is a seed. A vulnerable ball that can flourish as easily as it can be destroyed. We must grow into a magnificent oak, with each leaf a separate world on which humanity thrives, so that if any leaf dies, or even the seed, the tree will live on.


COVID-19 Lessons for Our Generation

By C.D.

The Coronavirus has definitely changed the world, a lot.  From online school, to take out only at restaurants, everything feels a little bit off.  Many say, “it feels illegal to go get groceries”.  Although it’s insane, there is one lesson I have definitely learned from this.

Those that are of my generation are mostly in high school and middle school.  The struggle for young people has definitely been not being able to see friends and family and many exciting events getting cancelled.  These are all struggles, but one lesson we have learned is to appreciate what we have while we have it.  Only two months ago we were all sitting at school, probably complaining about the workload and wanting to go home and take a nap.  Little did we know, we were coming upon the end of our freshman year.

The day it was official that the governor was closing school for the rest of the year, everyone was a little excited.  I don’t know about everyone else, but the next day I found myself sad, thinking about how much I loved my classes and the people I had in them.  Through all of the complaining and the frustration of school, it was really a pretty fun year.  I have now learned about remembering that these will be some of the best moments of my life.

To quote Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) on The Office, Season 9, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days, while you were still in them.”  I have found myself thinking about how much fun I had this year, from standing in the student section cheering on our football team with my friends, to sitting in tutorial making jokes and watching tik toks, to homecoming and dancing with everyone.  I have found myself saying that I would know when I was in my good old days so I could remember, however you don’t think about those things when you’re actually experiencing all of these amazing things.  

The biggest lesson that can be learned from this pandemic in my opinion is to learn to appreciate the amazing times in your life before they’re gone.  Because they might even be gone before you know it.


Lock-Up Lessons

By L.E.

“Going nowhere… isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.” — Pico Iyer

We are all sitting at home doing close to nothing, yet we are asked what lessons could be learned from it? The first thing that came to mind is that I can’t spend this much time with my family and still have any sanity what-so-ever. Though this would make for a very enthusiastic essay, I didn’t end up choosing this one because I don’t think that you want to hear me complain about my family for the next 500 words or so. In all seriousness, I think that there are so many things that we can learn from this time in quarantine. Like the values that we can now find in simple things, like going to school everyday, or seeing family on holidays or birthdays, it might even be something as simple as going out to eat one Tuesday night. I know that personally I miss so many things about my normal life, as I am sure everyone else does. I miss going to school, seeing friends, the current events in Mr. McGhehey’s class, Mr. Mill’s weirdness, and debates in English class. I miss riding the bus in the afternoon and talking to my bus driver, Linda. I miss the play that would have taken over my weekends even though it would have been over by now. There are so many things that I miss about my daily life, and this break has definitely taught me to value them.

I know that I’m not the only one who took school for granted, I would complain about one teacher or their seemingly meaningless assignment, or waking up at 5:45 in the morning (which I do not miss), or the long walk from Orchestra to Spanish. There were so many things that I just disregarded. There were other things too, such as seeing my friends in person, and being able to have conversations with them where we are closer than six feet apart, especially, us endlessly making fun of Mr. Mills and whatever weird joke he decided to tell that day. There were so many lunches where I would just sit and play on my phone instead of having a real conversation with my friends, because I didn’t think that in the middle of the school year the country would go on lockdown. 

One of the other things that I miss is being able to see my family. I wish that before all of this started that I had visited my grandma more, because she is in a nursing home and there is no way that I can see her now. I know that she is lonely just sitting in her room all day alone, and when I call her I can just hear how tired she is and it breaks my heart that I can’t see her. Easter was really hard as well because all of my family normally gets together at this park in St. Louis and have a “grill out” thing and it is one of the few times a year I get to see them. My cousin, Maddie, also just had a baby and I was really looking forward to meeting him. I miss the trips that we would take to St. Louis to see them. I miss my cousin Brea who I haven’t seen since Christmas, along with the rest of my family.

All of this time that I now have freed up has given me so much more space to fill in my day. I have been writing a lot, as well as reading, painting, and, most importantly, watching YouTube. Before all of this self-isolation stuff came up I rarely was able to do any of these things due to the limited amount of free time that I had. Most nights I didn’t get home until almost eight o’clock because of swimming, and/or Drama rehearsals. Now I am home all day everyday, it’s a huge change as you could expect. For the first week or two of quarantine I was like a creative explosion. I filled all of my time with painting, coloring, reading, writing, and so much more just to keep busy. Now it is hard to find motivation to do any of these things that I love to do. Of course I still am doing some of these things, it is just difficult to find new ideas when my only muse’s are the walls that have caged me for the past month and a half.

All of this though; from missing my friends, to my grandma, to endless hours of YouTube. It has all shown me the value of life, family, and change. I am sure that everyone of us is aching to get out of quarantine and be away from our families for more than a few minutes at a time. Even though this is tedious, and so stressful in so many ways, I think that this is just what we all needed to truly see the beauty in life and every simple thing that we do. I just want to say this again because I think it really sums up our time in quarantine and it is an amazing perspective to see this quarantine from.

“Going nowhere… isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.” — Pico Iyer


Seeing the Light in a Dark Time 


In this time of Pandemic it’s like we’ve all been sent to our rooms to think about what we’ve done. It’s our job to try and see the lessons and positive things that will come out of this.  Nobody could’ve predicted what we’re all going through.  This pandemic poses different problems for all of us, for some- family members are sick, parents are essential personnel, they don’t feel safe at home or they don’t have food right now.  When trying to think about the lessons it’s going to be different for everyone but I think  I’ve come up with three that apply to many.  

There are 7.6 billion people on this earth, “Every second, 1.8 humans die and 4.2 humans are born” according to What if.  Take a second, pause, 4 babies were born and 2 people died just in that instant you paused.  The amount of people on this earth is something no one can wrap their head around but at the same time we’re ALL connected.  This is such an important lesson to learn from COVID-19.  The decision of ONE singular person can affect us all.  As of today, April 29th, 3 million people have the virus, and 218,000 have died.  To put that into perspective, that’s the Red’s stadium completely packed, 5 ½  times, all starting from ONE person.  This is crucial to remember because we can’t say that our actions don’t affect others, we can’t say the US is not connected to all other countries.  Another example is the butterfly effect, this doesn’t only matter for time travel but real life.  We’re all connected and our actions should reflect so.  

The second important lesson is ready-access to food and an education are GIFTS.  There are so many people out there who don’t have either. Everyday at school you’d hear people talking about how they don’t want to be there or how much they hate school ect.  This experience should put it all into perspective that our free education is a pure luxury and gift.  Knowledge is power and we are given the opportunity to have the power for free.  America is at a tipping point; our meat packing plants are shutting down leaving us with a meat shortage. We don’t realize what a gift it is to go to the store and get our groceries with no concern for if they’ll be there next week or not.  The lesson we should learn from this is to not take for granted of the fact we are lucky to be able to go to the store and get our groceries and yes, even toilet paper without worry.   

The 3rd and most important lesson for our generation is flexibility, innovation, and collaboration is required in time of need and those skills should be transferred to everyday life.  Experts are having to work on the fly to research cures and vaccines, grocery stores are having to adjust hours and protocols, companies and schools have to work from home, basically every aspect of life has quickly changed.  As a generation that is about to go into college and the workforce we need to use these skills to think outside of the box.  When we think outside of the box (as COVID-19 has shown) it’s going to make the world work faster and better.  

As there are many lessons to be learned in my opinion, understanding we’re all connected, education and food are luxuries, and innovation is key to a better world, are all things that our generation needs to take away.  

Work Cited 

Death Rates, what-if.xkcd.com/27/.“COVID-19 Situation Reports.” World Health Organization, World Health    Organization,www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/.


What Generation Z Must Learn from the Outbreak


“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” — Henry Ford

The COVID-19 outbreak has certainly tested the strength of the people. It shows once again that the world can change from normal to disorder in an instant. We were all living our normal lives and rapidly everything started to shut down. Schools, restaurants, etc, then the stay at home order; it all happened so quickly. Although all of it was necessary, it isn’t enough. One more massively important thing must also be completed not only to stop the spread now, but also could’ve prevented it from spreading earlier. And that is everyone doing their part. That is the lesson my generation must learn from this.

So what exactly does “everyone doing their part” mean in this case? Well, it means to always wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay at home, and listen to officials and experts. Not only will this greatly reduce the spread of the virus, it also helps to prevent the spread of many illnesses, such as the common cold and the flu. Washing your hands whenever you’re sick or trying to prevent the spread of something greatly helps. This is so obvious, yet some people don’t do this, which is quite disturbing and something that clearly needs to change. Practicing social distancing during this time will lessen the chance of you coming in contact with someone who may have the Coronavirus and is a key thing to do, however still there are some people who won’t follow through with this and will still gather with a large group of people. Staying at home ensures that you won’t come into contact with others outside of your family. Listening to officials and experts is very important because they know what they’re doing (at least the experts do, not so much the state officials). All of these combined works greatly, at least when everyone actually follows through.

All of the above seems so obvious. Of course washing your hands helps, of course staying away from others helps, and of course listening to experts helps, but there’s still some people who don’t do these. Luckily as time goes by their numbers are decreasing, however, stopping the spread of a virus needs immediate action, not action a month after the orders are issued. It needs action the moment we know about it actually. This lesson is greatly important to the zoomers because we need to remember this for the future because for sure there will be more global outbreaks for us to experience in our lifetime.