I belong to the high school graduating class of 2021. Last year, I watched as people sympathized with the class that came before me, giving their heartfelt support for what the kids had to go through: the infamous global COVID-19 pandemic that struck in the spring. It robbed them of their ability to socialize and the opportunity to learn together in-person. It even took graduation away from them. Everyone expected it to end as quickly as it came, but it didn’t. When school started in the fall of 2020, a new kind of normal had to be defined. My class had to enter into our senior year — which they say should be the most fun and the most cherished — embracing the fact that it was most likely never going to return to the way it was before. But despite it all, I witnessed something remarkable. I witnessed resilience.
Twenty-seven teenagers huddled under a white tent, just big enough to shelter all of them and their supervisors, as the rain pounded on the tarpaulin roof and the cold mountain air left them damp and freezing. It was a sorry sight. The gas stoves in the tent were turned on to serve as a source of warmth and dryness for the shivering teens. Patiently, they waited for the rain to subside. It never did. Senior survival, an annual tradition of my school, was ruined. Amidst the apprehension, the natural playfulness of the boys in my class bubbled over. I sat on a cooler in a trailer attached to the tent and stared in amazement as they grouped into a circle and began singing in Spanish at the top of their lungs. A few of the girls joined along. With a good percentage of the class being Hispanic, the remainder of us watched their impromptu concert from the trailer. My fingers and my toes were freezing, but I smiled. Just a few minutes before, everyone had been quiet and watched the downpour with dread. We knew that our makeshift tents could have been torn down by the wind. We knew that the rest of our activities for the day would be affected by this setback. There was even a rumor that we would have to be pulled down from the mountain. And yet, here was Campion Academy’s class of 2021, singing like there was no tomorrow.
When the rain finally stopped and the news came that we indeed had to leave camp, the singing stopped and was replaced by tears and grumbles. We packed up our belongings, piled into a bus and a van, and returned to the campus of our private institution. The next day, everyone was cheerful and willing to make the best of whatever change of plans there were. Gone were the tears and the complaints. We sat on the stage of the school’s chapel, prayed for each other and sang praise songs. When the supervisors apologized for cutting our camping trip short, all that could be heard was, “It’s alright. We can still have fun!”
The rest of the school year looked like that. COVID-19 took sports and music away from us. It sent us on unexpected trips back home and had us begrudgingly take classes online for weeks. There were major hiccups in our plans and none of us liked them, but we swallowed the bitter pills and moved on.
Despite the grievances brought upon my classmates and I by the Coronavirus, our bond as a class grew stronger, and we did it with faith that God was in control of the situations we faced. This is how I would define resilience. We didn’t initially bear the uncomfortable changes with grace, but we wiped our tears away and got back up. We pressed forward with smiles on our faces and the belief that though things wouldn’t get better right away, we could still make the best of any situation. And as my class of 2021 graduates and enters the big world this summer, I know that we’ll carry this valuable asset of resilience into the unforeseen future.
Sharmaine Monreal, Guest Contributor