By Isabella McPadden
Isabella McPadden is a senior at Joseph A. Foran High School and the student representative for Foran in the Milford Education Foundation. She is involved in many extracurricular activities, including band, girls swim, natural helpers, journalism, and many more. She loves taking advantage of any opportunity to help out with the school community. Next year, she will be attending Pennsylvania State University to study Elementary Education. You can tell by the article she authored that she will be a great addition to the education community, and her experiences with Covid-19 disrupting her senior year will prove fruitful as she counsels future generations of children.
Uncertain, afraid, and disappointed are just a few words to describe the student body at Joseph A. Foran High School. Due to the widespread coronavirus disease (COVID-19), all public schools in Connecticut have been closed until further notice, which created a change students certainly did not expect. Students are certainly keeping their distance, but staying connected socially, academically, and civically to spread positivity during such difficult circumstances.
As a senior involved in an abundance of organizations and a student taking rigorous AP courses, it is often difficult to have faith in the future. It often feels unfair to miss out on what was supposed to be the best part about senior year. We worked for a celebration, not an abrupt closure. Many fear missing out on senior events, including our senior cotillion, picnic, and graduation.
This pandemic has definitely made the college decision process more difficult than it already is. I was lucky enough to visit my two top schools before I made my final decision, but some seniors planned to make their trips in the spring. While a traditional tour is beneficial, “Admitted Students Days” really immerse seniors in the sense of community provided by the college. Most if not all of these Admitted Students Days were cancelled. This decision is one of the most important decisions we make in our lives. It determines what our future holds and where we are meant to be.
How do we make these decisions? Many colleges have allowed us to stay connected with virtual tours, as well as extending their decision dates. They also provide information in regards to questions and concerns of incoming freshmen through “zoom” group calls, emails, and phone calls. It’s important to recognize the incredible technology we have today and how we can use it to make these life changing decisions.
Already, multiple field trips have been cancelled. The Foran High School concert and marching band attends Disney World in Orlando, Florida every four years. This experience was supposed to be not only academic, but exciting and fun. I remember being told in eighth grade that if I join the band at Foran, I would attend the Disney trip my senior year. I was devastated to hear that the Disney trip was cancelled, and I wasn’t the only one. Senior and Band President Casey Coon says, “When I first heard of the cancellation, it was a really hard truth to swallow. It had been a dream of mine and I know it was for a lot of others to have that experience, especially for the seniors who had worked so hard to get there.”
After some time, I remembered why I truly stuck with the organization for four years, and it wasn’t because of the Disney trip. Music will always be a part of me, and the unforgettable memories I’ve made make it all worth it. Senior Casey Coon mentions, “What helped me move on was the fact that I wasn’t alone and I had the support of my other band seniors and the bond we developed over four years. We had grown so much as a group and even though we didn’t quite get our happy ending, we knew we wouldn’t let it define us.” With multiple google meets with our sections and our band teacher, Ms. Turner, we have been able to support each other in the tough time. Staying connected has allowed us to bring light to this upsetting situation. Members of Key Club, Natural Helpers, and other clubs, looked forward to exciting opportunities in the spring, just like the band. To not only seniors, but students missing out on field trips, I immensely feel your pain, but don’t forget to remember the memories you’ve already made and stay connected with fellow members for support.
While this pandemic heavily impacts seniors, it also impacts juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. Many juniors are looking to take the SAT or ACT, as well as preparation courses for the exams. Getting these exams done before the summer and senior year definitely makes the college process a little bit smoother. Juniors also want to start touring colleges and getting an idea of where they would like to apply to. Junior Amanda Queiroz says, “As for the SATs, as of right now, all we know is they’ve been pushed back. I’m not sure how much, but I know that it’s definitely taking away our ability to prepare physically with our teachers, which had helped me previously with the PSATs and was really the only way I actually practiced because I’m not the most self-motivated to do it on my own time. I was also going to start a class, but that can’t happen now either.”
Many students like Queiroz are worried about how the pandemic will impact taking SAT preparation courses. However, there are opportunities for students to stay connected and practice at home. A common online resource for students is Khan Academy. Keeping up with her preparation, while staying home, junior Kensye Cocchia says, “Despite odds due to the coronavirus, I have been able to prepare myself for the future after quarantine, I have been continuing to study for the SAT, even though our school test day was cancelled. My teachers, especially for math and AP Lang., have also helped me prepare for the SAT by doing specific math problems focused on the test and AP Lang. has taught me all the necessary skills for the language portion. Although it is upsetting to have our school test day cancelled, I am trying to continue to prepare and use this extra time to my advantage.”
Now, social distancing, and many quarantined at home, what can we do? How do we as students continue to engage in our schoolwork and stay connected with our peers? The answer at Foran and in the Milford Public School system is online learning. While this adjustment has definitely been different, students understand that teachers are doing the very best they can to provide an out of school learning environment to their students. Many teachers have been using “Google Meet” to interact and check in with their students, as well as give them time to ask questions regarding daily assignments posted on google classroom.
With this different classroom setting, many students have different opinions regarding the change. Senior Corina Massey says, “I think online learning has not been the easiest and has definitely been something I have had to get used to. I like being able to listen to lectures and communicate with my teachers and build a relationship with them, but it’s harder to ask questions and communicate with them with distant learning. It is certainly something I was nervous for, but it has given me independence and responsibilities that I normally do not have in the classroom. It has taught me to make my own schedule. I commend the district and their teachers for their adjustment to distant learning. It is something that is new to everyone and I appreciate all the great things they have done during these stressful times managing school and their own personal lives.”
This change has been hard for us here at Foran and I am certain that it has been difficult for schools all across the country. What’s important to remember is that we are in this together. There are things we can do everyday to still get in some physical activity. Experiencing beautiful weather lately, many students enjoy going outside for a walk or run. Extra time at home means extra time to bond with family members. At my house, we enjoy playing a card game at least once or twice a week. This is also a great time to support our local businesses. As my family owns a restaurant in Milford, Connecticut, it’s not easy to see business slow. What we can do is order take out to give back to and support our local businesses, especially the ones that have donated to school functions and fundraisers in the past. As we progress with technology, we can take advantage of our online resources and make it a priority to check in on our friends and distant family. Social media has become a great outlet for students at Foran. In Foran Innovative Thinkers, we are hosting a “social media spirit week” during our April Break. It’s awesome to see students and teachers send in content for each spirit day and to see grades get competitive to earn spirit points each day. Through this pandemic, we as a community not only need to “keep our distance”, but need to keep up our spirits by staying connected.
Prior to Covid-19 several articles were being produced by board members of the Milford Education Foundation. As with many organizations, especially non-profits, many of our plans are on hold or will be seriously altered. As we are all hunkered down, we thought you would enjoy reading these, more to come…