Manitoba·First Person

Teen sums up lessons learned after 'unconventional' school year

We’re officially into summer! I cross my fingers for normalcy next school year, wondering what it’ll look like. But the past one? Wow, that went by quickly.

'I cross my fingers for normalcy next year,' Steinbach high school student writes in pandemic diary

'With no school in the way, I'm working jobs, learning how to parallel park and spending time with friends and family,' says Ayesha Badiola, bottom right, with her Bhebeh Tea co-workers. (Submitted by Ayesha Badiola)

This First Person article is the experience of Ayesha Badiola, a Steinbach, Man., teen, basketball fan and freelance writer. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

We're officially into summer! 

With no school in the way, I'm working jobs, learning how to parallel park and spending time with friends and family. Oh, and tuning in to all the sports action, of course.

I cross my fingers for normalcy next school year, wondering what it'll look like. But the past one? Wow, that went by quickly. 

Three different formats, two crazy semesters and one unconventional year later, I can say that I've survived Grade 10. 

The final minutes of my journey consisted of kickball and country music blaring from the speakers — not a bad way to conclude a season of unknowns, a new normal and the not-so-ideal school year.

From constant sanitizing and masks to laminated hall passes and arrows on the ground, no one could've imagined these safety measures before the pandemic.

The learning component stayed, but it was altered to fit the guidelines. We charted untouched territory, from online learning to 2½-hour classes and an every-other-day format. 

Ayesha Badiola was happy to spend time inside the classroom last year, even though it meant strict safety protocols. (Submitted by Ayesha Badiola)

Sure, I learned a lot and received all my credits (which is important!). But a year without sports, concerts, a normal graduation ceremony and Grade Wars (a bunch of really fun competitions between the grades for best school spirit) was rather strange. These are events that make the high school experience memorable. 

Only seeing half of the student body made the halls and classrooms seem empty. Greeting half-covered faces made it more of a challenge to recognize peers. 

Yes, it was weird. And sometimes, I wanted to turn back time or skip the COVID year completely. But eventually, I got used to the new normal.

The question lingers: "What will my Grade 11 chapter look like?" Only time will tell.

Moral of the story

Looking back, the pandemic has taught me valuable lessons. These times have screamed, "Don't take anything for granted" and "Live in the moment." After all, they say these are the golden years, right?

The high school experience will blast past our eyes. Gosh, the past two years have and the next two undoubtedly will. While sitting in math class, minutes feel like hours, but every single year has proven that it does go by quickly — even this pandemic one.

This chapter is short, so let's enjoy and make the most out of it!

Final hurrah

To everyone who's followed me on this wild ride, thank you. It's been a pleasure sharing the high school pandemic experience with you!

To teachers, school staff and students who have made this school year safe and possible, thank you! We've done it.

Now, on to the next.

Signing off,

Ayesha

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ayesha Badiola

Freelance contributor

Ayesha Badiola is a high school student who grew up in the Philippines, before her family relocated to Steinbach, Man. She loves "hoops, writing and reporting," and hopes to one day cover the Toronto Raptors as a journalist or a sideline reporter.

now