BAYONNE, NJ - “It’s like prison,” junior Jordan Barreto said when asked to describe Bayonne High School’s 6-week break in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Just two weeks ago, the Bayonne School District announced the last day of on campus classes for students, as they prepared to transition to virtual learning with an anticipated return date of April 21st. 

However, students remain doubtful of returning in April as the number of coronavirus cases inches toward 20,000 cases statewide, claiming 198 lives. With that apprehension in mind, many students, specifically student-athletes, band members, and seniors, feel that they have been disproportionately affected. 

Some students, like sophomore Max Dejoy, asserted his liking for online classes. “I can do my work on my own time, so I’ve been a lot less stressed.” Offering a similar perspective was junior Aisha Coello who expressed that she’s “been in a classroom for over 10 years.”

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“Being at home, comfortable in my pajamas the entire day, trying to do my work, it is just a different type of adjustment.” 

While some students like for virtual learning, others have struggled, they say, noting that already-dense subjects, such as physics and calculus, are tougher to learn online as opposed to the in-person instruction. 

Antony Erian, a senior enrolled in an EMT class shared his concerns stating, “A lot of the work you do is hands-on, like when using a manikin. They’re telling you what to do or how to do it, and something small that goes wrong can’t be really shown on camera. It sucks but it is better than having the whole school get sick. A lot of our teachers are in that vulnerable population so it wouldn’t be fair for them.” 

In addition to the learning, several students shared their disappointment that their seasons, including baseball, boys volleyball, track, and girls softball, are likely not going to happen. Mahnoor Nooman, a senior on the Girls Softball Team, said that because this is her last year in high school she is “missing out on the senior experience.”

“My teammates, my coaches, the thrill of the game, and the moment it would be my last time on the field,” Nooman said. “It sucks that I didn't get to say a proper 'goodbye' to something that's been a big part of my high school experience.”

“Our senior year was taken away from us, but we have to look forward and remain optimistic and realize we have important things in our future.” junior student-athlete, Dylan Hedler, stated, “I am very upset that we are unable to practice or play any of our scrimmages, but I am continuing to practice baseball, it is what I love,” he added, emphasizing that baseball is a huge part of his life and his teammates, who recently had a team-bonding FaceTime call on Monday. 

Max Brown, a sophomore and member of the track team added, “If this actually chips our season, it will hurt. But there’s not much we can do, so there is no point in being sad.” 

Equally dismayed, they say, are students in the arts, including dance, theater, and band, as their shows have been canceled. 

“We were supposed to attend the North Jersey School Music Association Regional concert band festival, but that has been canceled,” sophomore Carl Blasa shared. “I am also a part of our jazz band, and the rest of our season is canceled.” Blasa was also hoping to participate in a program at TCNJ shadowing a music student for two days, as well as audition for all-state choir, both of which have been canceled. “I am doing my best in making the good out of a very bad situation right now.” 

Junior Faith Lyons, a dancer who said she has been dedicated to the arts since she was very young, referred to the likelihood of the show she had been preparing to participate in as “absolutely heartbreaking.” 

Even students who were arranging to take their SATs in March or in May, including junior Gianna Gicoli,  expressed their concerns with the cancellation of both exams. 

“I was very disappointed, I really wanted to get it over with and plan another SAT to strengthen my score,” Gicoli said. “However, I do understand why it has been canceled. If I have to resort to taking a retake of my SAT in August, it will push my college application process and make it harder and even more stressful my senior year.” 

For junior Alyssa Rozario, enrolled in AP United States History and AP Language and Composition, the potential premature end of the school year has shifted the way she, and her fellow Advanced Placement students, will take their exams in the courses that gain them college credits. “I commend the College Board for their attempts to ease the pressures of AP teachers and students by limiting the content of the exams to units already covered in class, and providing daily live AP prep sessions on their Advanced Placement YouTube page,” she said. “My only concern is that I feel that the free response structure of the exam will put AP students this year at a disadvantage.” 

Athletics, artistic performances, and exam taking notwithstanding, it is arguably, some students shared, members of the Class of 2020 that are taking the hardest hit by the changed shortened school year. 

“I am beyond upset for them,” junior Mary Kalds said, referring to her friends that may miss out on senior trips, a prom, and perhaps even graduation. It’s also the lost opportunity to spend time with their friends before heading off to college. “Graduation is a big, big deal. Studying for four years and giving it your all and you really want to celebrate it. And you can’t, it just sucks.” 

“I’m so worried about not having a graduation,” senior Julia Riolo shared. “The fact that I’ve spent 12 years in school to not even be able to walk across the stage and receive my diploma is something I never thought would happen.” 

Admitting that he couldn’t believe postponements and cancellations of such important events could be possible, senior Maksim Sokolov tried to strike a positive tone saying that he is “expecting the worst but being grateful for what I have and making the best of my time.”

“I’d advise the Class of 2020 to accept what is, be grateful for what they have and the memories they made, and use this time as wisely as possible.” 

Petra Ghaly is a junior at Bayonne High School

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