My alarm clock goes off at 8 a.m.

I turn it off and roll over to go back to sleep, knowing that today is another day of quarantine. As such, there isn’t anything or anyone needing my immediate attention.

Eventually, I wander out to the couch in my living room where I begin working on school assignments in my pajamas. Yes, there are certainly benefits to this “new normal,” but this strange ending to my senior year at Platteview High School has also come with disappointments and challenges.

The week before spring break, when I was still in the classroom, I remember my contempt and disbelief as students and teachers discussed the possibility of not returning after break. I rolled my eyes at the preparations for e-learning, thinking we couldn’t possibly have to miss school for more than a week or two.

Now, more than a month into quarantine, I am aware that my last day of senior year passed without my knowing. Without warning, I missed my last class, my last lunch with friends, my last opportunity to joke around during passing period and exchange whispers and goofy looks during class.

Prom and graduation have been postponed until July (if they in fact happen), and other rites of passage will now be virtual, including Honors Night.

While I don’t always pause to think about these losses, they do cause frustration and sadness.

As a student, I have always taken for granted that prom, graduation and other milestones would occur. It is easy to be angry, to ask why I, along with other senior,s are the ones who have to suffer the loss of these important moments in our lives. But I will never know the answer to that question, so the frustration only succeeds in leaving me in a negative state of mind.

I know it is better to focus on the positives, however small and ordinary they may seem.

For starters, this virus has given me opportunities to slow down without the usual busyness of daily life and activities. I have time to read books that my English teacher didn’t choose for me and to watch sappy rom-com movies. I even started exercising more than I have in a long while.

This pandemic is also reminding me not to take for granted the moments, both big and small, that I hope to hold dear for many years to come — moments like seeing my friends and family in person, attending church, traveling to new places and even just the freedom of driving to and from school.

These days, you won’t find me jovial and attentive at school. However, you can still hear me sharing a laugh, insight or prayer with friends and family over video chat.

I still haven’t decided whether I will be thoroughly overjoyed when I’m able to leave my house again or if I will rather just stay cozied up in a blanket. Nonetheless, I know that good can come out of either situation. I just need to have perspective and remember to hold the people I care about close, albeit virtually, knowing each day is an opportunity for personal growth and connections with others.

— Sylvia Dierking is a senior at Platteview High School.

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