Coronaversary: Reflections of a Year in a Pandemic

A year has passed since the day of Mr. Novak’s announcement that school would be closing for two weeks, so The Ledger asked some of our staff and students to look back.  

It’s Friday, March 13, 2020. Anxiously waiting students paced through the halls. Text alerts rang notifying Lakeland students that other schools had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the loud speaker screeched, and Mr. Novak’s voice rang throughout the school, “Lakeland Regional High School will be closed for the next two weeks.” Students cheered and a wave of temporary relief washed over the school. Everyone was ecstatic to have a two week vacation, but still a pang of uncertainty hung in the air. 

As the two weeks faded that pang grew until it swallowed the relief we once felt, and we collectively realized this wouldn’t be a vacation but a new normal. 

A year has passed since that day, so The Ledger asked some of our staff and students here at Lakeland to look back.  


What do you remember about your last day at LRHS?

Courtesy of Ms. Dietz

The day March 13, 2020 still feels like a dream to most people. The Ledger asked the staff of Lakeland Regional High School what they recall about their last day of teaching at school normally.

History teacher Ms. Patty Kebrdle and English teacher Ms. Laura DeFerrari remember thinking that school would be back in session by spring break the latest, while Supervisor Mr. Dave Niedosik recalls how “sudden” it all was.

Ms. Nicole DeCarlo, physician education teacher, remembers “walking the track” while waiting for the inevitable announcement, all while “getting texts from [her] other friends that are teachers” about what districts were closing.

Art teacher Ms. Linda Barhydt points out the fact that students were “cheering like we were going to be on ‘vacation’,” all while she was thinking “‘this is NOT good.”

When getting ready to leave LRHS the day of the closure, math teacher Ms. Kristin Dowling made sure she “had everything” needed to teach remotely, and grabbed extra materials so she “could teach for a month…just in case.” 

While the staff at LRHS had their own personal experience on March 13, everyone can agree that no one had any idea what was headed our way. 

When the announcement first came through, what was your immediate reaction?

Photo courtesy of Julia Circelli

When the announcement came on that day, many of us thought the same way: “We get a two week break off of school? Sweet!” We all were ready for a nice two week break away from school to collect our thoughts and give us some time to recharge and get ready for the remaining school year. 

I thought that we would all be having a couple weeks off to relax and have fun,” said senior Julia Ciricelli. “I don’t think anyone would have guessed what this pandemic has turned into.” 

Senior Joselyn Mattson said, “Just like most likely every other person in the school, It wasn’t looked at as anything too serious, I was a little concerned, but I [assumed] that we would be back in two weeks and everything would be fine.”

However, some of us knew that this wasn’t just going to be two weeks and that something bigger was coming. Some were scared of what was to come, others were upset with what was happening.

“I was actually really upset about not being able to be in school. I remember everyone else in my class was cheering, thinking it will be like a vacation, but I knew that we would be out of school for longer than two weeks,” stated senior Marisa Nastory. “I was obviously okay with it for the safety reasons, but I knew I would miss being in Lakeland.”

What are you planning to do after all of this?

Photo courtesy of Mr. Truong

Now that vaccines are more available, everyone seems to be getting more excited and hopeful about the different things they can do when it is safe once again.

We asked the Lakeland Regional High School staff what they each are most excited to do, and they all gave some different responses. Ms. Jessica Geyer, business teacher and a huge Yankees fan, is excited to attend a game. Both special education teacher Ms. Amanda Higgins and math teacher Mr. Andrew Truong are excited to travel again , with Mr. Truong being especially excited to take students on some of those educational trips around the world. 

There were also many staff members who are excited about hanging out with their kids and families again normally, since most have not seen relatives in almost a year.

“Family BBQ! I miss my family, but we’ve been trying to keep our distance and meet in small groups to protect everyone,” Ms. Melanie Bronstein of special services said.  English teacher Mr. Eric White is excited to have big outdoor barbecues again, as he says, “It’s great to get the whole neighborhood together!”  

On the student side, many said that they were excited to finally be able to travel, go on vacation, and not worry about having to wear a mask when shopping. 

“Just go outside, go shopping without a mask. Take a deep breath and realize we made it through,” senior Jared Conte wrote. 

Senior Larissa Mangerpan plans to go on a road trip or visit museums. Similarly, senior Alana Beshaw is excited to go into New York City again. She looks forward to “just enjoy being able to be there without a mask or the smell of hand sanitizer.”

Senior Meagan Lynn is hopeful for a normal start to her freshman year of college, and just wants to enjoy her time there, not worrying about the pandemic.

Overall, everyone seems pretty eager to get back out there and catch up on their lives again, to start living life normal without having all of those underlying precautions. Senior Gabrielle Williams said it best. She can’t wait to “go out and enjoy normalcy again.” 

What is one hobby you picked up to pass time in quarantine?

Courtesy of Ms. Poggiolo

Lockdown gave a lot of people back one thing: time. During that time, many took up new and old hobbies from hiking, like administration assistance Ms. Teri Powers, to the unique skill of learning  how to read hieroglyphics, like history teacher Mr. Tom Lambrinides. 

For English teacher Ms. Jamie Cawley, keeping her children busy became her new hobby. This meant doing “tons of crafts and projects” with her family to pass time throughout quarantine.

Ms. Amy Saco, Spanish teacher, took some time to try new recipes, while Ms. Ornella Incardona took to putting together puzzles with her family.

Senior Liam Pregenzer reflected, “It gave me time to think. I’ve decided my future plans. I want to be a YouTuber and I’ve already gotten started.”

Nonetheless both the staff members and the students here at LRHS made the most of their time in lockdown.

How did you find the good in this bad situation?

During this tough time, it may be difficult to find that “silver lining,” but many of the staff and seniors at Lakeland are lucky enough to be able to do so. 

For Ms. Kelly Norton, student assistance coordinator, the pandemic helped her realize she needs to make time for those she loves, even when she feels “too busy.”

Math teacher, Ms. Donna Hess, agrees, saying, “I believe some good things have come out of the pandemic. Parents spend more time with their children, and it’s not online or doing things revolving around TV, movies, or electronics. I think it’s because we are all tired of being on a device.”

Courtesy of Joey Cole

Senior Alana Beshaw shared, “It’s made me more aware of my health and the political climate.” 

Lakeland student athlete and senior Joey Cole talked to us about how he used his free time to get to focus more on some of his hobbies. “Between not having hockey and not having to go to school, I was able to explore more and find new hiking/fishing spots.” Cole also states, “In order to stay safe during this troubling time, my friend group and I were limited to only hanging out with each other in ‘our little bubble.’ This made us grow closer and I think in a way we’re all happy we got to spend so much time together.” One year later, and they all still get together and hang out every weekend.”

Alison Barna, another Lakeland senior, talked about how she took advantage of the quarantine to focus on her grades and study habits. She took an abstract approach: “When we were put into an all virtual learning environment, I decided I needed to use my time wisely and focus on improving my work ethic in preparation for college.” Barna says although quarantine was quite boring at times, she’s happy she was given the opportunity and free time to better her work ethic and study habits and it has helped all through this year and will continue to help in college.

For some students this pandemic really opened their eyes. Some learned more about themselves and some learned more about the world around them. This applies to senior Emily Rose who wrote,  “I feel like I finally got to know myself because I had to spend time alone for so long.”

No pademic could put the LRHS community down. Through the hard work of the students and staff, the 2021 school year has been very different, but still a success. (Photos courtesy of the Lakeland Live Feed)

A lot can change in a year. 2020 was one for reflection and growth, as shown by these LRHS community responses. Though the past year has been one filled with the unknown, there’s hope that year two of the pandemic will be able to bring back some of the things that people love most. One thing’s for sure, 2020 will always be remembered. Here’s to another year of learning as life goes on.