The Holy Spirit School  eighth graders: Michael Mann (l.) and Ethan Leverone.
The Holy Spirit School eighth graders: Michael Mann (l.) and Ethan Leverone.

Surviving middle school is tough, even on a good day. There are personalities to navigate, assignments to balance, doubts to quiet and more. Set these challenges against the backdrop of a global pandemic, and you’ve got one complicated school experience.

In the era of COVID-19, there are myriad commentaries from experts. But at Holy Spirit School (HSS) in East Greenbush, we think it’s time to hear from the students. What is it like to go to school in 2020?

Allie Trimarchi explains that “school during Covid is difficult, but Holy Spirit students know how to make things more positive!” Gianna Granich agrees, adding “I like being in school … because (seeing) my friends in person every day is really fun. I like knowing that I can interact with them and talk to them about anything that interests us.”

Ethan Leverone “likes spending time with (his) friends at homeroom, laughing (and that he has his own space and can keep his supplies nearby.)” Antonio Morabito highlights that “social interaction is a big part of school, (making it) more than just listening to a teacher.” For Meagan Remington, “it is really nice being able to be in school and being able to hang out and talk with friends. It’s just different this year, because we have dividers and are wearing masks.”

Adelina Quade, recognizes that “everyone is trying their best to keep us all socially distant, but wearing masks all the time is not the most fun thing in the world and people are tired of having to hand sanitize all the time and talk loudly through plastic barriers.”
Echoing the idea of distance between people, Zackary Palmer is concerned that “we can’t help each other pick up stuff which someone dropped, as a way to show friendship.”

Such social distancing requirements have also impacted the recess routine, essentially doing away with fan faves like “Knockout” and “Tag.”  But James Thoma still manages to have fun shooting hoops and playing Four Square with his friends,” while kids of all ages create art with chalk, jump rope and toss a football around.

Michael Mann is quick to note that “the teachers at Holy Spirit are very understanding and can acknowledge what it is like to be in a pandemic.” Bella Wurzburg adds, “the teachers are so nice and help you more than at other schools.” Remington explains that “the teachers have done things to make the students feel special,” thinking creatively to promote fun and relieve stress.

“Holy Spirit is doing a good job of keeping all of the students and teachers safe,” offers Hayden Avery.  Even with the changes, “this school year is so much better than online school.” Isaac Naples agrees, noting that “being at school in Holy Spirit is better because learning at home comes with too many distractions and loads of things that could go wrong with the internet.”

Granich is grateful that “Holy Spirit has taken the right precautions, like temperature checks in the morning, and hand sanitizer reminders, so we are able to be back in school.”

While Mann is concerned “that the virus will get in our circle and we will have to quarantine for two weeks,” he remains “confident that the procedures, which (Principal) Mr. (Michael) Kosar and the rest of the school put in place, will keep us safe.” Mann appreciates “the hard work the (staff) and custodians have put in to prep the school for the return of students.”  

This return is especially important to Mia Pageau. She explains “if you have been learning at home, it can be very lonely because you don’t get the opportunity to be with your friends or teachers.” She shares that “without my friends or family, I feel like a part of me is missing. That’s why I am very grateful to have such good friends and that my family is always there for me.”

These students and many others at HSS are grateful to be back and learning in person at their second home. They know, as Trimarchi explains, that “even in these uncertain times, Holy Spirit School will be there for us.”

Information for this article was provided by ELA students from Holy Spirit School. Contributors include sixth graders (Allie Trimarchi, Gianna Granich, Zackary Palmer, James Thoma and Hayden Avery), seventh graders (Antonio Morabito, Isaac Naples, Adelina Quade, Mia Pageau, Meagan Remington and Bella Wurzburg) and eighth graders (Michael Mann and Ethan Leverone).