Saint Ignatius High School

Staying Connected From Afar

John Cugel '20 is the Student Senate president and a current senior at Saint Ignatius High School. As our world adjusts to changes due to current events, Cugel finds ways to remain positive in the face of adversity.
On March 12, 2020, students' lives changed all across the country. I remember seeing my friends that weekend, knowing that it would be a long while until I would be able to be with them again. After being out for the weekend, seeing friends and family and wishing them well during the COVID-19 quarantine, I entered my house Monday night, knowing that I would be spending a lot of time here with my parents.

At first, all of this did not seem quite real. It had just felt like a really long weekend that would soon come to an end. On Wednesday of that week, we started our online courses, which were very interesting at first. Seeing your classmates and teacher through a screen rather than in person has been a huge adjustment. Breaking my everyday routine has been very strange as well. I miss waking up at 6 a.m. sharp, getting dressed, picking up my friend, making a Phoenix Coffee run, doing the Tuesday morning announcements, all by 8 a.m. There was so much structure in a typical school day, which has now been left in our hands to maintain.

It is really challenging not being able to sit with my friends at lunch, or make a Phoenix run with them during 7th period. We had some of the best conversations sitting in the Senate office, senior lounge, or on the back patio at Phoenix. It is unfortunate that we may never be able to do those activities again as seniors, but I know that we will be able to have similar experiences as friends.

My friends and I have been staying in touch quite a bit during this time off. We are always texting in our group chats, Snapchatting, or talking over Facetime or Zoom. I have heard that other people also stay in touch through playing video games online together, writing letters to each other, and other ways that don’t involve physical interaction. It is wonderful knowing that students all across the country are still finding ways to stay social during a period of social distancing.

The Senior Class Senate came up with a way for students to stay social and connected to our school through the COVID-19 Connected Project. Through Google Folders, students are able to upload content to stay connected with their friends and community. A prompt will be sent out each week, and students are asked to respond to that through a picture or video. Students, faculty and staff are also able to upload suggestions for movies, songs, or activities during the time away in that folder. We hope that this will make a difference by helping kids stay connected with each other, while keeping them engaged in activities.

In most ways, the COVID-19 situation in our world is terrible. It has disrupted plans left and right, and has the world in a state of panic. Despite all of the negativity, I have been trying to look at this experience through a different lens. Maybe this is a time where we learn to appreciate how thankful we are for the relationships, experiences, and privileges that we have in our lives. For example, I have learned to love and appreciate the experience Saint Ignatius High School brings to me everyday. Being away from school has helped me realize that it is so much more than just a school – it is a loving community and helping hand for so many students and people in the greater Cleveland area.