That faithful week of that Friday the 13th came around. I had seen on the News about the Covid-19 virus and how everyone would have to take a 2-week break. Yay! A two-week break from school. I don’t need to worry about homework. Although it seemed exciting, none of us expected the “2-week break” to last a whole year and a half. Within that year and a half, I had Diana as an English teacher in 11th grade. When I had initially met Diana back in 10th grade, I had only heard stories of her teaching skills from my fellow upperclassmen. The two weeks were up, and before we knew it, we were starting a new year virtually. I think everyone had either found themselves creatively or caught themselves through a downwards spiral.
We know her and we love her, Diana Vlavianos Stark, our fellow English teacher. When we in America had first heard about CoronaVirus, Diana had already known about it and was nervous about it because of the coverage she was seeing on Reddit. : “Every day I was scared about when this virus would inevitably hit us in America. And sure enough, right after February break, things started to get bad here. There wasn’t enough coverage and there weren’t enough answers about what was going on.”
Everyone can relate to this initial fear of this unknown virus that was taking place in this country, especially as we would soon be forced to all stay home. This fear went around and had many of us feeling safe only in the shelter of our own homes. As far as Diana could tell us, she took precautions, as she had lost a close family member to Covid: “The death of my family member was definitely jarring. These statistics are not just numbers...they are human beings, and many of the people I know were also affected by Covid losses.”
We can all say we have all lost a loved one or someone we knew, because of Covid.
A return to normalcy was tough after a year and a half at home, and returning to the school building was exciting, but also daunting for many. Most of us can say that we didn’t want to expose ourselves to Covid, especially for those of us who live with elders or people who are more prone to the virus than most of us are.
We are lucky to be at a small school like TYWLS-Astoria, where safety is taken seriously, and mental health is discussed. Diana recalls the words of a recent staff training that all teachers attended through the Student Leadership Network: “Normalize everything isn’t perfect, and accept your feelings so that you can set boundaries, and communicate your fears so we can work together to cope.” Wise words from our school’s network, that we should all keep in mind this year, and beyond.