Hollie Grimaldi Flores: School daze | TheUnion.com

Hollie Grimaldi Flores: School daze

I have been thinking about how hard it must be to be a student during a pandemic. I have spent plenty of time empathizing with the parents, but just imagine how challenging it must be to be young and trying (or required) to learn!

When I think about my school days, I think about passing notes, passing tests, and passing time. Those years in hallowed halls, were some of the best times of my life and paradoxically, also some of the worst. School was not the same for every person walking those locker lined hallways. Were you one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get to school? Was it your haven? Or was it torture? Was it where you felt most comfortable? Was it your social life? Were you there for the academics? Or, like many of the kids I knew, were you there for the extracurricular activities? Personally, I was a joiner.

When I was just starting out, in the early grades, I flourished. As the youngest of seven children, I had spent years yearning for the day I would climb onto the big yellow bus to be transported to the world of learning and get to meet friends. I loved going to school. And as much as I loved learning, I loved joining! I was in band, and choir (with apologies to those who had to hear me sing) and joined one club after another. I loved the feeling of belonging.

While I was never much for athletics, I was all for the feeling of being part of a team. I knew plenty of teenagers who survived math and science for the simple pleasure of an open field or the sound of sneakers on the wooden planks of the gym floor. I am feeling a bit of sympathy for the teens who are unable to join classmates for field trips, labs, shared ideas, and other experiences that will never be replaced. While introverts may be winning the day, there is little doubt these unusual circumstances are taking a toll on our kids.

Collectively, as a society, we are making both forced and voluntary sacrifices for the greater good of all. I believe the majority are acting in good faith, doing the best we can to get through this going-on-for-far- too-long, pandemic. The most stable among us are suffering from epidemic fatigue. We all want life to get back to the way it was — or at least the best parts of the life we had come to take for granted – but for students of all ages, I feel especially sad. These are supposed to be their glory days. Instead, it’s academics with limited extracurriculars. Performing arts are nonexistent and sports, try as they might, are fraught with the stressors of uncertainty.

My husband has been coaching football for nearly 25 years. During his tenure, there have been some incredibly high moments, with championships and titles culminating a season, and there have been incredibly low moments, when just one check in the win column would have been a high point. On both sides of that coin was countless hours of effort, sweat and tears. The kids work hard. The coaches’ work is boundless. Coaching is about so much more than the fundamentals of the sport. He will say everything you need to get through life is taught on a football field. Whether you agree with that statement or not (believe me when I say it has been debated in this house), the truth is that I have watched the development and growth of many, many young players as they journeyed from boy to man through the lens of football.

I am certain coaches and teachers can share many more similar experiences be it on a stage, a court or a diamond.

This past season has been especially difficult. In the world of football, there was nothing that could resemble practice for most of the year, and then the promise of a season, though limited in scope, was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark time. Young men gathered in the gym to build muscle and on the field to learn plays that might lead to a winning effort. Those games, for some, were also their only opportunity to showcase their talent to college recruiters. There was precious little opportunity for that, as the season ended abruptly after just two match ups.

The six scheduled games became a series of forfeits and delays and quarantining and cancellations. One win. One loss. And it was over. No more Friday night lights. No senior night.

I have seen my spouse incredibly disappointed after a matchup, but I have never seen him as disheartened as he was following the determination to end this season that almost wasn’t after just two contests. He has enough life experience to pull himself up and move forward, but for the young men who identify as players, it’s been difficult.

I have seen plenty of people who would not, under normal circumstance, buckle, who are buckling under the pressure of living in these unprecedented times. Tensions run high. Patience is in short supply. Life is hard. As adults it’s important for us to find the stamina to, at the very least, set a good example to our youth. In difficult times, we will persevere.

When those attending or graduating from school this year look back, I can’t imagine it will be with anything but the shake of a head in sheer disbelief. Did that really happen? When they share the stories of their days of school, it won’t be championships or prom but more likely funny mishaps on Zoom that will be shared. I think they all deserve a lot of grace.

I was never an advocate of the participation ribbon, but for today’s students, just getting through the year should come with ribbons and trophies and scholarships and unlimited amounts of ice cream! And soon, we will all get back out to play.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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