My phone reminded me that today was supposed to be the 2020 Midwood Science Fair. It even gave me a heads up so I'd have enough time to get there by public transit.
This time with the coronavirus is something like I have never experienced before. This pandemic is affecting everyone in the world and it seems as though it has become our new norm. Everything is different. School has been so stressful in addition to having so much to think about and deal with at home. Prior to the start of the lock down in March, I was battling an illness that left me in severe pain for weeks. I still had to push through with going to school and getting my work done. I still had to do my work in between hospital visits, hours of agony, and complete emotional disposition. My gloomy mood and constant pain makes me unmotivated to do school work and I feel as though I am just floating by day by day. To add fuel to the flames, so many close family members and friends are being affected by COVID-19 and it truly has become draining. My cousin has been in a coma, and no one can go see him due to hospital visitation rules. This time has been depressing. I am so distracted with what is going on personally, that it is truly hard to focus academically. I am persevering everyday to get through everything. But it has been hard.
Naffisat Atanda (Class of 2020)
Due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, schools in New York City have been shut down since March 16. It has become evident that students have been struggling to adjust to online classes. Teachers are trying their best to be more lenient because they are aware of the troubles Covid-19 has brought upon families. I can confirm that for many of my peers these are hard times. The sudden change in schedule due to Covid-19 has had a negative impact on everyone. Students are finding it hard to wake up early, finish their assignments on time, and deal with personal problems. As a result, school assignments and tests have become hard to handle. The growing pile of assignments due at 11:59 pm causes anxiety and adds stress to an already bad situation.
In order to deal with the stress, my peers and I worked together to create a schedule that is similar to school. It is important to keep a good routine to stay healthy and productive. We wake up by 8-10 am, eat breakfast, and write everything that needs to be done during the day in a planner. The assignments are spread out throughout the day and in between other responsibilities. When a student cannot finish an assignment, we encourage them to submit it as soon as possible and not to worry too much. If a situation is very hard to handle, we encourage them to email their teachers and try to get as much help as possible. These times are hard and in order to get through this, we need to try our best to help one another. If you need help, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Anum Jabeen (Class of 2020)
I work with Dr. Frank Grasso in the Biomimetic and Cognitive Robotics (BCR) Lab at Brooklyn College. In this lab, we study the behavior of invertebrate animals such as fiddler crabs, axolotls, octopuses along with other animals such as monk parakeets. Lab members also participate in various robotic experiments related to animal behavior. I specifically work with fiddler crabs and their social behavior. Before COVID-19, all members of the lab were required to attend general meetings. These meetings were held to ensure that everyone was aware of the changes made in the lab and the tasks that needed to be done next week were assigned. I would attend the lab regularly and spend approximately 10–15 hours each week. It was a friendly and informative environment.
In addition, group meetings related to our projects were also held to give researchers feedback on their projects. Although schools and colleges have been shut down due to COVID-19, the BCR lab is still active since we were able to transition from our physical lab onto a virtual platform. All the animal systems that were present in the lab were shut down due to the pandemic. The axolotls that we studied in the lab are now safe with Dr. Grasso who now takes care of them at his house. With the abundance of data that was observed and recorded in our lab, we have no shortage of work to get done. The use of resources such as DropBox, email, and Zoom meetings for communication is a must. Due to everyone's dedication to the lab, this transition has gone smoothly.
Mariyum Jahan (Class of 2020)
The quarantine has caused many to become stressed and anxious. Lowering your stress levels means maintaining good health practices, therefore it is important to take care of your physicsl and mental health. Stress is even more prevalent today and to prevent it from becoming a health issue, it is important to distract yourself. Whether it is participating in baking or TikTok challenges or napping for about an hour a day, facetiming friends, or cooking with your family. You can clean or decorate your room too. Change things up in the house.
It is important to get rid of the stressors. Watch the news less often or at least play it in the background. Take up a new hobby and have a Netflix party with your friends and family. Also, make sure to at least exercise 20 minutes a day; you can incorporate exercise into your routine. Do squats or burpees while you are cleaning tall surfaces, do the side plank when you are cleaning under your bed, or do a yoga pose anytime you are warming something up in the microwave. Exercise doesn't have to be boring.
Tanzena Haque (Class of 2020)
Do you feel overwhelmed? As though your mind is flooded with never ending error messages? Well, it's no wonder that many of us struggle with feelings of boredom, uneasiness, and frustration — especially right now. The American Anxiety and Depression Association stated that one of the best ways to relieve stress is through physical activity. Namely, cardio exercises such as jogging or walking. However, this way of dealing with the quarantine might not be accessible to everyone. Some people live in more crowded areas where social distancing while going on a brisk walk is not feasible. But there are other ways to manage stress levels. Alternatives include getting enough sleep (and going to bed at the right time), eating clean meals without too much junk food, laughing often, practicing at home yoga, and spending time with family. Moreover, diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing, can trigger a response in the body that relaxes our muscles and slows down our heart rate. Remember, that during an unusual situation like this, we must make an emphasis to take care of our mental and emotional wellbeing. And that means making sure that our mind isn't flooded with error messages.
Nadzeya Fliaha (Class of 2020)
Many people have been impacted by this coronavirus harder than others. Midwood students can find academic relief through this time through the new guidelines by Chancellor Richard Carranza and Chief Academic Officer Linda Chen. For all NY high school students: there will be traditional grades and grade point average, but there's also an option for students to choose to have a "passing" grade instead of a traditional grade, which won't impact their overall GPA. Furthermore, If some students need more time in completing their work, there will be a "Course In Progress" selection and students from 9th to 11th grade will have until January 2021 to make up work. Students can also reach out to their teachers and counselors through email if they need assistance in their academic work.
If students are bored, or want to be more involved in school activities they can right from their couch. Despite the absence of physical meetings of club members, there will be online activities and through Microsoft Teams. The clubs that have begun online activities are Badminton Club, Cultural Diversity, Drama, Girls Who Code, KJC, Mental Health Awareness Club, and UNICEF. For more information on new online student activities follow Midwood Student Council on Instagram.
Ihtsham Chaudhry (Class of 2020)
During my junior year of high school, my friend and I joined a SUNY Downstate lab, where we analyzed and compiled data. One day I noticed that one of the tests looked extremely strange. Being new to the lab, I was hesitant to notify the professor so I shared the error with my friend. We thought we were simply mistaken in our analysis, however, as new batches of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) arrived we noticed the same trend. At that point, we brought the issue up to our professor who then instructed us to figure out what went wrong. After some digging, we found that the microplate reader used to analyze the Griess assay was broken and was why we were getting strange results. My and my partner's realization ended saving the lab a lot of time by preventing them from continuing to use a broken machine.
Inexperienced or not you can still contribute.
Daniel Drozdov (Class of 2020)
Sleeping in until noon everyday used to be the stuff of my dreams. As it turns out, the consequences of doing such on a daily basis are much harsher than I'd imagined. What started as a nonchalant habit of turning in at midnight and waking up at 1:00 PM quickly turned into an unbreakable cycle of eyes tearing at the blue light of my phone screen until 4:00 in the morning and waking up well past lunch time. I was groggy during the day, and inexhaustible at night. My circadian rhythm laughed in my face whenever I tried to close my eyes. I couldn't take it anymore, and I knew what had to be done. I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. I would get up so early that my body would be unable to fight the tiredness come evening. As the sky slowly paled, I fought my every instinct to hit snooze and met the sun at my window. I watched it ascend, the only person awake in my home, and started my day. I did yoga, I made dalgona coffee, I read books, I did homework, I baked cookies, I… I… I was curled fast asleep by 9:00 PM.
Alyssa Kattan (Class of 2020)
If people aren't laughing, they're definitely smiling. For a lot of people, me included, it's been hard to wake up and do things. These people are showing us that they're still trying. They continue to put themselves out there to connect with us at home.
For the first week I posted announcements about how remote learning would go or recaps of emails sent by the school. Later I started getting messages from students telling me they missed hearing the announcements. So, I made a short clip of myself "doing the announcements" and posted it on my Instagram story on the second week of quarantine. It was a way to maintain morale. The responses to these short Instagram stories I do every Monday have been overwhelmingly positive. One person said "this is what I look forward to every week, hearing you speak brightens up my day." And that's exactly why I do it!
Tanisa Rahman (Class of 2020)
What are Staff Spotlights? The Student Council decided to conduct interviews with Midwood's staff to make the students feel connected to the school and strengthen the online Hornet community. The idea came after a video conference with Mr. McDonnell on April 16. Before the meeting, we asked students online if they had any questions they wanted us to bring up to the Principal.
While some pertinent questions were addressed, we also asked some mundane questions, like, what shows are you binging? We were amused by the answers, I mean, what do we really know about the people we see everyday?
The following week we conducted our very first interview with Mr. Padula who volunteered to participate. It was obvious that even Mr. Padula missed the kids. He even followed up with a thank you email! The first video has received comments like, "This is better than the Kardashians". I'm excited to speak to more teachers about how they're passing time and sharing these moments as IGTVs with the rest of the community.
Tanisa Rahman (Class of 2020)
This is one of four Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispensers gifted to my household by my father. This dispenser is located between my room and my brothers' room on the second floor of my home.
For a little under a week during the beginning of this unkind quarantine I suffered from a harsh cold full of hot flashes, congestion, seemingly endless sneezes and restless nights. My mother, a cautious RN now working from home, forced me into a quarantine inside of a quarantine. But on this day she cheerfully called me from my personal isolation ward (my room) to show me our newest home installation — this Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispenser. Our laughter instantly filled the hallway, quickly followed by my sneezes which was even more quickly followed by me being shoved back into isolation.
I am better now, thankfully.
Serena Duran (Class of 2020)
Ever since the quarantine started on March 15th, all of us have been staying home for a little more than a month now. Every day I hear ambulances, FDNY and police sirens, the "wee-woo" approaching my block with a Doppler effect. Most of the time, I'm able to see ambulance trucks right outside of my house, tending to my neighbors. In order to avoid a build up of fear, from thinking too much about the virus, I started learning how to cook and bake. I've even started to pick up my guitar and learn some tunes from Yousician! This quarantine has turned many couch potatoes like myself, into future MasterChef contestants, musicians, artists, housekeepers, computer science geniuses and more. Staying at home has made me feel thankful for all of the essential workers across the US, especially in NYC. I know that NYC has had the hardest hit from COVID-19, while states like Pennsylvania are at a slightly less impact, as said from my friends back in PA. However, I know for a fact that we will all be able to fight against this virus and eventually return to our normal lives post-quarantine. Continue social distancing and wear masks!
Emily Ly (Class of 2020)
Quarantine, lockdown, and social distancing are currently enforced in many countries around the world. This has caused a slowdown of the economy as less people become employed, less items are produced and consumed, less services are required, and less people roam the streets. Amidst the silence, nature still speaks. As we limit our consumption of products, our production of waste, and our outdoor activities, nature has moved into our place. The earth has continued to adapt in our absence.
Air pollution has decreased drastically as factories produce less, transportation falls to a minimum, and powerplants cater to less businesses. Cities have been seen to clear of smog which reintroduces health benefits that couldn't have existed otherwise. The consequences of illegal wildlife trading and bushmeat consumption are now quite clear, reducing their prevalence and popularity. Wild boar, turkeys, deer, goats, monkeys, coyotes, pumas, and alligators have been spotted exploring the blocks. Humpback whales have been found closer to the shores of France and fish were seen to navigate the canals of Venice. Notwithstanding the destructive effects of the virus, the indirect impact it has had on nature should be cherished.
Henry Hua (Class of 2020)
I work in Dr. Grasso's lab at Brooklyn College studying monk parakeets. Once a week I would go on parrot patrol where I would take the bus from Brooklyn College to the colony on Avenue O near 65th Street where I would record and photograph the nests and parrot activity. Afterwards I would head back to the lab and put all the data on the computer. On other days we would have long meetings that would go on for around 2 hours where we all discussed our research projects. Overall the time that I spent in the lab would be equivalent to one school day.
However, when all schools were closed and quarantine was enacted we had to make some quick changes. Dropbox has always been an important part of the lab where we would upload our slides, but now we can't live without it. Dropbox is now where we upload slides, score videos, and save and share our work with Dr. Grasso. Two times a week we have meetings with Dr. Grasso on Zoom which are longer than when we were in Brooklyn College. As a result of quick thinking everyone is still able to continue conducting their experiments.
Meghan Stern (Class of 2020)
Three weeks ago my grandmother went out for some fresh air. Little did we know that those few minutes of being outside would be the end of her. A few days after going out for a walk my grandmother had developed a severe fever. On March 16, my dad had taken her to the hospital where they ran several tests including the one for the coronavirus. They brought her home where she had to isolate herself from the rest of us. Over the next couple of days she started to lose her appetite, had trouble breathing and was not talking to anyone. Deep down we all feared the same thing. On Sunday, March 22, my father had just come home from her house when my aunt had called saying that she was having cold sweats. She was taken to the hospital and the next thing we knew she was brain dead, put onto a ventilator and was gone by the following morning.
It all happened so fast. I don't think any of us had expected these past several weeks to go by like this. It is heartbreaking to see the increase in casualties everyday. You know no one really ever expects this kind of thing to happen to anyone and once it does it really hits you hard. I know we are all scared, but we must be strong. I know we all wanna go outside and enjoy the nice weather but trust me don't. Don't risk it. We all have to do our part by staying inside. I have faith and I have hope that we are going to get through this, together. Stay safe everyone.
Noor Mohammad (Class of 2020)
In light of the rapid spread and dangerous symptoms of COVID-19, Mayor DeBlasio still fought to keep NYC public schools open until it was absolutely necessary. The humongous school system not only helped keep track of minors throughout the boroughs, giving parents time to work, but it also kept millions of children and families fed with nutritious meals each day. Now that the official lockdown has begun, these meals are the only thing I leave my home for. I never expected to rely on the school system, and as I walk to my old elementary school it's strange to see how so much could change within a month. Just a few weeks ago, there was a kind crossing guard and now I'm not allowed into the school building so a security guard has to pass me the meals for my siblings and I.
Back home, eating the nostalgia-filled lunches with my family makes me think of the last time I had one, two years ago. It's as if I'm sitting in the school cafeteria with my family eating pretzels and PBJ sandwiches on the nights my parents can't cook dinner. These meals have brought my family together in vulnerable times in the past and will continue to until this virus is controlled.
Defne Sener (Class of 2020)
For the last 2 years, I have been working in Dr. Delamater's lab at Brooklyn College. Unlike many psychology labs, this lab features behavioral experiments from Ivan Pavlov's times in the late 1800s. I would conduct these experiments in operant conditioning chambers with Long-Evans rats as my subjects. The first set of experiments I worked on focused on the phenomenon of extinction. Recently, I finished an experiment about associative memory and how it affects behavior. Usually, my lab would have different people such as my mentor, the graduate students, and other high school students who come in and work on projects. Although it would be rare for all of us to be in the lab at the same time, now it's impossible. Currently, the lab is practicing social distancing and only my mentor, graduate student, and animal caretaker are allowed in at different times. High school students such as myself are not allowed in the lab currently, in order to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
Jasmine Huang (Class of 2020)
As a child have you ever wondered about what those college brochure people are doing wearing lab safety equipment and holding a pipette or looking into a microscope? What they are doing in the lab is called research — an investigation or a study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach a conclusion. Research allows one to open their creative mind to do anything that they wish. Most vaccines, medicines, diseases that have been cured, prevention of recurring diseases, treatments of ongoing illnesses, MRI, X-rays, birth control, and DNA have all come down to research. Without research, we would all die from an illness or we would not be able to predict when there is a storm to hit us.
"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought." – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Victoria Habbchy (Class of 2020)
Never would I have thought that COVID-19 would take away the last few months of my senior year. It feels so surreal, but as time goes on everything feels more like a reality. This pandemic has already caused much panic and disbelief in altering everyone's lifestyle. For us, it would be the transition from classroom style teaching to online zoom teaching, and the everyday interactions that turned into social distancing. Since the closing of NYC public schools on March 15, my parents have been stocking up on the necessities like food and toiletries. Stores like Costco have been rampaged against. This problem is a worldwide issue. COVID-19 has already affected 199 countries and territories with 708,020 world cases and growing. As of March 25, case counts in the US have exceeded China and Italy. However, that is not to say that there are not positive benefits. In China, for example, satellite images show a reduction of nitrogen dioxide pollution in the atmosphere. Similarly, in Italy, with the lock down, the canal waterways began to clear up. New discoveries have been made, one in particular of using drugs like chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat patients that have this virus. During times like this, the best way to stay calm is to not spread false information and to stay home.
Tiffany Ngo (Class of 2020)