The stress of the pandemic began to be eased for 14 Verona High School students on May 21, as they gathered in the VHS courtyard for a movie night. Whispers and giggles filled the silence as “The Emperor’s New Groove” played in the background. Students were happy to have some sense of normalcy.
In the days since movie night, students have been excited to see that in-person events like prom, the senior banquet, senior lunch and graduation are in the works, if not already happening. There were many guidelines to be followed for these events, like prom, where students had to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Once at the prom, if you were comfortable enough, you were allowed to take off your mask. There was dancing, laughter and, most importantly, a sense of normalcy.
With more and more people getting vaccinated, Breianna Magardino, a VHS senior, says she has had to adjust her thinking when she sees a group of maskless people. Her voice fluctuated, seeming almost pessimistic, “they might be vaccinated, they might be taking their safety precautions.” As Verona’s vaccination rate neared 60% this past week, it is still fair to question the safety precautions people are taking. Everyone is going through their own battles. It seems these days, even before COVID, teens have been affected the most.
Most people have not been able to hug or really be around their friends in over a year. This has negatively affected the overall mental health of everyone, especially pre-teens and teens. Abigail McAneney, another senior, says that not seeing people in person took a toll on her mental health. “I struggled with my mental health a lot over the pandemic,” she says “My favorite thing to do was either listen to music or read. It helped me forget about things that I was stressed about.” For McAneney, the May movie night was a chance gave students the opportunity to see each other in a public setting, and the social interaction gave students the feeling of togetherness, instead of loneliness.
In general, introverts enjoy being alone. However, this year and half long pandemic has forced even the most dedicated of introverts to do things they would never expect themselves to do. For example, doing a job that requires them to leave the house. VHS senior Hannah Davey got a job to help fight the feeling of being alone. “I just missed seeing people’s faces,” she says.
And that’s why, on movie night, the movie was not the center of attention. The 14 students who came enjoyed each other’s company and the boost of serotonin. Some students went to the movie because their friend was there and others went to destress. Students left happy and hopeful for the sense of normalcy to continue.