EDITOR’S NOTE: Connor Gatehouse is the 17-year-old son of Susan Gatehouse, founder and CEO of Axea Solutions, a member of the ICD10monitor editorial board, and a popular panelist on Talk Ten Tuesdays.
The coronavirus has affected me and many other teenagers in various ways. At first, it seemed we would return to school within two weeks of the initial dismissal. As the virus continued to spread, the remaining school year was cancelled. Looking back, it was a strange feeling in that nobody knew it would be the last day of school, the last time some people would see some of their peers.
At first, I didn’t really mind the online work, because it was minimal in comparison to classroom time. I found it to be much easier. However, I question how much I will retain for next year. I soon started to miss school and lacrosse. It really was a letdown, because our season was going so well. We had just beaten the team that had knocked us out of the playoffs last year. I also felt bad for the seniors whose last season of high-school lacrosse was cut short, as well as their school year. Prom and graduation were also canceled. Families found creative ways to celebrate graduation, which was encouraging, but very strange in comparison to the traditional setting.
For the first two weeks of no school, I would hang out with my friends and go about life normally. Cases in Forsyth County (Georgia) and surrounding areas started to rise, and shortly thereafter I was stuck at home. I would go out every couple of days to practice lacrosse at a local park with two of my friends. Unfortunately, the parks closed, and I found myself playing video games more often than before. I found it odd that what I used to find entertaining was now boring. I felt like time didn’t really mean anything to me, because I felt I lacked purpose. My mom lectured me on the importance of taking care of myself and creating a schedule so I would stay productive and healthy.
It was nice spending time with my family, but I missed my friends and activities. None of my friends could leave the house, and luckily, during this time I had a girlfriend I could hang out with often. Neither of us went out in public, and we would just go from each other's houses so we could still be allowed to hang out. I almost forgot what it was like to go anywhere other than my house or her house.
When I eventually went to the store weeks later, it was like something out of a movie. They took my temperature and I had to wear a mask. Lots of shelves had been cleared out, and some of the groceries I normally buy were completely gone. As time went on and the cases eventually decreased, I was able to see more of my friends. I found ways to get out of the house and limit my exposure to the virus. For example, when the weather got warmer, I went to the lake with my grandfather and had lots of fun. Slowly but surely, the cases in my area were decreasing, and it seemed like almost everyone was cooperating by wearing masks and social distancing.
Throughout the beginning months of COVID, I found that many of my habits that benefitted my well-being had completely stopped. I no longer worked out or ate healthy… or even exercised at all. Just two weeks ago, my gym opened back up, so I have been frequently going to resume my healthy habits. Life is starting to seem like it’s slowly going back to normal, though we still have a long way to go. I’m happier now that I get to see my friends, plan adventures, and hang out with them. School is officially over, so I don’t have to worry about lingering assignments.
Despite the disruption, I finished the school year with good grades. Thankfully, the teachers were understanding with the situation and were extremely helpful despite the challenges with online learning. Overall, at the beginning of the pandemic, I missed socializing, but we are all finding our new norm. Also, my golf game has improved, as it was one of the sports that was not significantly affected. My grandfather and mom continue to tell me that this is history, and I need to write about it and save newspapers so I will remember this when I have a family. Indeed, this pandemic has affected all of us, some more than others. I am fortunate that I was not as affected as dramatically as others, who have watched their parent(s) lose jobs or businesses. The outcome of a pandemic had much more of an impact that I would have imagined. I am hopeful it is coming to an end.
Connor Gatehouse is a rising senior at South Forsyth High School. He enjoys lacrosse, golf, and wakeboarding. His favorite subject in school is history. Connor plans on taking two online classes this summer in preparation for his senior year. Fortunately, Connor will have a light course load next year and will be afforded the opportunity to participate in a work study program through school. This affords him the experience of working with a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia.