August 13, 2020
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Part VIII: Life behind the closed door

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
May 15, 2020

We are closing out the second month of sheltering in place. Our story this week brings us the voice and perspective of a graduating high school senior. Although she spoke just for herself, I’m sure many of her peers and their families will relate to her words. Obviously in her teens, she still lives with her parents and sibling in Rohnert Park. She is young and active. She isn’t in a high-risk group, healthy and no underlying medical issues. Nevertheless, she has had her life interrupted at what is a pivotable period for launch into adulthood.

Like the rest of her class, she will miss senior activities. No senior trip to the beach. No senior picnic. She had her date and dress for prom, but there will be no prom this year. She won’t be able to walk the stage and get her diploma. She will especially miss Project Graduation at the community center. She said that event really helps the graduating class bond closer together before they depart on their separate ways. 

She will graduate, however. She’s a good online learner but she worries about some of her classmates. The use of technology for online learning varies widely for both the students and their teachers. Some of her classmates are struggling. Some are giving up. Some teachers are doing amazing things with the technology, but others aren’t as successful. Initially attendance was taken but as the weeks go on the incentives are disappearing. All will graduate as their grades for their final three months will not be lower than the grade they earned back in the previous semester. So, if you had a B in a class then, your grade won’t be lower than a B now. 

She has been working for about 18 months at a fast food restaurant. So, she isn’t completely cooped up at home. She can go to work. She has also made some coffee trips using the drive through. She has also taken a few bike rides around the neighborhood. “I go crazy” she said. As a highly active person she can’t make her trips to Armstrong Woods or Taylor Mountain to hike. She can’t go to the beach either. When home she finds herself walking in circles in her room or the kitchen. She tries to do crafts or other activities to stay busy. 

Work has been stressful. They’ve been super busy with to go and drive thru orders. Her restaurant is making record amounts because other dining out options aren’t as available. She didn’t lose any hours. If anything, she gained them. The company is looking forward to opening inside dining, but many employees aren’t. Many think it’s still too soon. Her view is “normalizing is bound to come” but when the time comes, she feels “people will be extra cautious.”

Like many in her generation, they use SnapChat to stay in touch and she FaceTimes with close friends. There have also been a few drive byes to celebrate classmates’ birthdays. She said she is eating more and without exercise she fears the weight gain. She is also staying up later; yet getting up earlier too. So, she’s getting less sleep than usual. The future is uncertain. She was planning to go away from home for college and live in a dorm. She has her application and reservation packets ready. If they just offer online classes because of the virus, that will be “a really big bummer!” She’ll stay at home to start her freshman year of college. 

It hasn’t been all darkness. Yes, she spends more time with family. She said she is also more self-aware and able to do self-care. This period of shelter in place has given her time to think about the things she has, to appreciate them and not take them for granted. She mentioned her grandparents as an example. She misses seeing them in person and when this is over will appreciate the ability to do so. The time has also allowed her to think about how she can be a better person in the future.

As always, I want to thank her for sharing her story with us. It’s not easy to share your story. If you’re interested in sharing your story with me for future use, you can contact me at Until next week, be well and stay safe and healthy.