Friday the 13th can often be considered to be an unlucky day. As a Year 8 student at Loreto, Friday 13th March 2020 was to be the last time I sat in a classroom situation, laughed and walked with my friends down the school corridors, ate my lunch in the canteen and travelled home on Ulster bus. As my school principal rightly said ‘these really are unprecedented times’.
These last three months have been surreal. I never could have imagined that a pandemic could have threatened our very existence. I have learned to become so resilient and tried not to worry about what lay ahead. I felt many lows in the first few weeks at not being able to see my friends, my grandparents. My whole routine of getting up on weekdays at 7.30am changed quickly. Also, I soon realized I had to look at the positives of my life. I love to bake so I focused on that skill which my family appreciated. I never before had time to go for long walks without it being on a schedule. I enjoyed the calmness of this. I miss my football training and camogie. Especially the whole team element.
My family are one of the units I really started to appreciate more. My mum is a teacher so she kept the whole day structured around school routine. I liked this as it meant that everything was organized in some way. Also, it meant that the weekend was different from the rest of the week. My dad had to continue working through most of the pandemic as he runs his own business and they were identified as being key workers. If there was a power cut or line damaged, he was on call. I appreciated my sisters so much during this time. The fun and excitement were never short in our home. I missed the visits from my extended family and especially my Grandad.
My community proved instrumental through the pandemic. The NHS saved lives throughout the whole of the north. The leadership from politicians ensured the smooth running of services during this time. Our GAA club organised food drops to help the local SVP society to feed the aged and vulnerable. It was nice to see people work together to help others.
My faith was tested at the start of this as suddenly a virus in China reached our small island. I thought, how could God allow this to happen? Yet I continued to attend Mass every Sunday morning virtually at 11am and I found comfort in listening to the words of the priest. My prayers helped me stay happy and not to fear the days ahead.
My experience of lockdown has been rather good so far. I have kept myself busy and lockdown has given me the chance to de-stress from my hectic, busy life. I have the chance to do things I enjoy that I never had time for before; for example, yesterday I baked a lemon drizzle cake, did some gardening, went for a cycle and fixed the fence in one of our fields, all of which I would never have dreamed of having the time to do.
I keep myself busy every day by home schooling. Home schooling is quite enjoyable in my opinion, it means I can continue learning and preparing for my GCSE’s next year. I like how I can create my own schedule and work at a time that suits me. Another bonus to home schooling is that I will never forget a book (which happens at school way too often!)
The negatives of home schooling for me is when all the teachers send me work at the same time on a Monday morning and you have to try find a balance of how to evenly spread out the work over the coming week. The work can be baffling at times too, as there is no teacher present to explain it so it’s sort of like teaching yourself. However, overall I am enjoying this new experience of home schooling despite whatever difficulties that come with it.
I miss being at school every day (but I definitely do not miss getting up every morning at 7am). I miss seeing all my friends and I miss my class and how we would be spending our last 2 months together as 10A4 before being split up in September.
I really miss my family as well; I have a total of 7 vulnerable people in my family, so I don’t get to see most of them at all. Every day I cycle to my granny’s house and wave to her from outside her window, then I would start to maybe cut her grass or trim a hedge. It really makes her day whenever my brother or I call with her. My brother is 18 in 2 weeks, so my family were thinking of throwing him a party with a barbeque and cake (but with only my family attending of course) so at least that’s something to look forward too!
I am very lucky to live right next to the Gortin Glens, so even though the park is closed, there is lots of neighbouring forests for me to explore. I am also very grateful for ‘Zoom,’- the app lets my zoom some of my friends that don’t have FaceTime and it is fun to have a chat with them. It brings a bit of normality to my lockdown life.
Altogether, I am enjoying my lockdown experience, but I can’t wait until the day I get to go through the Loreto gates!
Being in lockdown can have its ups and downs, and I’ve had my fair share of them. I mostly spend my days lounging around the house, completely bored out of my mind; or during other days – I am stressed to the max with the homework. So, I’m going to be sharing my story in lockdown.
The good and the bad of being home-schooled: I was thrilled when I learned that we had to stay home, because I thought that meant that we wouldn’t get a lot of work. (Boy, was I wrong). I liked being taught at home because of the fact that we could sleep most of the day away and then just leave the work until later. The fact that we wouldn’t have to put on the uniform and carry that heavy bag around was a plus too. I was also quite relieved that we didn’t have to do any video calls for class, like some schools did.
Online school can be a dread sometimes. Lifting up your phone or looking at your computer and seeing all those notifications from Teams can really dampen your mood. And the fact that you could fall behind on all of your work if you just miss one. It really makes me panic more than I actually should.
On a way to pass the time, I spend most of the time in the kitchen trying to cook. I watch TV or listen to music (and sometimes even learn choreographies to those songs). But I spend the majority of my time with my family, catching up on family time that I could never get when there was no lockdown. So I guess, I have lockdown to thank for getting even closer to my family.
I miss a lot of people because of lockdown. Mostly my friends though. I never realised how dull things can be if I didn’t see my friends, in person, quite often. Of course, we have social media to help – but it’s just not the same as it usually is. I miss being able to spend time with them outside of school or even just messing around during school. Speaking of school, I actually do miss school; which is a sentence that I thought I would never say, but it is very true. I miss learning in the classrooms and having fun with the teachers too. It feels weird without school, which just makes me miss it more.
I stay hopeful every day, that lockdown and corona can finally be over and I can see my friends and be in school. A lot of people are suffering because of this, whether they are front-line workers and their families, people who have Covid-19, or just people feeling the same way I do. And I pray that everyone is staying safe, and also look forward to the day we can be normal again.
My experience of lockdown has been quite relaxing, but I can’t wait to be able to see my family and friends and to go to school.
Home schooling has been okay for me. It’s nice to do your work at home and in comfy clothes but on the other hand it’s been difficult to stay focused and motivated to do my work.
I have been exercising a lot in our workout space in our garage to pass the time. I’ve also been outside in the garden playing football with my brothers and netball with my Mum. I’ve learned to cook new dishes and bake new things and I didn’t even set off the fire alarm doing so. My family and I have been having game nights every other night and mini football matches in the garden.
I miss my wider family a lot and I miss football and all the girls at football. I miss my all my friends and can’t wait to see them.
I have been staying hopeful by spending time with my brothers and Mum, and Face Timing my relatives and all the girls at football and some school friends. I’m never in the house usually with club football and Tyrone football and then netball and helping out my granny, so I’m enjoying spending time with my family during lockdown.
In conclusion, my experience in lockdown has been good and I can’t wait to see the rest of my family and friends.
LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN – By Sarah-Jane Thompson
During the difficult period of lockdown, I have learned that I miss my school friends and my teachers: the company of my friends and the guidance of my teachers. Home school isn’t too bad as you can pick and choose your working hours but having the knowledge of my teachers is a vital point for my learning.
My family, although I can only see most of them from a distance and through technology, is quite difficult. My mummy is the main carer for my granny as she has dementia. I have been helping mum to care for granny. Some days are not always easy. It is then that we turn to our faith and pray together as a family. I also pray to God myself often throughout the day and every night before I go to bed.
The community has been practicing social distancing and looking out for each other. Mum and I have been taking groceries to the vulnerable and our housebound neighbours. I know that our community set up a group to give vouchers to the elderly and the sick of our village. My granny got a voucher to help her with groceries. This was founded by Alannah McMenamin’s mum, and a local photographer taking lockdown family photos from a distance and the families donating to the cause. This was a truly wonderful act of kindness by all involved. It feels great to help others and keep the community spirt up.
I will never forget my time during lockdown and I take nothing for granted now.
I have learned that I can’t be in control of everything that goes on around me. That the world will keep spinning even if there is a crisis. I have learned that when I put my mind to something, I will stick at it. I have learned to enjoy something that I thought I never had. I have learned to paint a room. I have learned to change a clock right. I have learned to cook a good meal. I have learned to build a dog fort for my Granny’s dog. I have learned to be kinder to my sisters but only a bit kinder.
I have learned that my family will always be there to help me around with things, help me with my work. I have learned that I can depend on my family to bring out the best in me and the worse in me. I have learned that my sister doesn’t fully hate me. I have learned that my little bro and sis can be so excited for something so big and small at the same time. I have learned to open up to my mother more. I have learned that my 1-year old sis can run as fast as hell.
I have learned that my community has tried to help lots and lots of people. They have given out food to the elderly that needs the meals. Some of my community has gone out to buy their neighbours groceries and some of us went to visit the elderly and comfort them. Every day I take my granny for a walk to make sure she keeps fit and gets fresh air. My granny is a carer so every Monday on our walks we go and say hello to one of the people she cares for.
I have learned that my faith is a big part of my life. That I should learn to pray more. I have learned more stories from the Bible and I now see the bigger picture to my faith. I have learned that when I pray, God listens to me every time and I seem happier. I have started to pray for this crisis to be over and for all my friends and family to stay safe during this time.
In my personal opinion there were two ways of going into lockdown. It could have been a complete tragedy, or it could have been a blessing in disguise. I chose the second option.
I made out a plan on the first week of lockdown that I was going to have a daily routine. I would do my chores in the morning, then do some schoolwork, have lunch and finish off my schoolwork in the afternoon. I stuck to this plan. It is nothing like going to school every day, but it helps me cope with the lockdown a lot better, as I like having a plan.
The good weather so far has meant that I have been able to go outside and practise my sports with my three younger sisters. This has helped me tremendously as it is something to look forward to and is very enjoyable because I am not stuck in the house all day. Also, I look forward to the weekend and a structure means that each day doesn’t become the same.
After 7 weeks of lockdown I will never take for granted seeing my friends when I walk into school smiling and saying hello, or being able to hug my Grandad and go into his house. I will always appreciate working in a team where everyone supports each other and works for the same cause. I also will never take for granted ever again playing sports, enjoying my time on the field and on the court.
Lockdown has shown me that all the little things you do in your daily life really mean something and that when they are taken away from you, you understand that everything has to be appreciated. It has shown me that the support of your family and friends can help you get through anything that comes your way.
Although lockdown has been challenging in so many different ways there has been positives throughout it. So, if lockdown has taught me anything it is that you have to look for something positive every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.
My lockdown experience has been quite enjoyable so far. It gives me a break from my busy lifestyle and provides me with the opportunity to spend quality time with my family.
During lockdown I have learned new skills such as baking (with a few failed attempts), new Irish dances, songs and exercise. My sisters and I painted the fence and our decking and are cleaning Granny and Granda’s garden. My family have also celebrated 3 birthdays one of which was my sister’s 18th. Even though I see my grandparents at least three times a week, it still feels strange to be standing six feet apart and unable to give them a hug.
As a result of lockdown, students have been forced to home-school. However, it has given me the opportunity to focus on the subjects I wish to study at GCSE level. Although I don’t miss getting up early for the bus, I do miss my daily catch up with my friends and I am sad that our last year as 10a4 has been cut short.
All together I have enjoyed my lockdown experience. However, I look forward to seeing my friends and family once our lockdown days are over.
My experience has been very interesting. I’ve had to spend both my mum and dad’s birthday in quarantine along with my own. Not being able to buy proper cards or gifts has been really bad. I had to make my parents a card which tested arts skills. One definite positive was that my sister moved back home for lockdown, so I have company. I get on quite well with my sister so it’s nice having her around.
I really miss being with my friends at school and miss having a classroom setting and environment to learn. I miss being able to see my granny properly as now I stand outside her house and talk to her. Online school has definitely had its challenges as sometimes it’s harder to keep a focus at home whereas at school you have the proper environment to learn. Seeing my friends everyday will definitely not be something I will take for granted ever again. Going to my drama singing and dance lessons; where I am in a group setting won’t be taken for granted as well. My show that I was meant to be in “Fame” was cancelled so I miss the cast of that and miss having fun learning our new routines and harmonies. Not being able to do the small things like go to the shops or meet up with my friends randomly is definitely something I will love even more after these strange times. Even as much as getting on the bus to go to school will be something that I will actually start enjoying. Quarantine has definitely had its ups and downs but I believe that everyone will pull through and we’ll all come out the other side and start to look at things differently
Eva Quinn 10a4
My First Days at Loreto
When I first entered Loreto, I could hear my own heart-beat thumping through my chest as if there was someone in there trying to escape. The first thing that made me feel at home was the delicious smell of hot buttered toast. The smell made me feel warm and welcomed.
On my first few days at Loreto, I felt like the puzzle piece that didn’t fit into the puzzle. But as soon as I met my Year Twelve friend, I felt as if I had been there forever! She was so helpful and kind hearted like the big sister that I never had.
One of the things that scared me the most in Loreto was seeing the hundreds of girls on the corridors. I felt like the baby bird amongst all the older, bigger birds who were swooping in and all around me. I was relieved to get in to the safety of my next class.
Every Break time, my friends and I would meet at the All-Weather pitch. After an overwhelming morning of head crunching lessons, it was good to go for a dander and get some fresh air.
Mrs McCann took us swimming. I was very anxious about diving and swimming in deep water and so was my friend, Caoimhe. But we stuck together like two peas in a pod and as we started the swimming lesson, I felt a WHOLE lot better because my friends comforted me and made me feel I had nothing to be scared of. And that’s the secret ingredient of LORETO!
By Sarah Slevin 8a4