Every March, the freshman literature classes watch Advanced Drama’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”. For freshman Darpan Singh, he specifically remembers the moment his friends and he had watched the performance and snapped a picture afterward.
“Back then [when that photo was taken], COVID-19 was [a topic that everyone was talking about], but it wasn’t that much of an issue [in the Bay Area], and we were just going about our days normally,” Singh said. “Especially after that [photo was taken], as the days went on, COVID-19 got worse and worse — sporting events started getting canceled, and everything else too right after that picture was taken.”
During Track & Field practices, freshman Kristen Hsieh still managed to create many memories with her teammates, despite the shortened season. In this photo, Hsieh, her brother junior Nicholas Hsieh and junior Melannie Ooi lie on the football field together while watching the sunset. When reflecting on such moments before school cancellations, Hsieh reminisces on the deep, personal connections she made before the shelter-in-place had begun.
“I feel like [seeing] the photo [now], I find it hard to [to find the] genuin[ity] that we felt in the photo at the time] because [now you] just think about staying away from people and trying to prevent from being sick,” Kristen Hsieh said.
On the night of March 4, the global pandemic was still far from sophomore Shivani Verma’s mind. She and her friend had discovered Google’s augmented reality feature, using it to enlarge and downsize animals of their choice onto random pictures. The following day at school, Verma decided to share her discovery with the rest of her friend group during lunch. Soon enough, they had created a giant goat and placed it in the center of the MVHS quad. The picture was later used to prank people, and looking back on this memory, Verma feels nostalgic –– despite taking place not too long ago, she says that the rapid changes in life have made being at school feel like a memory of the distant past.
“[Looking toward the future], I’m definitely excited to just eat lunch with my friends again,” Verma said. “I definitely took that for granted earlier, because it’s honestly kind of a mundane thing compared to other things you can do, but just being around those people and doing stupid things, and walking to class with them. That’s kind of what I miss.”
For sophomore Ronit Avalani, this short video of him painting with one of his best friends captures a memory from a time when the quarantine felt more like a break than isolation. Taken just a couple days into shelter-in-place, Avalani recalls that his attitude was a lot more laid back and happier. When the video was taken, Avalani remembers that despite recognizing the gravity of the situation, he was happy about the unexpected break from school. However, as the shelter-in-place extended, Avalani realized the worsening nature of isolation.
“I have been pretty much distant from everybody,” Avalani said. “All my friendships have gotten weaker because I don’t spend as much time with them in person, so it’s not like I know everything about their daily lives. I would like to go back to a stage where I’m constantly in people’s lives.”
One of the most prominent aspects of junior Sachi Roy’s life is being part of her dance team, Andaaz, and this team is what she misses the most during the quarantine. Her picture is of her team, taken after a performance called Bollywood Berkeley. Competing with dance teams all over the Bay Area, Roy remembers the feelings of elation and accomplishment that the team felt after dancing.
“That picture was basically taken right after we performed,” Roy said. “We ran out to the lobby and … it felt amazing, it felt like winning a lottery, and everyone’s spirits were super super high.”
Having the opportunity to reunite with some alumni was also a highlight of this event, and in general, Roy says that this picture is a representation of just how far her team has come throughout their season. Despite the season being cut short due to shelter-in-place, Roy has high hopes for next year and remains optimistic that the show season will allow her team to demonstrate their immense potential and do what they did this year and more.
For the past two years, senior Ella Smith would visit relatives in Barbados right after her first semester ended. Not only was vacationing in Barbados relaxing after academically intense semesters, but Smith was also able to make pleasant, lasting memories. The trip for her was always a certainty, but due to the uncertainty of travel amid COVID-19, Smith’s thoughts almost immediately shifted to these memories.
“It contrasts how COVID-19 has affected my life because after working hard for so long, the events that will come after this are uncertain,” Smith said. “Whether we will get to celebrate our hard work in person or if we will even be able to go to college in person in the fall.”
Despite the cancellation of school events for the remainder of her senior year, Smith still maintains a positive outlook on the entire situation and is grateful for the memories she has been making during shelter-in-place.
“There was some good that came out of [the shelter-in-place order] such as spending more time with my family and finding new hobbies,” Smith said. “I hope when things go back to ‘normal’ that we don’t take things for granted anymore and have a fresh outlook on life.”
After losing the ASB and class office elections in junior year, senior William Liou still wanted to be a part of the Leadership community for his last year at MVHS, so he joined the Spirit Commission. Liou reminisces on a particular trip to Anaheim for a leadership conference, where the class spent time at Disneyland. The trip, and the special memories he made with his underclassmen friends, hold significance to him.
“[The trip to Anaheim] was not only rewarding, but at the same time, I realized how much more fun a group can have when everyone is so much kinder and outgoing,” Liou said. “The people really made the experience so much better, [and] I actually hung out with juniors for most of the time and they were so inviting and cool.”
Despite the many cancellations of school events, Liou recognizes the importance of compassion and empathy during this time.
“This isn’t a competition,” Liou said. “As seniors, many of us are just expressing our sadness and it comes off as ‘Oh, we deserve the most love right now,’ but it’s really not our goal … I feel as though in this time of crisis, we should all try to just understand each other and pull through together. It’s not just seniors alone — it’s everyone.”