One year since March 13: looking back on a historic year
March 13, 2021
Last year today, Friday the 13th of March (how ironic), our lives changed forever. There have been 117 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide along with 2.63 million deaths since that date. Along with the virus sweeping the nation, many of our normal activities were put on pause. Things we took for granted such as playing sports, hanging out with friends, and the right to go to school in person, were taken away from us. It’s now been 365 days since we lost our feeling of “normal” life, so let’s take some time to reflect on each of the past 12 months.
March 2020 – Gretchen
During my 7th period chem class March 13 last year, Principal Janice Schwarze broke the news to us that we would have two weeks of “extended online learning” before our spring break. Everyone was so happy, not even paying attention in class for the rest of the day. Throwback to filling out one Google Form everyday saying we were ‘present’ and sometimes barely doing school work on certain days. Grades couldn’t go down and we were barely on Zoom. Everything was pretty much shut down. Sounds like a movie now when you think of it. Even masks were unusual.
April 2020 – Gretchen
On April 3 Governor Pritzker recommended wearing masks outside. It’s so weird to think at this point it wasn’t even mandatory to wear a mask. We filled the endless time we had with family walks, Netflix, and TikToks. My sisters and I binge-watched “Outer Banks,” a popular series, came out on Netflix April 13. It filled about two days of the long month because we watched it so fast. Birthday car parades, a popular trend at the time where friends and family would drive past a loved ones house, honk their horn, and wish their companion a socially distant happy birthday were becoming a common occurrence. I ended up having one as well, and it was so nice to see my friends and family for the first time in months. April was our first full month of the ‘stay at home order’ and trying to keep ourselves sane battling the boredom.
May 2020 – Timmy
After nearly three long months, Pritzker finally lifted the stay-at-home order in Illinois. Parks opened, and any high school students whose parents restrained them from the outdoors were finally freed. At this point, the mask mandate was heating up, and what once seemed to be an optional accessory for those who were cautious of the virus was now a staple to everyone’s wardrobe, regardless of your opinions on COVID. If you had a birthday in May, odds are you had a drive-by birthday celebration.
June 2020 – Gretchen
June 1 was a big day for people who turned 16 in March through May — the DMV opened. I waited outside at 5 a.m. June 2 to get my license because my birthday was in May. Three long hours sitting in the cold and rain along with so many other people. I’ve never seen the DMV busier with long lines of people waiting around the corner. On a more serious note, hundreds of people gathered for the Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in Downers Grove June 7. Restaurants began to get more traffic because they were allowed to open outdoor dining, and I finally got back to work after three months. And, finally, on June 30, the senior class of 2020 had their drive-by graduation to get their diplomas and celebrate their last time at DGN.
July 2020 – Timmy
Summer looked different for just about every high schooler. While some went out and socialized almost everyday, others were still staying home and keeping away from the dangers of the virus. Professional sports started to make a big return in July—one of the most notable being the creation of the NBA Bubble. On July 7, NBA players entered an enclosed facility in Disney World to finish out their season and avoid the risk of COVID, a postseason that will be forever remembered in sports history. In the world of NASCAR, driver Bubba Wallace, the only Black American in the sport, responded to the hate he received for supporting Black Lives Matter, and his well-said response led to the removal of the confederate flag from all NASCAR events — a big controversy within the sport.
August 2020 – Gretchen
Back to school!… Kinda. It was a big day for District 99 August 3 as the Board had to make a big decision. Hybrid or remote was the controversial topic and they ended up thinking it was the safest thing to keep us remote until September. (Which also ended up getting pushed back to October.) Our first day of Zoom classes started August 18, meeting our teachers and getting used to internet issues through the virtual setting. We did get a taste of some low-contact fall sports though, which was a highlight for the month.
September 2020 – Timmy
The school year was officially underway, and grades had never been lower. The number of failing grades seemed to be shocking. But let’s be real, when it’s 8 a.m. and the alarm clock goes off to hop on zoom, some students are hitting snooze. September 18 was a somber day (just like many days in 2020) and the world was saddened to hear that Ruth Bader-Ginsburg (RBG) passed away. An icon on the Supreme Court for women’s rights, as well as minority rights, her legacy revolutionized the legal system forever. In the world of sports, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the NHL’s Stanley Cup. In regards to high school sports, the IHSA seemingly changed their policies everyday, making the future of winter, spring, and summer sports unclear. Fall sports such as golf, cross country, and swim and dive proceeded with their seasons. Also, September marked a total of one million deaths to the pandemic worldwide.
October 2020 – Timmy
October 2020 was a crucial month in the return to in-person learning. Freshman went back in person for two weeks, and, after them, the upperclassmen (who chose to) attended in person classes as well. However, after this short-lived test run, we were sent back to fully remote after the DuPage county positivity rates exceeded the limit set by the D99 school board. Halloween came and went. While some high schoolers did things with friends, there were significantly less trick-or-treaters of all ages roaming the streets.
November 2020 – Gretchen
November was a pretty hard month on us all: the rates were going up and we were going back to where we started. Governor Pritizer announced there would be no more indoor dining at restaurants starting November 4. Some winter sports got a taste of their seasons for a couple of days before we got shut down. I got a total of two days of gymnastics practice, and I thought the season was over after that. Instead, we continued on Zoom until February. And even on top of that, we were in the process of an ongoing election where President Biden ultimately won. Even so, we all got to celebrate Thanksgiving with our immediate family, and some made their own Turkey Trots this year, including my own family.
December 2020 – Timmy
December wrapped up the most unorganized, non-traditional semester any high schooler or teacher has ever had. No required final exams meant reduced stress for some, while it also eliminated a last-minute surge for students with a grade on the bubble. On the 14th of December, the first COVID vaccine was administered — a step in the right direction for a return to normalcy. While much about 2020 was unlike any other year, one thing remained the same: the Bears disappointed their fans once again. While fans were optimistic after a hot start to the season, at this point all hope was lost. With New Years just around the corner, America was ready to say “good-bye” to 2020 this past December.
January 2021 – Gretchen
And we are back. After our Christmas break, we were able to go to school Tuesday through Friday, every day for a half-day. It almost seemed unreal. Hassles with the face shields were, and are, still a problem, but we were finally back in the building. Winter sports were able to start their seasons back up again after being off for a little over a month. Big political events this month were the storming of the capitol building in Washington, D.C. and former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment. On a lighter note, we experienced a couple of ‘snow’ days where we went all online. Come on DGN, just give us the day off.
February 2021 – Timmy
After much anticipation, some of our most beloved sports at DGN made their return in February. Boys and girls basketball found major success early in the season, and while students could not attend the games, both squads put on a show over the live streams. The IHSA also made it official that Illinois would be playing football starting in March, which was music to the ears of players and fans. The COVID rates in DuPage county dropped tremendously, and students who chose to go back to a hybrid schedule stayed in school all semester. While January was wildly cold and snowy, February was a little more mild. All in all, this month was a refresher, lots of good news for the future of school, sports, vaccines, and the everyday lives of us students.
March 2021 – Gretchen
The nostalgia is kicking in. The ‘One year ago, today’ flashback feature on Snapchat captured our last ‘normal’ days of school and how we didn’t know what was coming at us. Some could even say that they miss quarantine. Today marks the one year anniversary of the shut down, but it’s now time to look forward to a new year. More people are getting vaccinated and are getting us hopeful for the future. While the past year certainly wasn’t what we expected it to be, hindsight is 2020. Let’s hope we don’t have to look back on 2021 like we do 2020!