Reporter Newspapers asked local students to respond to the following prompt: “Take a moment to reflect on how the pandemic has challenged you, what skills you relied on or developed to cope, and how you might use this experience to improve your future.”

Flannery Hipp, Marist School, Class of 2026

The COVID pandemic has reshaped our lives, and through the months of virtual school, locked-down summers, masks, vaccines, and countless COVID tests, we’ve finally reached a point in each of our individual lives where we have found something that works for us. For me, I took to writing.

For a while I had wanted to write a novel, and with all the extra alone time the pandemic offered, I thought it would be the perfect time to start! Between breaks in Zoom school, I started to write a novel. But, like all new hobbies, it was hard at first. Developing good writing habits and being able to balance that with school was challenging. But luckily the 2019-2020 school year was coming to an end, and I had the whole summer of 2020 to get better at writing.

I don’t think anyone expected the pandemic to last more than two weeks at first. I certainly didn’t. But things changed when I started to only meet my family on Zoom or talk to friends on FaceTime calls. That’s when I realized that the pandemic might give me a lot of spare time, but it also gave me a sense of being lonely. So my made-up characters became my society. And that’s when I discovered that while it was fun to write alone, it was even more fun to write with someone else. One of my best friends was writing a novel, and together we connected over virtual meetings where we’d both just sit and write. I learned that sometimes having someone to talk to, even over Zoom, made writing, and life, a whole lot easier.

Now that the pandemic might be coming to a close, I look forward to having those Zoom writing chats in person, because if talking to people through a computer could help me write two novels in the pandemic, then I know that when we get back in person, every little bit of that time not wasted will inspire me to keep writing. If writing can get me through a pandemic, it can get me through anything else.

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.