As the 2020-2021 school year draws to a close, it is important to reflect on the struggles and successes that have come with this year and how next year can be even better.
Across the nation and in our community, the month of June marked an end to the mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals. While Kingsway Regional School District chose to have faculty and students continue to mask up until the conclusion of the year, the light at the end of the tunnel became apparent by allowing seniors the option to not wear a mask at prom on June 11.
“As a vaccinated person, I would feel comfortable without wearing a mask in school next year because I trust the science and the fact that being vaccinated will protect me from getting sick,” vocalized rising junior, Jack Arena.
In terms of vaccinated students, Arena is not alone, as students continue to report that the number of their classmates who are vaccinated increases exponentially every week. Upperclassmen are no longer the only ones able to receive the vaccine after the announcement that it was approved for emergency use by the FDA in adolescents on May 10th.
Twelve-year-old Beatrice Voll, rising 7th grader, leads the charge for middle schoolers like herself to get the vaccine. “Once I got it, more people in my class started getting it because I told them about how it didn’t hurt and how the side effects weren’t that bad, so they were less scared to get it,” explains Voll.
Like many others, Voll chose to get vaccinated through Kingsway’s clinic which was administered by Walgreens. She describes her experience as painless and efficient, strongly recommending it to other students if the school decides to do it again.
“It was really quick. I was the first person within the clinic to get vaccinated. My appointment was at 9 in the morning. It took about two minutes and then I had to wait around for ten minutes just to make sure I was okay before I left the building.”
As Voll and her classmates ended their sixth-grade year at the Walter Hill School, only 10 students were fully vaccinated, but they expect this number to dramatically increase before the class starts at Kingsway Middle School in the fall.
Students from the high-school express similar sentiments. “I believe that my classmates will get vaccinated this summer because they are now realizing all the freedom that comes with it. For example, being vaccinated means the ability to go out in public without wearing a mask,” advocates Anabelle McGowan, junior.
“It was a terrible feeling having to tell a friend or a family member that you were exposed to COVID-19 and that they could now be at risk because of you. For me, getting vaccinated was the end of feeling that constant fear and stress that I have felt for the past year,” she continued.
For this reason, and countless others, many students could not wait another second to go out and get vaccinated. “I got my vaccine on my sixteenth birthday because at the time that was the first day I could get it. I just wanted to get it as soon as possible. I need this to be over,” revealed Arena.
He continued by noting, “The second shot I had to reschedule because it fell right before sectionals, and as a varsity tennis player, I did not want to risk losing a match that I had worked so hard to compete in”.
While his story is fascinating, it is not necessarily unique, as all people, but most especially students, struggle to accept the duality of their motivation to get vaccinated and their fear of missing out because of its side effects.
“From what I hear, most high-school students that are not vaccinated yet are waiting because their parents were hesitant of how the side effects might affect their focus in classes or athletics. Now that the school year has ended, I think that more parents will want their children to get vaccinated,” disclosed Arena.
Although as of right now Kingsway Regional School District has not released their plans for next school year, the Dragon Community is confidently optimistic that 2021-2022 will be their return to normalcy.
“Even at a high-school level, people think that wearing a mask or getting vaccinated is a political statement, but in my opinion, it’s not: it’s a moral one,” promotes McGowan.
To ensure a brighter tomorrow, Kingsway students wish to remind the community to stay safe this summer and to wear a mask if you are not vaccinated. They are excited to put the dark days of the pandemic behind them and ready to put their best foot forward to commit to excellence for the upcoming year.
By Audrey Pachuta