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Brewster High School Students Document Their COVID-19 Experiences

artwork by Kate Vaunghan “Today I wish I was able to go out with my friends and do anything I wanted without worrying about getting sick.” 

“I’ve planned out my whole life on Pinterest because I have nothing better to do when I get bored.”

“My coach is having her baby in four days. We’re really nervous for her. I couldn’t imagine going to a hospital right now.”

These are just a few of the quotes Brewster High School teacher Kayla Corvino has collected from students in her U.S. History class. Corvino asked her students to keep a daily log of their activities, thoughts, weather and any other information that they think is relevant during their time at home to document what life is like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have always wanted to ask my grandparents about their experiences during World War II, but I sadly missed my opportunity to,” Corvino said. “I am sure my son Cole will one day ask me where I was and what I was doing when the Twin Towers fell.”

These thoughts are what sparked her idea to have her students — and the larger Brewster community — create a journal of their experiences.

“In my classes we call ourselves historians but we also think of ourselves as historical figures,” Corvino said. “Not only do we analyze history, but we recognize that we are also active participants in the making of that history. As students of chronicled events, we find ourselves in a unique position to record, first-hand and in real time, history being made.”

Throughout the course of the project, students have been sending Corvino written and video journal accounts of their days, touching on everything from celebrating birthdays in a new way to stress and anxiety to what work is like.

“I wish people were not so disrespectful to grocery workers because, trust me, I don't want to be there working,” one student said. “I’m so drained it's not even funny. I’ve been screamed at by customers and I didn't even do anything but look at them.”

Students also have documented the positive, from grandparents being released from the hospital to noticing flowers starting to bloom to finding fun and creative ways to do school assignments.

Corvino would love to expand the project and collect entries from the larger Brewster community.

“As historians, we learn that history is made up of many voices and the most authentic view of life events includes a wide array of different voices,” she said. “We are all going through extraordinary yet unique experiences with COVID-19 and I would like to capture as many voices as possible. Whether you are trying to keep your business open, working from home, helping those who become ill, taking on other jobs, or otherwise responding to these unprecedented times, I would like to have your story heard. I would also like to hear from people of all different ages so if you have children at home or older children living away from us here at home in Brewster, I would love to have their voices represented.”

If you’d like to contribute you can send your journals, photos or questions to kcorvino@brewsterschools.org. Please include your name and the date (though if you feel more comfortable your journal contribution can stay anonymous).

artwork by Kate Vaughan