“ We have fully adapted to it ”: the last year of the pandemic high school

About this project: Few milestones carry as much meaning and memories as the last year of high school. This year’s seniors have had their final year of high school during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, PennLive profiles high school students talking about their experiences during this remarkable time.

Kaseim Gregg thought it would only last a few weeks.

Last year, as an outgoing junior in high school at the University of Science and Technology in Harrisburg, he was forced to radically change the way he attended school amid worrying developments in the coronavirus pandemic.

In-person classes were suspended and, like all other students, Gregg was forced to rely on Zoom for all class work. He hardly expected it to continue the following year.

Now, set to graduate on June 5, Gregg looks back on a year that tested his commitment and ultimately revealed a lot about himself.

“We have fully adapted to it,” he said. “This is what we have to do to be successful. I think it was difficult for everyone but especially for the students. We are so used to being around our peers. It helps us to strive, to be social and not being able to have it was very difficult.

No sooner was Gregg forced into distance learning than he realized he had to invoke a special state of mind so as not to fall into the trap of sleeping late or falling back asleep.

Gregg said it was difficult at first to stick to a schedule, let alone do all the lessons through Zoom. He lacked the individual attention of teachers; and he particularly missed seeing his friends (he could only see his teacher on the screen; the students had turned off their cameras).

His love for science and, in particular, for mathematics, kept him on the right track.

“That was one of the challenges, being disciplined,” said Gregg. “This is one of the things COVID has taught us. That we can triumph in any situation, whatever it is.

Gregg, who has a twin brother, a younger sister and two older brothers, will attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall where he plans to major in health sciences. He is considering a possible minor in business.

“I want to help people,” he said. “It’s the best option for me.”

Like many high school kids, Gregg feels a bit deceived by what most students expect to be the epic year of their high school career.

Still, said Gregg, he’s learned how good he is as a leader. He was a class president and excelled as a leader in the sport. He played football, wrestled and ran on the track.

“We can’t get it back, but I understand what the admins were trying to do to keep us safe,” Gregg said. “I think I’m more aware of what’s going on around me. I am more aware of the things that are going on. I notice what is going on in the lives of others. I am more determined about what I want in life and to know more about myself. I’m doing things I’ve never done before … taking a leadership role.

Read more profiles of high school students in this series

“ What can I do now to make the most of it? ”: The last year of pandemic high school

‘My work ethic got better thanks to this virtual thing’: final year of pandemic high school

‘I realized how important friends are’: the final year of pandemic high school

‘To say this has been a tough year is an understatement’: final year of pandemic high school

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