A year ago, today

SHS students and teachers reflect on the past year after the start of the coronavirus


Jordin Baker and December Tling

A year ago, a pep rally at SHS had hundreds of students packed in the Fieldhouse. This year, students sat in their socially distanced classroom doing work.

One year ago, senior Casey Rockel was with some friends at the Dairy Queen on Southport Road with some friends when he saw the tweet that announced Mayor Joe Hogsett had made the unprecedented decision to completely shut down in-person learning. 

A year ago, in-person learning had been deemed too dangerous to continue. Since then, Perry Township still hasn’t gone back to the way school was with all students physically attending five days a week. Some say many aspects of school life haven’t been the same since. 

“We’re losing our cohesion just to be connected to one another as a school community,” Cissell said. “So we’re going to have to be very vigilant about bringing everyone together through the classroom.” 

Although English teacher Tim Jamriska has also noticed the decline, he still thinks that SHS is still a community that cares about one another. 

“A vast majority of people care and realize that doing little things matters,” Jamriska said.

And while the pandemic negatively affected people’s lives, some have still managed to find some positives. Jamriska thinks that there is still good that can be appreciated that came out of the pandemic. 

Due to lockdown, he got the opportunity to reconnect with important people in his life he used to not talk to as often.

“I mean if we’re looking at the glass half-full of COVID, you really get to connect with people that matter to you more than you did before,” Jamriska said

Cissel has also decided to think more positively, he believes that COVID-19 has forced teachers, including himself, to quickly become even better teachers than they were before. 

“If we ever get back to normal, whatever normal looks like, we’re going to be better teachers because of this,” Cissell said. 

Though there are positives that have been taken from the pandemic, Mental health is something others have struggled with since lockdown began. 

Marco Ajelli, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Indiana University, has had a very exhausting and stressful year as he is part of the Italian COVID-19 task force. He’s been a part of the task force since the beginning of the pandemic, and he says it has consumed almost all of his life. 

“I’ve been working 17 hours a day, every day, all year,” Ajelli said.

Cissell says that most of his social life was completely halted and still finds it difficult to connect with students because of COVID-19. 

“It’s hard to build relationships with young people when half of your face is covered,” Cissell said. 

Rockel says that while his mental health didn’t necessarily decline, he has become more of a procrastinator. 

“Surprisingly, my GPA has gone up, but I’ve gotten way lazier with my work,” Rockel said.

In terms of broader societal change due to COVID-19,  Ajelli says this change in society is unlike anything he’s ever seen happen due to a virus, at least in the past 100 years. 

“It is really something unprecedented..,” Ajelli said. “The pandemic of the century for sure.” 

Due to the extreme changes the world has gone through due to COVID-19, Jamriska says that if he were given the opportunity, he would go back and stop the pandemic from ever happening in the first place. 

Rockel agrees with this point of view. He feels that without the virus, thousands of innocent people would still be alive today. 

Though some wish COVID-19 had never happened, some are still thankful for smaller things that have happened in response to it.

Cissell is thankful for the effort he sees students put into school, even though he thinks it’s extremely difficult for them.

 He appreciates the positive energy that his students always bring to his class, which motivates him to keep on being the best educator he can be for his students. 

“Your energy that you bring to the classroom energizes us and that relationship with you all…,” Cissell said, “And makes us want to continue to serve you as teachers and as mentors.” 

Rockel is grateful for the people in his life that have helped him through all of this past year.  

He’s thankful for his family keeping him company during lockdown and the time he can spend with his friends, though it’s sometimes not as long as he wishes. 

“Everyone, like my peers, we all are thankful to see one another, even if it’s just for a few minutes…,” Rockel said. “I feel like (COVID-19) has made us more united, even though we’re separated.”