Michael McCarron, Carndonagh Community School
My name is Michael McCarron and I am currently doing TY at Carndonagh Community School. In Transition Year we get the chance to do work experience but with Covid 19 not many places were accepting students for work placements. Due to the fact that I couldn’t go into the Inish Times offices, I decided to write an article like a proper journalist.
On March 12, 2020 I left school not knowing I wouldn’t be going back until September – a full six months later! What was ahead was online school for a Junior Cert that would never happen, running 5ks like there was no tomorrow and a lot of gardening.
I remember coming home that day and thinking, “brilliant two weeks off”. Boy was I mistaken. We got started with the online lessons straight away and, for my own class any way, it was pretty successful. Our attendance rate was very good but I know it wasn’t the same for every class group. That was the problem with online school, those who were motivated turned up but those who weren’t, never showed. I could safely say that there were some google meets with only a few students in them.
For most teenagers I would say the things they were missing most were their sports, hobbies and friends, that was the case with me anyways. Not having football or gaelic training of any sort was tough for people my age. I, like many others, took up running as a form of exercise. I now know those back roads inside out after countless laps throughout lockdown. Not having our friends was hard for us teenagers and I'm delighted I had an Xbox during this time. The craic we had on there during lockdown was brilliant and, I think I speak for most of the boys my age when I say, without it lockdown would have been much more boring. I think that’s where lockdown may have been more difficult for girls, with “gaming” generally being more of a boy thing. At least we had the comfort of knowing there would be six or seven other lads on for a bit of craic in the evening, whereas most girls I know didn’t have the same sort of thing. FIFA 20 replaced the live action for a lot of us.
For our grandparents lockdown was a tough time. Not being able to have anyone into the house for a cup of tea and chat must have been difficult. My uncle nicknamed my granny the “Minister of Employment” because anytime you were out there was a job to be done! Whether It was grass that needed cutting, a fence that needed painting or hedge that needed a trim, there was always something to keep you busy at granny's.
Between March 12th and May 18th (the beginning of Phase 1) was extremely tough for everyone but I think us teenagers missed out the most. For anyone who played sport, this time was unbearable with no training or matches during what would have been the beginning of our season. There are only so many times you can continually kick a ball against the wall or play pass with a sibling. The online lessons became more of a drain with the growing speculation of the state exams being cancelled. I did four hours of study the morning it was cancelled thinking I'll get this out of the way so I can have the rest of the day to myself! What a waste of time!!! Don’t get me wrong, now looking back, I'm happy enough that it was cancelled but at the time, it felt like my year group was missing out on something. I definitely missed school, I suppose when you look at it, school is a social event too.
Around this time when the exams were cancelled, golf clubs re-opened. It made sense as it was a game you could easily socially distance in. Having always played a little golf, I didn’t let this opportunity to play sport go to waste. I got out as often as I could with my family and friends. Being able to interact with
others bar my close family was a welcome change and it felt like things were coming back to some sort of normality. As the summer progressed team trainings resumed and we even got to play some matches. It felt like life was back on track again.
The entire lockdown was a challenge on resilience and mental health for everyone. Some who may not have had the craic on the Xbox back in April, who didn’t have any siblings to play with, who had no grandparents to cut grass for, may have had a really difficult time. Not everyone was on a zoom call on a Sunday evening for a quiz with the family (not everyone could win the quiz either...one win would have been enough!)
In my opinion, we will all learn things about ourselves because of Covid 19. Now that we are at Level 5, I'm sure we will come together again by staying apart. We are all in this together people.
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