Amy Beckhusen had a bright idea.
She’s an English teacher at Jamestown High School and taught freshmen and seniors this past semester.
“When the school closures took effect, one of my first ideas was to have students write about their experiences at home,” she said. “I’m not sure where the idea came from: I knew I wanted to create and honor spaces for everyone to try and process the momentous changes taking place in our lives.”
The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in the nation and the world. Many were hospitalized. Many lost their jobs.
And many lost loved ones.
The stress and anxiety of the times continue to affect people from all walks of life.
“I imagined how some of us were in crisis because our parents lost their jobs or had to put themselves in harm’s way in order to continue working,” Beckhusen said. “Like me, I knew that many students were safe, but bored without any of our normal activities.”
It’s called “24 Hours at Home,” and it’s modeled after The New York Times’ travel blog, “36 Hours from Wherever You Are.”
These are the students’ lives during quarantine.
24 hours at home for WJCC high school students
6 a.m. Sunrise
Go for a morning bike ride. I do a loop around the golf course behind my house occasionally. I have a perfect spot where I can watch the sunrise in front of an enormous pond. It’s a lovely way to start off my day listening to birds chirping and noticing geese swimming at the start of day. Every day I have roughly the same routine, so I think switching it up in the mornings can just about complete the week.
8 a.m. Time to learn
Get to work. Living from home means hours of work that I don’t really know how to do. As soon as I finally get started, BOOM! my mom calls. Now I’m in a terrible mood and I have to work through a bad attitude. Two hours later there’s a break for lunch, then the hard labor continues. Finally, the work gets done. I stretch calmly, shower, and go to sleep. I think I’ve earned a nap!
10 a.m. A walk with my dog
Walk the dog. I walk my dog so she can go to the bathroom and can get fresh air before I start my schoolwork. My path takes me to the pond near my house where I sit on the dock to visit the swans and to hear the birds sing. My dog KC gets to see all the other dogs and I think seeing them makes her happy. During my walk I listen to a podcast that helps me feel motivated so, when I get home I’ll be in the mood to do my schoolwork.
Nowadays I can see the little sparkle in them, the slight curl of his canine lips that seem to mimic a smile. Just the little things keep me distracted, allow for me to enjoy the world even during a complicated time.
11 a.m. Jam session
Learn how to play a new song on your instrument. I’ve been playing my ukulele more and learning new songs, including “Rude” by MAGIC! and “Can’t Stop Singing” from teen beach movie. Once I have a song down, I play it for my parents. Even though there’s a lot of deplorable things going on in the world, my ukulele helps take the adversity off my mind and bring positives and hope for the future.
1 p.m. Outdoor eats
Eat your lunch outside. As the days grow longer and warmer, I’ve began to eat lunch outside. I sit on my screen porch with my dog and pay attention to my surroundings. The sounds of the birds sitting on a bird feeder, the bright blue sky, and the smells all around me. Since I have been doing this, I have found something to look forward to everyday. And while my schedule may be inconsistent, it’s nice to have one thing that stays the same every day.
3 p.m. X-Box
Once all my assignments are complete, I grab my shiny plastic controller and put on my headset. My friends invite me to a chat party, and then we choose from a multitude of games including Minecraft, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Every time my friends play with me, we always laugh and tell jokes that cause our moods to be as light as air even in stressful game scenarios. Whether we live in the same town, or different states and countries, we somehow share a similar sense of humor. I hope to cherish the time I have with my friends on Xbox, because I will never know when it will be the last time I play with them.
4 p.m. Wheeled adventures
Take a bike ride. During the day, I usually take a bike ride around my neighborhood to see how everyone is doing and observe nature. By our neighborhood pool, the flowers that we planted have started to grow again. I have also noticed the same people doing their daily routines of walking, running, and dog walking. While I’m out, I usually listen to the Impaulsive podcast. The bike ride just really makes me happy. It’s good to go outside and see everything and everyone grow during these times.
I pay more attention to the nature around me now than I ever did, and it makes the bike rides more enjoyable. We usually take bike rides on the trail behind my neighborhood or to the Jamestown Island. The Island is pretty because of all the water surrounding it but the trail is pretty because of the beautiful green trees. The rides are usually 9 to 10 miles long and then we go home, get dinner, and watch a family movie. I think this “quarantine” is good for all of us because we’re paying more attention to the things around us.
4 p.m. Express yourself through art
Paint your own masterpiece. I have been adding little pieces every day to what will eventually be sunflowers in a vase. I am cheered by the radiant yellows and oranges of the flowers. Feeling the canvas and the paintbrushes under my fingertips is a calming sensation. Painting is what you make it, and I choose for it to be quiet. It reminds me that in times of chaos such as these, there are still moments of harmony.
Before painting, I think about the background, colors, and other details. I ask my family for ideas and add my own twist to them. Next, I sit and start mixing colors and making a background. Then I draw on top of it to guide my painting for tomorrow. I find painting a great distraction from the endless quarantine. This activity keeps me calm and off my phone. My screen time has gone up so this keeps me away from electronics.
5 p.m. Throw the football
Have a catch with your dad. As I throw the football, I notice the cherry blossom tree in my yard turn green again signifying change around us. I watch as cars pass and remember riding the bus to school every day only a month ago. As I pick up the ball, I look over to the park across the street, and I think back to when I would see kids play there all the time. Times are soul crushing right now, but throwing the football helps remember times when it wasn’t.
6 p.m. Puzzling times
Work on a puzzle. My dad and I decided to get out a 1,000-piece puzzle that depicted toy trains of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Overwhelmed by the huge pile of pieces, I struggled to find the perplexing corner and edge pieces, which were nestled in the old, dusty box. After hours of chugging along on the train puzzle with our figurative blood, sweat, and tears, we realized that we had 999 pieces. The missing piece was in the direct center of the puzzle covering the caboose of a bright red train, but we still had to appreciate our hard work and commitment.. This puzzle led me to reflect: as we try and piece together our questions and struggles in these hard times, sometimes the picture isn’t that transparent. There are often unanswered questions and missing pieces to the puzzle, but even so, we should still take time to relax and reflect every day.
10 p.m. Dessert
Grab a spoon and a container of your favorite ice cream. In these dark and dreary times, a sweet treat can be a game changer, especially when you’re in a grumpy funk, which I often find myself in because of our circumstances. I’ve eaten ice cream practically every day of quarantine because I work at Baskin Robbins, which is considered an essential business. I’ve heard my mom’s laughter as we sit down on the living room floor to watch Hulu and eat ice cream late at night together. I’ve felt the sweet sensation as the cold, creamy treat hits my tongue. I’ve watched my Reese’s peanut butter cup ice cream slowly sink down into the depths of my crackling cake cone. Everything right now is scary and unknown, but ice cream continues to be comfort and a sweet escape.
11 p.m. FaceTime with friends
Get together with friends on Facetime. As a way to maintain some form of social interaction, I’ve been talking with my friends every night from the comfort of my own bedroom. I’ve seen their faces and I’ve heard their voices–their bellowing laughs, their changes in tone. These talks keep me grounded, connected, and sane during these difficult times, and it’s comforting to know that I have people I can talk to every night about anything, for hours and hours. It’s shown me how important it is to stay in contact with your friends, and it has made me more grateful for having them in my life.
3 a.m. Music of the night
Listen to the sounds of the night. I’ve realized it isn’t quiet at all: there is always a noise, whether it is the old house settling or the crickets chirping their beautiful, yet repetitive, melody. The occasional scattered shower makes a pitter-patter on the roof and sometimes, if you’re lucky, there’s a crack of lightning. If you really listen you can always find a subtle or loud noise at this time of night to keep you company.
3 a.m. Staying up
I’m awake late at night these days, and I revel in the silence provided by a sleeping household. String lights bathe my room in purple, blue, and red. I notice the way they alter the color of everything, making it a hyper version of itself. During the day I’m confined with my sister, brother in law, and nephew. I love them all, but tension escalates quickly in a 1,200-square-foot apartment. Enjoy the moments of time alone to yourself.