Living In quarantine: Reflecting on the era of the mask

Quarantine has been a period of uncertainty and confusion for millions of people across the country, and even across the world. The drastic changes that occured have affected everyone’s day-to-day life and have contributed to a new way of life that will continue to have its effects even after the restrictions are fully lifted.

During this period of being stuck indoors and social distancing, I have tried to make the most out of my situation with anything I can think of from off the top of my head. Being a Boy Scout, our motto is “Be Prepared,” and boy was I prepared to take on any challenges that presented themselves this year during social distancing.

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Just like everyone else, I was not expecting the sudden shutdown that occurred. I was aware that the virus did exist, and that it would make its way to America, but I was surprised with how quickly it spread across the globe, and how soon many businesses and even schools were forced to shut down. I, along with everyone else at Mount St. Joseph, spent the remainder of our school year from March to June at home, completely digital. The transition period was weird, but oddly exciting. It was a new and unfamiliar medium of learning to everyone at school, both teachers and students alike.

I will not say that school was “easier” for me during the time spent at home, but I did enjoy the ability to work from the comforts and safety of my own home rather than the physical environment of the school.

When I wasn’t studying for the AP US History exam or finishing any homework assignments I had for the evening, I often found myself doing what I always enjoy doing in my free time: drawing and sketching. I have been an artist for several years, but I’ve become more accustomed to cartoon drawing and sketching more than ever. Drawing helped me relieve a lot of the stress and uncertainty I felt during the transition period, and made me feel more comfortable to work more at my own pace. Besides regular schoolwork and assignments, I was working further on my National History Day project for the competition. Since I love drawing cartoons, I decided to create a documentary on minority representation in cartoons and comic strips.

Last year, I made it further than I imagined I would, and had climbed all the way to the Maryland State level competition. Even though I didn’t win the Maryland competition, I won an award for Excellence in African American History. I was shocked to win this award, and I’ll always regard it as one of my greatest achievements. However, like they say, “All good things must come to an end,” and before I knew it, the school year was over, and summer break had begun. 

Going into summer felt like a continuation of the free time I had during the day after school hours. The scenery around me changed, but the mood of being at home was a constant feeling throughout my time at home, and still feels that way even during this new digital school year. That’s not to say my summer was filled with doing nothing, quite the opposite actually. During the early days of the summer, I took a summer class, Intro to Digital Art. In this class, I became accustomed to all of the inner workings of Photoshop, and how to manipulate pictures and create my own digital masterpieces.

Even after the class has long since finished, I still used the skills I obtained on a day-to-day basis in my free time, as I am always looking for ways to increase my artistic horizons and expand my own abilities. I even was able to pick up two freelance graphic artists jobs this summer, creating characters for academic curriculum assignments for teachers. Like I had said earlier, doing art is something I enjoy doing, so having the opportunities to continue doing what I love doing was more than enough to keep my attention engaged for the summer.

Besides the summer class, I participated in many other activities. To start, I am a rider on the MSJ Mountain Biking Team. Although there are no races this season due to safety concerns during these uncertain times, I still have attended the weekly practices. In addition to sports, my family and I also took numerous sightseeing day trips, such as going to LaDew Topiary Gardens, a botanical garden, Gettysburg, a historic Civil War battlefield, hiking at Susquehanna State Park, canoeing at Tuckahoe State Park, and visiting the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in DC, just to name a few. Even though I was stuck inside with the restrictions of social distancing for the second half of the school year, and the entirety of my 2020 summer, I still enjoyed everything I did, even the small things like riding around the neighborhood on my bike, or taking my dogs for walks.

I always try to savor the moment, especially when I’m with family, like going on picnics, having a movie night, play board games, or even eating dinner together. I was far from unprepared from making the most out of quarantine, and looking back, I’m happy I accomplished everything I could; while wearing a mask when in public, of course!

Jackson Reichardt is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.