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Audio Diary: State College high school student Aneaus Smith shares his experiences of life during the COVID-19 pandemic

High school student standing in a gray suit and tie in front of a flowering tree.
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Aneaus Smith, a student in the State College Area School District's Delta Program, shared his thoughts on life during COVID over the past year.

Like most high school students, Aneaus Smith has been navigating classes and life as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He's a student at the State College Area School District's Delta Program, who's gone to school remotely during part of the pandemic. He went back to in-person classes this past year finishing ninth grade. He's skipping a grade and will be a junior in the fall. Aneaus has been recording his thoughts about the pandemic over the past year. And WPSU created an audio diary of what it's been like, starting with this first entry from Sept. 24, 2021:

My name is Aneaus Smith. Today there was a COVID scare in the fifth grade of Mount Nittany, one of the schools in my area, and the whole fifth grade was shut down. There'll be online for the next two weeks. And because of that COVID scare, I was going to an event that I was going to help my mom with — salsa night — when we were going to have chips and salsa, talk about the history of the salsa dance and also teach people the salsa dance. And that has been shut down because of this COVID scare at the fifth grade.

People at the beginning of the school year, people were saying that schools were going to be shut down within a week or two of school opening back up just because of people not being safe. And so far school hasn't been shut down. And we haven't had any COVID scares up until this point. So it's going to be kind of scary seeing what's going to happen next.

Hi, it's currently October 5th. And a couple of days ago, we had our homecoming dance. And we haven't had a homecoming dance in a while because of COVID-19. Last year, prom didn't happen either. But we had our first homecoming dance in a year and a half. And it was really fun. We had to have it outside on the field outside of my school because of COVID concerns. And having over 1,000 kids in a gym would not have been the best idea. Unfortunately, it was shut down 30 minutes early because of kids ruining it with their bad behavior. I was really excited that I'd be able to go to my first homecoming dance. I'm a freshman right now, so this was my first homecoming dance. And I'm upset that it did get shut down early, but I did manage to have a lot of fun.

It's now November 1st. You know it's weird to have gotten this far. And still be in school, you know, everything's been pretty much normal except for masks, but I guess masks have become the new normal.

This is Aneaus Smith on May 23rd. This school year has definitely been full of some ups and downs, especially with COVID. We entered the school year with everyone pretty much being afraid of COVID, not wanting to be near each other. But then again, wanting to be super close to each other since this would be the first time that friends have been seeing friends in almost two years. Motivation, especially for a lot of school students, me included, has been a big issue because there just wasn't a lot of effort needed going into the virtual academy, and then now having to go back to normal, especially going into ninth grade the school year, motivation has just been a big issue. Because now there's a lot more work going into things. There's a lot more studying. There's more tests, there's more work, there's more homework, and personally, I do have a little bit of an issue with that. I feel like coming back from the two virtual years, there should be some accommodations and some empathy and with that some understanding that not everything is going to be able to go back to normal right away and with that less work, less homework. I think less homework in general, is always a good thing. But maybe that's just my view.

Navigating this year, as a high schooler has been kind of challenging as I missed out on my eighth grade year in school and half of my seventh grade year. So for me and a couple others, it's like coming into high school as a middle schooler. So just looking forward to summer, in general. It's my favorite season. So yeah, even though it's been a pretty interesting school year, and I don't think that there's ever going to be any school years like it. And there hasn't been any school years like it, I'm really looking forward to the summer and then next year navigating school as a junior. So, yeah, bye.

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That was Aneaus Smith, a student in the State College Area School District's Delta program. With help from his father, Gary Smith, he recorded his thoughts for WPSU on what it's been like for a high school student during the pandemic.