Covid in time capsules

From left, John McDonnell (deputy principal), Glenys Bichan (library manager) and Kathryn Parsons (Cambridge Museum) with Ella Webb, Paola Velasco-Bazaldua, Georgia Kuijpers and Monet Smith.

The Covid lockdown memories of a group of Year Nine students at Cambridge High School are now frozen in time and what they wrote and produced about the pandemic proved quite an eye opener for judges this week.

Instead of moaning about how miserable life is like in lockdown, most of the Junior Plus class reflected on how lucky they are compared to teenagers during the Spanish flu and polio epidemics. It was part of a class project looking at the history of pandemics.

John McDonnell, Glenys Bichan and Kathryn Parsons judged Ella Webb’s project the best and her time capsule will go to the Cambridge Museum as a record of students’ reactions to the pandemic.

Kendra Todd, 14, and Monet Smith, 14, with their entries.

The 14-year-old said Covid made everything different for her, but she was surprised to see what previous generations had to put up with.

“The similarities are remarkable, but it was a more difficult time for them,” she said.

“The authorities (here) are doing the best they can. They listened to the facts and the science.”

Georgia Kuijpers, 13, will have her time capsule stored in Cambridge High School’s library to be opened at the school’s next jubilee, the 150th in 2033.

Monet Smith, 14, was third and Paola Velasco Bazaldua, 13, fourth.

Jack Stokes came in for a special mention for his powerful personal diary.

“Now as we are back at school, I look back at the struggles we have faced and smile at what we have been through because I have grown stronger,” he said.

Cambridge High School closed for two years from 1946 due to the polio epidemic.

“I can’t imagine me and my mates not seeing each other for a year, let alone two whole years.

“It would be torture especially considering back then they didn’t have any social media to connect with others.

Emily Bacon, 14, Jack Stokes, 14, Georgia Kuijpers, 13 with their entries.

“So next time I feel like complaining about Covid 19 and how it has affected me, I will try and remember how past students and people from all around the world have faced the same and sometimes worse challenges.

Cameron Hill, 14, said he got through lockdown by not worrying about his schoolwork, reading novels and playing games.

Kendra Todd, 14, said sometimes it was a challenge to get out of bed and do schoolwork.

The reality of the Covid pandemic was brought home to her when she saw people regularly wearing masks.

Monet Smith, 14, said researching taught her how people in the past survived pandemics.

“I knew nothing about polio or Spanish flu. They had it worse than us.”

Emily Bacon, 14 said people had to stay outside and have no contact with others during previous pandemics.

“Way more people died. Polio affected so many people.”

Junior Plus teacher and house dean Nadia Matson said the project was quite a revelation for her and the judges.

Teaching during the lockdown had also been challenging. Lessons had to be shorter and sharper. She and other teachers at Cambridge High School had stepped up and learned to pivot as circumstances dictated, she said.

Kendra Todd, 14, Monet Smith, 14, and Emily Bacon, 14.

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