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In March 2020, The 74 launched “Pandemic Notebook,” an intimate series designed to capture, in their own words, how students are living through this unprecedented period of disruption, fear and loss. Some grappled with young love in a time of virtual connection; one, locked inside her home, experienced the deep trauma of parental abuse. Entries were marked by lessons on privilege and equity, mask confusion and life-changing YouTube videos. Here are their stories.

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Pandemic Yearbook: 9 Students — in Their Own Words — on Life, Learning and Loss

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9 stories in this Storyboard
    Student Voice: ‘Canvas’ Bitmojis, Fascinating Teacher Digressions and Other Reasons to Be Hopeful as Virtual School Starts Anew

    Student Voice: ‘Canvas’ Bitmojis, Fascinating Teacher Digressions and Other Reasons to Be Hopeful as Virtual School Starts Anew

    This was the least nervous I’d ever been for a first day of school. No harried backpack repacking when the longest trip I’ll be making is from my bed to my desk. No frantic outfit selection when all my peers will see are the seven or so pixels composing my shirt on Zoom. I wasn’t totally unruffled: There was a good deal of unnecessary reorganizing going on in my room at 11 p.m. Still, I went to bed filled with a surprising sense of calm.

    How Neil deGrasse Tyson Got a Chicago Senior Through the Pandemic

    How Neil deGrasse Tyson Got a Chicago Senior Through the Pandemic

    It goes without saying, but last year was strange and rough for everyone. I lost my grandmother, watched the world rally against police brutality and saw school descend into chaos. I fully expected everything to just continue going downhill as the world made less and less sense. Like most people during the pandemic, being locked in the same room for what felt like forever made me unimaginably depressed. The only time I got to leave the house was to bury my grandmother.

    Pandemic Notebook: For Students from Low-Income, Immigrant Families, Getting into College Can Feel like Winning the Golden Ticket. The Pandemic Has Only Raised the Stakes

    Pandemic Notebook: For Students from Low-Income, Immigrant Families, Getting into College Can Feel like Winning the Golden Ticket. The Pandemic Has Only Raised the Stakes

    I was sitting in my room when admissions decisions for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship finally arrived. My high school’s college counselor texted me midway through AP English Lit on Zoom. “I’m ready whenever you are,” she wrote. “No pressure.” For the previous half hour, I had been thoroughly entertained as my class acted out scenes from “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The comedic attempts at Southern accents provided a welcome break from the day’s nervous anticipation.

    Pandemic Notebook: Young Love in the Time of COVID-19

    Pandemic Notebook: Young Love in the Time of COVID-19

    There is a breed of champion racehorses, which in order to win, bite their own necks to get more oxygen. I think about these horses a lot. Once, in an easier time, I pretended to browse a sushi menu with great intensity. I don’t even like fish. Across from me was my date, and next to me was my best friend sitting in front of her date, who was sitting next to his friend who was sitting across from his date. It turned out the third couple didn’t like fish either — they each ate a bowl of white rice. By the end of the night, their bill was two dollars.

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