Please note: This is the last installment of Current Events Conversation for the 2019-2020 school year. This feature will resume in mid-September.


For our final roundup of student comments on our writing prompts for the school year, we asked teenagers to share how the pandemic has altered their dating lives, whether or not they believe in ghosts, and what songs propel them through hard times.

We’d like to give a warm welcome to the new students who joined the conversation this week from Caledonia, Mich.; Canterbury High School, Ottawa; Kentwood, Mich.; Manheim, Pa.; Markham, Canada; Middleville, Mich.; Sharon, Mass. and Yangon, Myanmar.

And thank you to all the students from all over the world who participated in our Current Events Conversation this school year! We loved getting to read what you wrote.

Please note: Student comments have been lightly edited for length, but otherwise appear as they were originally submitted.


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Credit…Jessica Muller

In “Miss Your Friends? Try Being a Teenager in Love,” Alexandra E. Petri writes about the travails of dating under lockdown.

We asked students how they are faring romantically in these unique times. Teenagers — coupled and single — weighed in on the challenges of cultivating relationships of all types while in isolation.

Quarantine sucks. Since the quarantine me and my significant other, who I have been dating for almost three years, haven’t been able to see each other in person at all. Both of our parents aren’t letting us go out anywhere except to either pick up groceries or go to the store. Luckily we live in a time where FaceTime, Zoom, and other live video calling platforms are a thing because without them I would be going insane right now.

Ashton Gray, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

I myself also have a significant other and we could not see each other for the first 30 days. We also went through tough times like the article said and we basically communicate through FaceTime and go for socially distanced walks. Relationships aren’t always going to be easy, so stick around and don’t give up on your partner.

Ryan, Caledonia

My advice for any couples is to stay in contact by any means necessary, even just a simple good morning text means a lot to your partner. Most importantly you need to just have hope and stay strong, just think about the special moment when you get to see your partner again and how happy you will feel.

Luke Craig, Caledonia, Michigan

I am not in a relationship, but I did have a thing with this guy. I ended it though, quarantine got in the way and I just realized I don’t need to be in a relationship anytime soon. If I was in a relationship my parents wouldn’t let me go see him or hangout. They barely let me go out for a run or outside with my neighbor to have a conversation. It bothers them mainly because of this pandemic. People nowadays just mess with each other’s feelings and are looking to have fun, not many want a serious relationship at the moment like these couples who have been dating for quite some time.

Alondra, California

I started dating someone the day before lockdown began. At first we called each other a lot and texted each other every day. Our parents allowed us to see each other a few times in person. It was difficult, and we broke up about two weeks ago. I think it would have lasted longer if we were not in quarantine.

Lexus Lawlor, Caledonia, Michigan

My boyfriend and I started dating only three weeks before quarantine started, so the timing really couldn’t have been worse. I’ve been quarantining for over two months, and we haven’t been able to see each other the entire time, because my parents aren’t allowing me to leave the house or see any other people. Additionally, both my boyfriend and I struggle with mental health, and isolation has taken an obvious toll on both of us, and put a big strain in our relationship. We’re finding it really difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with boundaries that work for both of us, while being far apart with limited contact and intense stress from school, with no certain end in sight. I don’t have any advice for the teenage couples I’ve read about who are struggling, because I don’t know how to cope with it either. I just suggest putting lots of emphasis on communication.

Grace, Connecticut

We all need human connection to survive and if we don’t get it we will become comfortable being alone. Many find that as a good thing but if you really think about it you can develop mental illnesses without even noticing and in the future you won’t feel comfortable talking to people about it because you perceive it as normal. Teens especially need contact because we are about dive into adulthood and we have to cherish the left over time we have as teens.

Suzie Kourkaji, North Hollywood CA

Although I am currently not dating anyone at the moment, I can still experience what it must be like to not be able to physically be with your lover. The stress and loneliness while being isolated must be painful to begin with and to not be able to see their partner must have increased the amount of anxiety. Yet, I can’t say the same for my friends because even though social distancing has been placed, they will still go out of their way to visit their boyfriends. Now, If I was a parent, it will be extremely difficult for me to allow my child outside because of the pandemic.

Jackie, California

I’m not in a relationship and neither are my two closest friends, It’s been hard enough to not see them because I before I used to see them all the time. Through this quarantine, I’ve found myself less interested in guys. Like I’ll find some dude attractive or whatever but I won’t go out of my way to speak to anyone or even think about relationships. I just miss my friends, and I wish I could have fun with them and mess around, the longer this quarantine goes the less interested I get. I think part of it is because I can’t go out and see people or talk to people as much as I could before without really getting bored, so all I do is read these terrible things or see people saying stupid things and it makes me not want to talk to anyone.

Sophie DeMontagnac, Cary, NC

Older generations have always criticized teenager’s attachments to their devices, but now they have become an even more integral part in our lives- a life line to our sanity of sorts. As we endure this pandemic and seek to upkeep our social habits and our emotional needs, our screen times are through the roof. It’s not satisfying to me, nor is it for my boyfriend or friends. So now, as we have all been at home for 2 months, I look forward to going on walks. I beg my parents and he begs his and we are fortunate enough to be able to see each other, and in such a beautiful environment at that. Stealing away for hikes seems to me as the least risk involved interaction, and for us touch deprived teenagers, necessary to remain content. We long for sitting in fast food joints and going over to each others houses, but we thrive in the lack of pressure to socialize now. I adore seeing a few friends at a time promoting a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Essentially surviving a long distance relationship is a testament to my friendships and my relationship, and it just makes me appreciate and love them all the more. I cannot wait to embrace them all when this nightmare is over, and never again take a night out for granted.

Alina Kreynovich, Maryland

To teenage couples, I would say to think of the situation the world is going through at the moment: we are in a global pandemic. It may be very difficult to maintain distance from significant others, but it is important to understand that we are doing this to keep each other safe. By seeing each other, you are putting him/her, as well as your family at risk. Many people are losing their loved ones to this virus, and the best thing you can do is to prevent it by social distancing. To the families, please understand that in our generation, social interaction is a crucial part to our lives. At school, we are taught to engage in discussions and increase participation and collaboration. We have been encouraged to do so since our first step into school. It is a very difficult time right now, but the most important thing is to be safe, but also understand how it has affected different people.

Susanna, Los Angeles, CA

I believe that if your teenager is in love and they want to see each other they should see each other maybe not every day but once a week. If you still want social distancing then back 2 cars up and sit on the back end and talk. I have never had a special other so I do not know everything that may feel but allow some sort of in-person connection would greatly help them.

If I was a Parent I would let them go see them but set a time of 2 to 3 hours and supervise from a distance and I know that may sound controlling but to keep both of the teenagers safe is to limit some of their time. But I would not say no after how long it has been for them and how much they may be hurting.

Marcia, Grand Rapids, MI

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Credit…via Adrian Gomez

In the midst of stay-at-home orders, some people have reported experiencing paranormal activity while at home, writes Molly Fitzpatrick in Quarantining With a Ghost? It’s Scary.

We asked students if they believe in ghosts. Some told us about the personal encounters and cultural values that have inspired their belief in spirits. Others turned to science and reason to explain what they think happens when someone says they’ve seen a ghost.

Last January, my mom and I were going to go sledding. I was finished getting ready and my Mom was in the basement putting on her boots. I was standing in our living room and turned around to look at all the snow in our backyard. However, instead of first seeing snow, I saw this woman that looked like she was in her late 30’s standing in my backyard. I turned back toward my living room and screamed to my mom that someone was in our backyard. My mom immediately rushed upstairs and when I turned around there was nobody there. We then looked on our security camera which showed that there was nobody there. My mom asked me to describe this woman and I described exactly what I saw. My mom then pulled out this picture from her purse and I saw the lady that was standing in my backyard. I immediately screamed and thought that I was dreaming. The picture was a younger version of my grandmother that died when I was little. To this day this story still sends chills up and down my back. I now definitely believe in ghosts.

Gabriel LaRosa, J.R. Masterman

Well yeah I believe in ghosts, I’ve actually experienced an encounter probably like 3 times, but the one that sticks out the most is when about two years ago one of my pet cats passed away randomly with no signs of sickness or any issues prior. This cat didn’t like me all that much, so naturally I’m the one she’d pick to haunt. The reason I am positive she’s haunting me is that things happen in my room only and they are such things that cats would do, stuff knocked off my shelves, that have been there for months, would fall for no reason, scratching at my door when our only other cats were outside or in my brother’s room, and the feeling of my legs being rubbed against just randomly no matter if day or night.

Connor Greene, Fontainebleau High, Mandeville, LA

I do believe in maybe spirits or souls, and not necessarily troubled ones. Before my family lived in the house we live in now, an elderly couple lived here. The wife (a nice old lady) died and her husband sold the house to us. Well, sometimes my family and I hear creaks and rattlings and we joke with each other that it’s Mrs. Gee, the old woman who died. I like to think she is just vibin with us and protecting us in a way.

Yasmine, Long Island NY

In the Hispanic culturally saturated childhood, I was taught about spirits at a young age. My grandmother is extremely Christian and refuses to watch any movie dealing with demonic sprits; in fear of attracting them. My mom does not mess with anything involving ghosts or “evil spirits.” That’s where I’m the odd one out. I have always had an interest in spirits. I have attempted to communicate with them via Ouija board. I had one bad experience with it that made me realize it was more than just a game. I won’t go in depth but after that specific occurrence, I began to experience weird phenomena for months after. I’ve also had paranormal experiences before this occurred, especially in my early childhood. All these experiences have led me to believe strongly in ghosts.

adriana aguilar, North Carolina

I believe in ghost but not how they are portrayed in horror movies. In my religion ghosts are people that died and haven’t fully cross over to heaven, hell or to be reincarnated. in the Buddhist religion the 49 days after someone dies they’ll still be around, those 49 days they can be consider as a ghost. but after 49 days they are still attached to a love one or something they’ll stay as a ghost and follow that person or thing.

Hung N, Brooklyn

I don’t believe in ghosts but I believe in spirits. For example I celebrate the day of the dead with my family. In Mexican culture we believe that through October 31st to November 1st spirits of our dead family members come back to visit us. We leave food and drinks and some pictures at their graves as something to offer them when they come back. For my family we use pictures of our dead ones and we set up an ofrenda, which is a beautiful assortment of flowers, pictures, items that are special to the person, and food. So I guess you could say that I believe in spirits not ghosts.

Izel, J.R. Masterman

Being scientifically-oriented, I cannot possibly believe that ghosts are real. I do not know how or why people see ghosts, but I am not surprised the amount of people who do because movies, books, and culture influences a lot of people’s views. There has been an increase in the reports of ghosts probably because people are already in that anxious mindset. But personally, I have never and will never see a ghost.

Cheryl Yee, San Francisco, CA

I do not believe ghosts are real. Just trusting how much we know about science, I don’t think its possible. It is so easy to fake a photograph or video of a ghost nowadays that I can’t trust any supposed sighting I see. I have never seen a ghost or anything remotely close to it.

Evan Peña, Hoggard High School

I’ve heard of stories from others who’ve apparently seen a “ghost.” Usually they describe their story as something that happened to them while they were home alone in the dark … I think that the idea of the existence ghosts has something to do with our mind’s inability to comprehend what’s going on in the darkness. In other words when we can see clearly we are aware of our surroundings and know what’s going on. But, when it’s dark we, all of a sudden, are inundated with all sorts of strange feelings.

Rishi, Ontario, Canada

I do NOT believe in ghost. My mom has tried to convince me, but I am confident it is just the human mind getting creative. I feel that for each of these instances there is some natural reason they all occurred.

Alexis A., Cary, NC

I don’t really believe in a person’s soul staying to take care of “unfinished business” or something. It just doesn’t make sense. Also, think about it, if a “ghost” really wanted to finish up something and reach out to a person they wouldn’t be messing around by rattling doorknobs and moving things around. I personally have never encountered a ghost of any sort and neither has anyone in my family that I know of.

What I do think is really happening right now in these times of quarantine is that people are noticing things that they’ve never noticed before now that they’re confined to their homes for the most part. Some people might as well be going crazy, bored at home so their imagination takes off, noticing random things and creating unexplainable visions. I do enjoy horror movies, TV shows, and books with supernatural concepts though. It makes us people wonder and question the existence of things. Just something for our wild imaginations to run off of.

Huzayfa, Chicago, IL

I find ghosts a very interesting topic to discuss about. If I consciously remind myself that ghosts exist, then I begin to hear sounds. If I do not even bother thinking about ghosts, then nothing ever happens. After this happening hundreds of times over the years, I have come to the conclusion that ghosts are just a figment of our imagination. After all, there is not any scientific evidence to prove that they do exist.

Saharsh Satheesh, Collierville High School, Tennessee

I believe in a lot of things, and ghosts are absolutely one of them. I believe that after people or animals pass they can come back as spirits to watch over their loved ones. I also think that believing in ghosts gives you more hope for the future. As people pass, in my opinion, they go to heaven, and to think they could come back and make sure that I am doing well makes me feel very secure. Now with haunting, I do think that spirits can come back and haunt people if they have done something wrong or if the spirit possible got trapped somewhere and they cant leave. I mean if you got trapped somewhere for hundreds of years, wouldn’t you be a little angry too?

Mya Ferguson, Hoggard High School, in Wilmington NC

I don’t really believe in ghosts, but I do think there are remnants of people who have died in locations stuck there forever. When there is a sudden gust of wind, I do have some feeling it’s a dead person. When people do pass, I don’t think they fully leave, like others may think. There will always be something to remind people of that person, no matter what. A part of them will remain somewhere, in the world, forever.

Gianna Sticco, J. R. Masterman

I’ve always been interested in the paranormal. When I was younger I would make Ouija boards out of printer paper and try them out in my house, though they never really worked. As I got older, my curiosity never really vanished. I started playing games that took place in a paranormal setting, such as Sally Face and IB. Even now, I’m still interested in it. I’ve watched videos on everything from ghosts to superhumans, although I don’t exactly know why they’re so popular.

Arianna Andriyevsky, Julia R. Masterman

I’m not the biggest fan of anything to do with horror. The farthest I’ll go is vampire stories or fantasy. I’m a person who gets scared very easily. Ask any of my friends or family and they’ll tell you how much of a scaredy-cat I am. Even if I know someone is trying to scare me, I’ll still get scared. I once tried to read a horror book. I got about 20 pages into the book, but I couldn’t read it anymore cause I was too spooked … But in general I still think the concept of ghosts is still scary and I know that it’s silly that a 13-year old is still scared of ghosts, but that’s just who I am!

Ayona Kuriakose, J. R. Masterman

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Staff members at hospitals in the New York metropolitan area have been playing songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the “Rocky” theme and “Every Breath You Take” to celebrate the release of patients who had been hospitalized because of the coronavirus.

We asked students to share the songs they play to celebrate a milestone or inspire resilience. Their suggestions ranged from classic rock to contemporary pop and hip-hop. Some songs have explicitly hopeful lyrics, while others invoke emotion more subtly.

Thinking about hope in these times makes me think of upbeat songs, like “Happy” or “Can’t stop the Feeling.” Despite the songs being purely positive and usually used for celebrations, I think these songs would fit into today’s atmosphere. As a collective society, we need to be reminded of better times, which can be associated with these happy-feeling songs. Plus, it never hurts to keep a positive attitude for those who look up to you.

Abby, North Carolina

My song of Victory is Bob Mcferrin “Don’t Worry Be Happy” it’s a simple and joyful tune and it’s a song that not many people make nowadays. Throughout the song he writes silly scenarios for a person to upset. For example “Ain’t got no place to lay your head. Somebody came and took your bed. Don’t worry, be happy.” It’s just so comforting and relaxing as he sings to you to stay calm and be happy. So if I ever recover from a disease someone is gonna have to play. And if I don’t recover, play at my funeral

Ahmed Ali, J.R Masterman School

My song of hope would be Tongue Tied by Grouplove. When I play this song all I can about it summer, and the wonderful memories I made with my friends and family in Florida. We blasted this song in the car, screaming it at the top of our lungs. I felt so happy in this moment, as if I was on top of the world. The lyrics might not support the idea of hope, but the beat of the song and the memories I think of when listening to it full me with hope and happiness.

KM, Brooklyn, New York

“Finish Line/Drown” by Chance the Rapper featuring various artists is my post AP exam anthem. I love it because Chance’s rapping is backed by a wonderful choir and happy beats that truly make you feel like you are crossing that finish line. Then T-Pain sings the chorus and brings on more of that “I did it” energy. And to wrap it up, Eryn Allen Kane’s “doo-doo-doo-doo-doo” in between just makes you feel so lifted. This is one of those gospel-rooted songs, so that’s probably why it sounds so uplifting and probably why you should listen to it

Cheryl Yee, San Francisco, CA

My song of hope probably is something big from Shawn Mendes. This song just makes me smile. When celebrating or achieving a difficult milestone, is Probably Drake or Dababy their both my favourite rappers/singers.

Lina Ahmed, Ottawa, ON. Canterbury high school

I would pick “Hey Look Ma” by Panic! at the Disco since it’s about finally reaching a goal, and then telling someone (ma) about it. Its tune is also upbeat signalling hope/pride.

Brycinea Stratton, J.R. Masterman

I would probably pick “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child because this song is telling us that we are going to survive this whole pandemic.

Lucia Hackerman, Charlotte Vermont

I think a song I would pick is Dreams and Nightmares by Meek Mill. I chose this because the song talks about how he was able to get over all of the obstacles in his life and how he was able to get to the top and have a better life. I know it isn’t the best of songs but it does mean a lot to me and my community and gives us the motivation that we can do anything even when things try to stop us.

Katelyn C, J.R Masterman

My song of hope is “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It reminds me of when my bus driver played it on the way to school when I was younger. The lyrics “Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over” give me motivation for whatever I want to do. The lyrics “Chasing dreams since I was fourteen” tells me to pursue my goals even during this COVID-19 pandemic. Times may change but stick with what you are doing.

Sai Shettar, Berwyn, PA

One song that has been on my mind is “We are the World” by Michael Jackson. The song symbolizes the support that others have for me and the support that I send. During this time, this song shows that there is power in each human being, and that coming together to have a goal of getting through this unusual time will help us achieve this goal. I remember watching a music video for this song, where many singers came together to support one another and to bring awareness to the tragic event of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. This song portrays unity, that we, the people that make up the world, together, will overcome this difficult time period.

Susanna, Los Angeles, CA

My “song of hope” is called ‘Dayfly’ by DEAN. The song is about when you wake up, wash away bad, old memories, and look at how the most important thing is that you are alive in that moment. It brings me hope because there are people who may not know me, but care that I am a part of this world.

Phebe Truong, J.R Masterman

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