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Meet Matthew

Matthew participated in our Fatherhood Photobank Campaign, and he was happy to share how the Covid-19 pandemic threatened his stability as a young student.

Meet Matthew, a talented freshman-year Varsity football player, as he shares his unique perspective on navigating through the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath. In this insightful interview, Matthew candidly reflects on the impact of remote learning on his daily routine and study habits. He opens up about the emotions he experienced during the transition from in-person classes to virtual learning, revealing moments of joy, isolation, and the support he found within his family. Join us as we delve into Matthew’s personal journey and discover his hopes, fears, and aspirations for the upcoming school year.

How did the shift to remote learning impact your daily routine and study habits?

It definitely had an impact on my daily routine and study habits. Before, when I attended school, I would go through my morning routine of showering, getting dressed, and doing all these things before heading to school. But with remote learning, all I really had to do was throw on a shirt and log into Zoom. It required a lot less effort. I would wake up just 15-20 minutes before class and hop online. In-person learning allowed me to interact with my friends and have those morning chats, but all of that changed during virtual learning.

Photography by: Ethel Rucker

What were some of the biggest emotions you experienced during the transition from in-person classes to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Honestly, I felt really sad. Transitioning from in-person to remote learning really cut down the number of people I interacted with on a daily basis. Not being able to see my friends every day and actually interact with people had a big impact on me. I used to talk to many of my friends outside of school, but that changed during virtual learning. I missed seeing them so often. It was also scary because we didn’t know how long it would last or when we would be able to go back to school.

How did you cope with the feelings of isolation and the absence of face-to-face interactions with teachers and classmates?

I spent a lot of time with my family. During my seventh-grade year, I moved in with my Nana, and my cousin was also doing remote learning with me. This brought us closer together because we were going through the same experience. We played games, spent time outdoors, had conversations, watched movies and TV shows, and
shared jokes.

Photography by: Ethel Rucker

Can you share a specific moment when you felt overwhelmed or discouraged during remote learning, and what did you do to overcome those emotions?

At one point there was an opportunity for me to return to in-person school, but my mom was hesitant because of health concerns. So, I continued with virtual learning. That was really upsetting and made me sad because I had the chance to see my friends again, but I couldn’t. It was also challenging to keep up with the rules and circumstances always changing, making it a confusing time. To overcome those emotions, I tried to focus on staying positive and finding ways to make the most of
the situation.

Were there any surprising moments of joy or connection that you experienced while learning remotely? Can you share an example that made you feel uplifted or inspired?

There were times when I couldn’t join Zoom calls because of issues like having the wrong link or the link not working at all. In those situations, I would email my teachers and ask if they could resend the Zoom l ink. They were always understanding and helpful, which made it easier for me to overcome those technological challenges.

Reflecting on the challenges you faced, what role did your support system, such as family, friends, or teachers, play in helping you navigate through difficult emotions during the pandemic?

My family was definitely my main support system. They provided me with encouragement and assistance whenever I needed it. If there was something I didn’t understand from my teacher, I would first ask my cousin because we were in the same school. If we both struggled, we would turn to other family members like our aunt or grandmother, who were also very supportive. They wanted to ensure that we were doing our best and had the help we needed.

As schools reopened and you transitioned back to in-person classes, what emotions did you experience? Were there any concerns or anxieties you had to address, and how did you manage those feelings?

It felt amazing to go back to school and have that sense of normal again. I was so used to virtual learning, but it was isolating. So, being able to return to school and experience things like school bells, lockers, walking down hallways, and being with friends again felt great.
It was refreshing.

Looking forward to the upcoming school year, what emotions do you anticipate experiencing? Are there any hopes, fears, or aspirations you would like to share as you embark on this new chapter of your academic journey?

Oh, there are definitely a lot of emotions! But mainly, I’m super excited about sports. I made the Varsity football team, and I can’t wait for the high school sports experience. I play running back, and we’ve been practicing since June.

On the other hand, I do have this little fear at the back of my mind. You see, they’re changing things up in our school building. The tricky part is that they’re keeping the 9th graders with the rest of the middle schoolers. So, on one side, we’ll have 7th to 9th graders, while the other side will be 10th to 12th graders. It’s a bummer because I won’t be able to see my teammates, except during football. I’m not too thrilled about that, to be honest.

What other interests do you have for school? Any additional extracurriculars or classes you’re looking forward to taking?

Sports definitely take the spotlight for me, but I understand that school comes first. So, I’m going to give it my all. I’m actually pretty excited about gym class.

Oh, and—a culinary class! Because I really love cooking. Right now, I like making burgers. Grilling and BBQing are my thing. But having the chance to take a culinary class and improve my cooking skills as a life survival skill? That’s going to be good for me!u

Photography by: Ethel Rucker

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