New opportunities, creative social interaction helping students through quarantine


Abby Ann Ramsey, Editor-in-Chief

In the book The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, author Ryan Holiday states, “Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Oftentimes, we tend to look at the negative side of a situation or how an event has blocked us from getting where we want to go. The COVID-19 outbreak is obviously no exception as students and families in the Bearden community face devastating pandemic developments every day. 

It is vital to notice, however, the vast number of students that are taking this obstacle and using the extra free time as an opportunity to try something new or start a project they’ve never had time to start. Whether it’s building an online business from the ground up or allowing more time to have intentional conversations with friends, Bearden students are doing everything in their power to make sure they get the most out of this obstacle.

For about two years now, junior Katie Taylor has been making digital art designs featuring calligraphy and drawings through an app called Procreate. Because school has been out, Taylor started making her drawings into stickers and began selling them through an Instagram account.

“It wasn’t something I ever thought I would turn into stickers,” Taylor said. “I just did it for fun.”

Taylor spends about two or three hours every day just drawing custom orders, and what started out as a hobby has now gained enough traction for Taylor to open up an Etsy shop. You can find her on Instagram @katietaylorstickers and her Etsy account is KatieTaylorStickers.

Not only are Bearden students starting businesses, but they are also picking up new skills. Senior Yuval Koenig already knows English and Hebrew, but is learning French through the app Duolingo.

“I have always wanted to learn a new language and be trilingual but never found the time,” Koenig said.

Although Koenig equates her current French skills to those of a “toddler,” she plans to continue learning even after quarantine is over because spending 10-15 minutes a day on it has become a part of her routine.

Junior Natalie Duncan, a seasoned Bearden theatre student, is also keeping busy. She learned a song on piano a few months ago, but decided to start learning a little more with this extra time. She also frequently dedicates time to improving her current singing and dancing skills through online classes.

With free time being the new normal, it’s difficult for students to find the same kind of structure school allows, which can make the days feel long and often unproductive. But having a business gives Taylor a chance to have some sort of schedule and stay occupied.

“I don’t think it was something I would’ve done had quarantine not happened, and it’s kind of just become something I do to keep myself busy a little bit,” Taylor said.

Added Duncan: “Whenever I [practice] I feel like, ‘okay, I did that and I feel productive with that’… It’s been really good for me to be like ‘okay, well, now that I’m stuck here, I may as well try to get better at something.’”

Students are starting to see the results of these practices quickly as they improve their skills. On top of that, time seems to go by faster and the days are more meaningful.

“I found myself wasting so much time doing meaningless things just to make the days go by faster,” Koenig said. “Learning French has definitely given me something to look forward to each day, and I feel rewarded when I learn even just a word.”

In addition to providing a newfound sense of productivity, these habits provide a daily dose of positivity, which is sometimes hard to come by these days.

When the safer at home order was put into place, Koenig began to create a list of everything she has always wanted to do and has since been checking items off the list, one of them being French.

“At the beginning, I was upset that my senior year was over and that I would be missing so many experiences and opportunities that come with being a senior,” Koenig said. “Now, I could not be more happy to have this time to explore and experiment with things that I have always wanted to do.”

This sense of positivity expands past the individual students as other people begin to see what they are doing.

“A lot of the time when I get an email or a DM from someone like ‘I got my order today, it made my day!’ it really makes me feel good that in such a scary and uncertain time, it’s bringing a little bit of joy into people’s lives,” Taylor said.

Learning new skills or creating art are not the only ways to ensure this time is used purposefully. In the midst of everything going on, it’s important to remember that it is okay to not start that project you’ve always wanted to but to instead use the time to process what’s happening and communicate with people, even if it’s not over a cup of coffee or in a movie theatre.

Bearden students are frequently using social media, FaceTime, Zoom, and even handwritten letters to make sure they keep in contact with and check in on those closest to them. Also, there are ways to have face-to-face interaction while still safely adhering to CDC guidelines.

Senior Emma Vaughn has seen her friends a few times by meeting them in parking lots and having everyone back their cars into a circle with each car at least six feet away from the next. This way, they can sit in their trunks and watch the sunset together while they catch up and practice social distancing. Creating this opportunity also causes Vaughn to appreciate the time she has with these people.

“If I were to do this before quarantine, it would’ve simply been another time to see my friends, whereas now I become more intentional with the time I am given to see friends face to face,” Vaughn said.

In isolation, connection is extremely important. This is especially true as students need people to rally around them and let them know that even though everyone is isolated right now, they are not alone. 

“As a senior, being able to see a few friends face to face has made the situation more lighthearted,” Vaughn said. “Although I am blessed to not have serious loss, seeing others reminds me I am not the only one who has lost things during this time.”

Now is the perfect time to try that new recipe, pick up the guitar you haven’t touched in years, or even call that person you haven’t talked to in a while. Bearden students already seem to be accomplishing the lofty task of turning this obstacle into a great opportunity. 

“I really encourage everyone to sit down and make a list of things you have always wanted to do (no matter how crazy) and take this time to slowly check things off and pursue things that aren’t part of a curriculum,” Koenig said. “I have definitely learned so much about myself and have become so much happier that I get to explore things I have always wanted to explore.”