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"The Importance of School and Extracurricular Activities" by Kjirstin Hopfer, Ocosta HS
 12/16/2020 12:00:00 AM

Kjirstin Hopfer
Ocosta High School, Class of 2021

My name is Kjirstin Hopfer and I am a senior at Ocosta Highschool where I play varsity baseball and club softball. Playing on my select softball team, extracurricular activities never really ended for me when my junior baseball season was cut short by the Covid-19 guidelines mandated by our governor. Although, our baseball team that year had a very good shot at being state contenders and my sport filled lifestyle was put on hold for about two months which led me to be pretty bummed. During the period of time where practices and competitions were no longer a part of my life, I had grown a deeper appreciation for all of the activities I participate in as I had noticed my mental health was not as strong as it normally is. I was extremely blessed to have been on my travel softball team as we had started to do practices with masks on, temperature checks, and small groups in different sessions. Although we played in only two tournaments, we still had the opportunity to travel to Idaho and Oklahoma to compete where the tournaments required masks and social distancing. Due to the fact that all of the players on my team are future division I/ II athletes, these tournaments were important for recruitment in which all of our games had been streamed for scouting coaches to watch. I am truly blessed as I am still able to travel (even if it’s way less than usual) and participate in the game I love.

This spring, my sister had been hired at Starbucks and my mom had pushed extremely hard for me to apply there as well. My mom had explained to me that school will be online and I will no longer have that social interaction that is good for every teens health...oh boy was she right. I had a summer job already when I had been offered the job in late July so at first I had thought that it was all going to be too much. After everything had slowed down and I had started my classes online, my appreciation for my job grew tremendously. Having the oppurtunity to work at Starbucks has been nothing but amazing for my mental health as I am able to work in an environment with extremely positive people and have actually developed some really cool relationships with my many coworkers. I truly believe that without this job, I would go crazy being stuck in my house doing school through a computer screen all day. On the days that I am off at work and doing my assignments for school, I find myself feeling sluggish as I literally lay in bed for most of the day while working. Although I am getting so many things done, everything feels so strange as I complete schoolwork in the comfort of my own bed while I’m still in my pajamas. I have always been such a busy body so I have been blessed to have these activities in my life throughout a global pandemic.

When everything had been shut down the first time, my mental health was not at its best and anxieties were high. No one knew how long schools would be out of session or how long it would be until they would be able to at least practice with their sports teams and the sad thing now is, no one still knows. I am aware that I have been blessed with the travel softball opportunities but I think about everyone else throughout the state who is depending on school and their extracurricular activities. College athletics have found a way to make it Covid safe and so have the tournaments I have participated in so I am not understanding why our youth does not have the same opportunities as everyone else. High School student athletes who depended on their sports seasons for recruiting now face the anxiety of figuring out where they can go to better their future. Also, learning over the computer is not even remotely the same as in person learning as it seems that students are almost having to teach themselves or figure out how to do the assignment without even learning the concepts around it. The youth are the future and right now, it seems as if the youth are being minimalized of their opportunities in some of their biggest years of growth.

School can be looked at as a second home for some students as they receive meals, positive support from staff members, and are provided with extracurricular activity opportunities. Not everyone is able to go out and create opportunities for themselves whereas schools provide different activities and oppurtunities. I think of the kids who have a rough home life where school IS that happy getaway. When I think of the kids who depend on school to get away from abusive homes… that is when my heart breaks. We know the steps it takes to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, why can’t we implement that in our schools as well? Mental health for young students and student athletes seems as if it is a bigger problem than the virus itself killing a student from attending school. I feel as if I am able to go to work and make coffees for customers, I should be able to attend school as well. I also live in a very small tourist town in which tourism has never really stopped like it always does after Memorial Day and it has been the busiest I have ever seen it this last year. With nearly everything being online, people have more freedom to go do whatever they please and that just does not make much sense to me. Young kids are at a much lower risk of dying from the virus yet they are the ones who are sitting more at home. With this being said and with the fact that mental health for students across our state being at an all time low, I truly believe that the kids need to be back in school. We know the procedures it takes to prevent the spread as they have been implemented in the workforce, they need to now be implemented in our schools.

From: Bob Raidl 12/16/2020 1:17 PM

Very well expressed. It appears that students, like you, have a voice in the matter of reopening schools, but not a vote. Those who can vote, are choosing to minimize liability.

From: Kevin Olson 1/4/2021 9:00 AM

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I agree that we can get things done remotely, but it's certainly not the same and the relationships we normally build in the classroom are definitely missing. Club sports are finding ways to make it work, so I hope schools will be able to make it happen soon as well. Good Luck to you Kjirstin!

From: Ann Twelves 1/4/2021 11:28 AM

Very well expressed by someone fully affected by the decisions of others. School is more than a place to learn academics, as you have articulated. Thank you for speaking out.

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December 2020

12/16/2020 "The Importance of School and Extracurricular Activities" by Kjirstin Hopfer, Ocosta HS

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