Hayley Galsworthy hasn’t had a typical Grade 12 experience—but, she writes, the pandemic has helped pull faith off the back burner.
Four years ago, I stood in front of the seemingly giant high school building, my hands shaking with nerves. Being a Grade 9 student, entering high school was a daunting experience. The big classrooms, tall students and loud hallways were something I was not used to. I remember always looking up to the older students, wowed by their maturity. I dreamed about my chance to become that senior student I looked up to, getting the chance to experience my final year, celebrating my last four years of high school.
It is quite easy to say that this is not exactly the year I had in mind. Like many of my peers, I was excited to hear about 2020’s extended March break and was not that upset about the cancellation of the rest of the school year. My friends and I stayed positive but inevitably became realistic, going from “At least we’ll still get our senior year,” to “I’m sure everything will be normal by Christmas,” to “I don’t think we’re going to have a prom this year.”
Grade 12 is supposed to be the best year of high school, with homecoming, spirit weeks, floodlight football games, prom, grad, grad trips, and more. Little did we know that the highlight of our senior year would be leaving our bedrooms to go to the grocery store. However, I have learned to make the best of this unprecedented situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous positives to my life. Being a teenager, I can’t complain when my normal 6:30 a.m. wake-up is extended to 8 a.m. Working from home all of the time has also taught me a lot about self-motivation and holding myself accountable for due dates and deadlines, giving me a taste of the adult world. There is no denying that this experience has prepared me for my transition into university, where teachers will not constantly remind me of due dates.
“I started praying on a more regular basis, and found myself having more discussions about faith with my family and peers. As a result, I have become a more grateful and empathetic person.”
Most importantly, this pandemic has had drastic impacts on my faith. Life before the pandemic was consistently busy and overwhelming, with constant events, friend hangouts, and schoolwork. I have found that a lot of time has been freed up for me. While before the pandemic I rarely had time for self-reflection and inner growth, this past year has been full of it. In the early months of quarantine, I found myself having a lot more conversations with God, asking to keep my family safe, and simply looking for reassurance that everything will be just fine. As my Grade 12 year started, I had the time to get more involved within the diocese—time that I didn’t have before. I have had the time to join more of the youth initiatives offered at my church and within the diocese.
These opportunities have sparked conversations about God, life and bettering the world around us. And these conversations have made me realize that I was taking life for granted, not being mindful and appreciative of the life I have been given. I started praying on a more regular basis, and found myself having more discussions about faith with my family and peers. As a result, I have become a more grateful and empathetic person. Without the pandemic, God and my faith would have continued to be put on the back burner, and would not have the impact on my life that they do today.
While my high school experience has not been traditional, I am still extremely grateful for the positives it has provided in my life. I smile remembering that scared Grade 9 girl, not aware of the whirlwind the next four years of her life were going to be.
Hayley Galsworthy is a Grade 12 student at Waterdown District High School in Waterdown, Ont., and plans to pursue an education in biomedical engineering after high school. She is a member of St. John’s Anglican Church in Ancaster and participates in numerous church and diocese-wide activities.