Students flourish amidst pandemic summer

Summer vacation is the perfect time for students to relax and enjoy a break before the start of the new school year. Many CVHS students take this time as the perfect opportunity to travel, do internships and jobs, or just spend time with friends and family. This summer was one like no other. With the COVID-19 restrictions placed upon Americans, many students were saddened to hear that the plans that they had would be canceled. 

“My plans for the summer prior to the pandemic were to travel to Hawaii and Canada,” said senior Jolie Tran. “I was also supposed to partake in a pharmaceutical internship, but since most health-related internships were canceled, my internships were switched to business.”

Despite this, CVHS students worked past this barrier and make the best out of their summer. As companies and businesses began to go virtual to adhere to social distancing and shelter in place policies, some offered remote or virtual internships. 

Although the initial setback of losing a pharmaceutical internship may have been disheartening, Tran was able to gain the opportunity to intern at two local businesses in Castro Valley — Aurora Catering and State Farm — and also partake in a student-led organization to provide free tutoring services to elementary and middle school students. 

Kyle Sean participated in a virtual internship for BART.

“The pandemic affected my summer activities quite a bit,” said Tran. “But I think [it] helped me get both of these internships and experiences that I never thought I would get throughout the course of the summer.” 

Senior Kyle Sean was also able to spend his summer further exploring his career interests. 

“I did a BART internship over the summer, working in the computer system engineering department,” said Sean. 

Some companies such as BART allowed students to go on-site on various days to fully immerse themselves in the experience. “[COVID-19] affected some parts of my internship where I worked in the BART office for only two days,” Sean said. “Our project had some research we had to do, but it was mainly hands-on so it was difficult to complete what we had to do in those two days.”

Senior Bianca Yoos was going to be a lifeguard at her local pool before the COVID-19 restrictions prevented the pools from opening. Luckily, she was recommended by her fifth-grade teacher to babysit her neighbor’s 16-month-old son. 

Yoos worked hard throughout the summer, waking up early every morning to get to her job. In the end, she had a wonderful experience playing and bonding with the infant.

“I had an amazing summer with my best friend Oscar,” she said. “I would babysit again in the future. It’s so fun taking care of a baby.”

Erin McGowan took an online course to get ahead in school.

Other students such as freshman Erin McGowan made use of her break to take online courses. McGowan had planned to spend her summer hanging out with her friends and working as a camp counselor. 

“I decided to get some extra A-G credits,” she said. “I took an online class.”

Through a program called UC Scout, McGowan was able to utilize her summer break as a time to get ahead in school. Many CVHS students also took advantage of the free courses available at the local community colleges through concurrent enrollment. 

Alexa Cango Ruiz competed with her equine partner, Berlin.

Beyond the unfortunate cancellation of career and extracurricular opportunities, hundreds of thousands of high school athletes across the country suffered a dramatic loss as competitions were canceled. Junior Alexa Cango Ruiz herself faced this issue as a competitive equestrian who has been competing in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) since middle school. 

“I am incredibly grateful to have been able to participate in my sport and spend precious (social-distanced) time with my friends — who happen to double as my teammates,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz was able to compete with her equine partner, Berlin, around the Bay. Despite the initial setbacks, Ruiz was able to work through the difficult few months. 

Once the pandemic hit, the riders were not allowed to see one another or visit their horses. But in late June, riders were informed that although the IEA had been canceled, they would be allowed to compete in horse shows. 

COVID-19 led many people to reconsider their summer plans. Many students were disappointed to find their internships and competitions canceled. Despite this, CVHS students were able to stay positive and motivated throughout the difficult times and make the best of their summer. 

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