2020 taught me to be comfortable with the unknown and to never take anything for granted. I like knowing what to expect and I like planning, but I quickly learned that during a pandemic, things change suddenly and constantly, and I had to figure out how to be OK with that. From closures to isolating to hunting for toilet paper, 2020 was not what I expected when I welcomed the new year with shouts and cheers last January.

On the day I was told in the middle of gym class to pack up my locker for a few weeks’ closure, I remember thinking about how long six weeks was, and this whole “corona” thing couldn’t possibly last that long. Then when closure was extended, my plans for the school year were disrupted once again. Now, approaching a year from the day school was shut down, I have learned to roll with the punches, so to speak, and to cling to what I know to be constant in my life.

The hardest part of isolating was how much I missed my family. Now, I appreciate any way that I get to spend time with them. My family visited with my grandma, aunt and cousins over Zoom as we cooked dinner. We took turns choosing meals and even themed a few (think pioneer or Disney night), dress-up and all. I would have preferred to see and hug my family in person, but I will cherish those memories of cooking over Zoom.

While I can’t say I’m grateful for 2020, I can say that I’m grateful for the lessons I was able to learn.

— Anabelle Kollman, Eisenhower High School, 10th grade

• • •

Arguably, this year has been one of the most difficult I have endured in my lifetime. It has been a year of loss and sacrifice. With these difficult moments come lessons that I have deeply internalized, especially in the past 10 months.

I have learned to appreciate the smaller moments in life, particularly those that are most easily taken advantage of, as well as the importance of those around me.

I have also gained a deeper understanding of how valuable it is to live with an open mind and a kind heart. All of the events in between have reiterated the significance of gratitude and acceptance in our day-to-day lives.

— Olivia Puente, Sunnyside High School, 12th grade

• • •

One lesson 2020 taught me is to never take anything for granted, especially the little things. I learned that every single minute spent with a loved one is priceless, and that I shouldn’t let anything get in the way of that.

I also learned to take opportunities and risks while I still have the chance to. During this pandemic, I was reminded to be spontaneous and live in the moment.

2020 allowed me to slow down, and take a different outlook on life because you never know what might happen next.

— Ruby Hoeger, West Valley High School, 10th grade

• • •

This year I have certainly been through a lot. This year has given me an insane character arc and taught me plenty of lessons.

But I think the most accurate lesson I learned is how to find joy in every day. It seems like it would be impossible to find happiness in the middle of a lonesome pandemic with little family time while I was fighting a rare and deadly form of cancer. Though that it is true, I saw that things could’ve been worse and that there were good things to come out of it.

First of all, I was in a highly protected environment where there was little chance of getting the virus. I learned to value my friends and family even more than I already did. I also met some wonderful people who are doing so much good for the most vulnerable and hurting in our society. Lastly, I was able to be educated on a serious cancer that most people don’t know about and have found a cause worth fighting for and bringing awareness to.

All of these things couldn’t have happened without what happened in 2020.

— Moira Lindner, Riverside Christian School, 12th grade