Wilson's ACT cancellation letter. COURTESY CARLY WILSON

Fears for the future


Local Big Sky teens and college students are wearing their masks to protect others from Covid but say their fears are less of infection than for how this pandemic will impact their immediate and long-term future.

It is perhaps no surprise that most students' fears are focused elsewhere than actual illness. The Center For Disease Control statistics show that only 2% of people under 18 have contracted the virus and The Washington Post found that those who are younger than 25 only account for less than 200 COVID-19 deaths. But just because the young rarely have complications from the virus doesn’t mean they have been spared the upheaval that it has caused.

This is true especially when it comes to applying to and attending college, a time that is already confusing and nervewracking to navigate.

For students entering their senior year the college application process has become even more difficult as several ACT and SAT tests have been canceled. Sara Wilson has studied twice for tests that haven’t happened. “My ACT test has been canceled twice now. I know some of my friends are really affected by it but thankfully the colleges I am looking at are test optional.” Wilson says Covid has also “impacted my ability to tour colleges which makes me less confident on where I want to go. I have done some virtual tours but it is definitely not the same.”

Ivy Hicks is equally concerned about what comes before college: missing out on classic senior year memories. “As this is my last year at Lone Peak I am scared that I am going to miss out on school sports, homecoming, school dances, and other school traditions. I am also afraid of missing out on spending time with my friends since this could be the last time I see some of them.”

Ivy recognizes that her senior year concerns are minor, however. “Right now my major concern regarding COVID-19 is when there will be a proper treatment and/or a vaccine. I don't think this will go away any time soon unless we are able to produce a vaccine. I also am concerned about how this situation is affecting people's lives, their financial and social situations.”

While Kassidy Boersma, an incoming junior at LPHS isn’t worried about the virus actually hurting her but admitted other fears: “I just don’t want to spread it to other people.” This, along with the uncertainty the virus has caused about the future, was a dominant concern among most youth. Astrid McGuire, an incoming freshman at LPHS said her major fears were for her, “friends and family, getting sick, and how it’s going to progress. I guess because it is so unpredictable.”

This year’s high school grads are also facing the unknown. Madi Rager, a 2020 graduate from LPHS, is setting off confidently for her first year of college because she says her school is making the appropriate accommodations to allow students to return feeling safe. “Boston University is doing what they called Learn From Anywhere (LFA), where students will have the option to come to campus or stay home and attend classes remotely.” Rager will be on campus and will experience a hybrid program, where any class over 50 that can’t be social distanced will be broken into three groups and alternate between in-class and remote class, switched every week. For socialization, “Families” will be made in dorm areas with people who can freely socialize without the need to social distance. Rager also takes comfort in the fact that BU is a major research university, and will have frequent state of the art testing.

Other college students are facing different realities. Ava King, a LPHS 2019 graduate, completed her first year at Yale University at home when spring break became permanent in March, and like all other Yale Sophomores, has not been given the option to return to college in the fall. “I am most likely taking a semester off in the fall, and possibly the full year depending on how things play out in the next few months. For me, the decision ultimately came down to the fact that I'd have to take all of my classes online, which I've found is a difficult learning environment for me. I wouldn't have access to any extracurriculars, social events, or even the campus for the entire semester. I decided that I'd much rather spend the semester doing something valuable and wait to return to campus until I can take classes in person.”

With so much fear in the air for young people, counsellors are already busy and expect to get busier. LPHS counsellor Abby Wright is willing to meet with students via google meet or in an open door policy setting. Also if there are groups who would like to talk to her about specific areas of concern, she is willing to address students in small groups or classes. She is aware that students are being affected by lack of college testing and says this is why so many colleges are becoming test optional. She believes there will most likely be more ACT and SAT tests available in September and October.

There are still many unknowns concerning schools this fall, but students will have the resilience to keep moving forward. Avery Dickerson an oncoming sophomore at LPHS said, “I feel like it is forcing me to grow up faster. I’ve learned a lot more accountability.” After going through this students may learn important life lessons that will change their future for the better.

Carly Wilson is the Lone Peak Lookout’s Student Reporter. Born and raised in Big Sky, Carly will be a Junior at LPHS in the fall. The Lookout’s Student Reporter position is a Big Sky Youth Corps’ funded placement.

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