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Student Resilience in the Face of Change

On March 13, 2020, Maryland students were sent home from school, on what they all thought was an “extended spring break”. Now, almost a year has passed. COVID-19 has raged around the world, masks have become a must-have accessory, and most Maryland schools have not welcomed back students on campus in nearly a year. 

On February 8, 2021 five members of the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS) Student Focus Group (SFG) set out to share via Instagram Live their personal experiences and lessons learned in the face of a global pandemic, not having sports, extracurricular activities, and general in-person interaction with teachers and friends for an entire year of their lives. Below you can watch a recording of the Instagram Live via the MCSS YouTube channel. 

After spreading awareness with the community, some SFG members who participated also wanted to reflect on the importance of this message, and why they wanted to share it with the community:

Henry Meiser | St. Mary’s Ryken High School (Saint Mary’s County, MD)

The SFG was charged with sharing “Resilience in the Face of Change,” and I think this is a message that needs to be shared with parents, teachers, and other students on a national, if not global level. During my section of the Instagram Live, I spoke about the changes students have faced adapting to virtual asynchronous learning and virtual synchronous learning. The far turn from normalcy we took, whether it be in the classroom, or outside of it, was tremendous. Yet, the knowledge that we have gained, the skills that we have acquired, and the relationships that we have developed are unparalleled. 

The key word of this live stream was resilience, and I cannot think of a better word to describe students around the world at the moment. While I truly believe that this has been one of the most challenging times our generation has ever faced, I am particularly happy that I had a chance to remind everyone – students, parents, and teachers – that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, that we will come out together, and that we will come out as stronger leaders and students.

Kevin Bokoum  | North Hagerstown High School (Washington County, MD)

Over the course of the past year, many lives of students have been flipped around and tossed around due to the pandemic; however, not every student was affected in the same way. Through being a county Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB), I get to engage with and review so many student concerns, questions, and comments. I eagerly joined the MCSS Instagram Live because I felt I could give my input into the various and specific challenges students faced and ways in which students have adapted during the everchanging pandemic. Even though there are so many specific student populations to talk about, I choose to specifically focus on how ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) students, student athletes, and high achieving students were faced with challenges from distance learning, and how they overcame them. I also discussed how the adaptation to technology served as a learning and outreach tool. I believe the key sentiment that was expressed during our discussion was the importance of reaching out and getting support in any way you can. Even though nobody has experienced this pandemic in exactly the same way, it is so important that we be there for eachother as supporters and friends because doing so can help drastically improve the mental health of our peers. 

Claire Cabral | Hereford High School (Baltimore County, MD)

It has been almost a year since Covid-19 began to touch our lives and create a change so big that many of us had no clue how to deal with what we were facing. As a teenager who depended on her routine and her “normalcy,” I struggled a lot with the transition into a virtual world with limited social interaction. Little did I know, so many people my age were going through the same thing and feeling just as alone as I was. 

As our lives begin to return to normal, we all will struggle again with the transition. But this time, we need to know that we aren’t alone and that there are ways to adjust to change in a healthy way. As a member of the SFG, I was so excited to take part in our “Resilience in the Face of Change” Instagram Live. I wanted to let those watching at home know that they were not alone in their emotions and experiences by sharing my perspective and listening to others. I chose to discuss a way we all can understand our mindset and how we think to combat change in a healthy way. This cycle is called the Resilience Cycle, a multi-step process that walks us through how the human brain confronts change and how we can respond to it.

It is so important for not only students, but also parents, administrators, and teachers to recognize why they and the people around them may be feeling the way that they are. This cycle is a simple but effective way to do so, and I was honored to be able to share this resource with so many. I look forward to continuing to positively influence those around me, and I hope the SFG will have another live stream soon!

Thank you to all the students who participated and those who attended. If you missed the live stream and are interested in viewing, you can watch it all above, and be sure to turn on post notifications on Instagram and Facebook so you do not miss future events! Finally, to read more on the resilience cycle, click here.

Claire Cabral, Kevin Bokoum, and Henry Meiser are members of the MCSS Student Focus Group (SFG). For more information on the Student Focus Group click here.

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