Students take advantage of COVID-19 free time

With school moved online due to COVID-19, most of us are using our extra free time to sleep in, catch up on Netflix, and just relax in general. Some Trevians, though, have taken advantage of the extra time  putting their creative energies to good use, working on improving a skill, or picking up a new hobby.

Junior Lilia Rose Osborne is one such student. Since school was canceled last week, Osborne has been putting in a lot of work on her novel, something she had long hoped to find time for. 

“I’ve been planning [the book] since December, so I just started the first draft,” she said. “I’m trying to begin it. This has allowed me time to sort of be able to finally be like, okay, we’re going to start.” 

According to Osborne, some extra time off was just what she needed to get her creative juices flowing. 

For Sophomore Allie Weis this time off has been the perfect opportunity to work on improving her sign language skills for ELS club, where she communicates with students who have hearing disabilities. 

“I’ve been learning throughout the year with the students,” said Weis. “Because I haven’t been able to be in a classroom because of our break, I have been watching videos of teachers teaching sign language, just to make sure that I’m still learning.” 

Weis’s ultimate goal has always been to reach a high level of sign language proficiency, and having extra free time has put her much closer to that goal. 

“I want to be at the point where I can be able to communicate with a student without having a difficulty of not knowing how to say a word and just be able to make our communication easier by just learning as much as I can,” said Weis. 

Junior Olivia Bhote decided that this is the perfect time to learn Italian. 

“There are older people who are Italian who have offered to help me, so I’ll sometimes talk with them over the phone and they’ll give me some lessons,” said Bhote. “I’m also looking into Duolingo, which is that language app. I’ve been practicing some Italian lessons on there.”

Bhote had no previous experience with the Italian language. She had just always loved Spanish class and simply decided that learning another language could be an interesting way to pass the time. 

Using extra free time created by the COVID-19 pandemic to work on personal or creative goals is by no means unique to New Trier students. People across the world are doing some really cool things right now. 

Take for example Cole Bennett, the founder of the popular multimedia company Lyrical Lemonade. On Mar. 16, Bennett tweeted “im actually excited to be stuck inside.. time to lock in fr.” 

What New Trier students and people like Bennett across the world right now are doing is part of a centuries long tradition of putting sickness-induced quarantine to good use. 

In fact, when the plague struck England in the early 1600s, Shakespeare used his own quarantines to get work done. He wrote several of his most famous plays, including King Lear, while he was in quarantine. 

Osborne noted some of the parallels between how she and other New Trier students are using their Covid-19 free time to accomplish personal or creative goals and how Shakespeare used his plague quarantines.

“I definitely think this is making it much more so that I can get work done,” she said. “But, I also feel like as a writer I have been thinking about this whole experience and kind of feeling like I want to write a story about it. I feel like the emotions and experience of going through a pandemic is something that I feel you can write from.

Just as the plague spurred creativity and reflection in the past, COVID-19  may be doing the same today. Though no one would ever wish for a pandemic, the bright side to this all  is that people have more time to dedicate to their personal and creative lives.  

Watching Netflix is great, but, once that gets old, exploring a personal interest could also be a great use of new free time. According to Osborne, the hardest part is just getting started—Once you get going, there is so much you can do. 

“I think the beginning [of writing a novel] is the most difficult part,” said Osborne. “I think once you have a foundation and you start going, it gets so much easier.”