Glencliff High School students release book about their pandemic experiences

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Posted at 10:07 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 23:49:35-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Like every way of life that the pandemic has touched, the way students have learned has drastically changed over the past year, with some students still learning remotely.

Students at Glencliff High School have worked on a special project to memorialize the year, and how it changed them.

Harold Burdette works with GEAR UP in Metro Public Schools, a program that aims to get kids ready for college. He says at the start of the pandemic, students -- especially incoming freshmen -- were robbed of the opportunity to build a community in their new school.

"How do you build a community in a place, if you can't be in that place with other people?" Burdette said.

So he and his colleagues at Glencliff decided to have their students work on submissions to a compilation of stories, artwork and poems, describing how the pandemic has impacted their lives and how they learn.

The resulting work, "The Quarantine Diaries of Glencliff High School," was released to students on Tuesday.

"This was the year that everything was going to be perfect, little did we know 2020 wasn't our year," wrote 15-year-old Yasmin Castillo.

"It's so cold here lately, a winter of 14 months," wrote 15-year-old Shelby Lewis.

But through the challenges of the pandemic, the students say they learned a lot about themselves.

"I've learned that I can do a lot more than I think I can do, which is nice," Lewis said.

"That's the first time I've ever been in a book, so I'm proud of myself," said 14-year-old Brandon Navarro.

And the students say the project brought them together in the community that they thought they'd miss out on.

"We get to connect with these pieces," Castillo said.

"I was finally able to at least see how I wasn't going through everything alone," said 15-year-old Karen Lopez Hernandez.

They are lessons that GEAR UP says will serve these students well now that they've returned to the classroom. But they hope the lessons will serve them even better once they graduate and leave the school halls again -- this time for good.