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As 2020 was unceremoniously booted into the history books this past week, it’s been interesting to read reflections on social media about how this past year has redirected our lives in so many different ways. On one of our fishing trips over the holiday break, my son Brandyn asked if I might be interested in reading some interesting reflections of 2020 as seen through the eyes of some 17-year-old high school students. Brandyn teaches English for Weber County School District and was impressed enough with the responses from his classes that he asked if I might share some of their thoughts.

The writing prompt Brandyn gave his students was to reflect on the year 2020 and respond to the words “I wish.” Having recovered from the coronavirus himself, Brandyn, his wife Lauren and their two children have their own unique perspective on life before and after COVID. Here’s how Brandyn himself responded to the prompt: “I wish that I would spend less time with work, checking emails and worrying about things I cannot change and essays that I can’t find the time to grade. I wish to spend more time with my children and that they’ll grow up understanding the difference between a tool, and being used like one.”

His students expressed their feelings about this past year and the year to come just as poignantly:

• I wish for more Christmas spirit and excitement towards the special day to be brought into my family. Yes, there is still happiness within everyone but it’s not the special butterfly feeling that it used to be, there’s no milk and cookies being set out, carrots for the reindeer, waiting up to try and catch a glimpse of Santa, countdowns to the twenty-fifth and big stacks of presents under the tree at five in the morning. All I hope for is that in the future new traditions will be brought into my family.

• I wish for things to go back to normal, what I mean is normal in a sense of not worrying about whether or not I have a mask when I leave my house or not worrying about wearing a mask at school, a place that used to be a fun, safe environment.

• I wish that Covid-19 will be gone, it has ruined so many things, mental health, weekends, holidays and education. On social media something that has been going around a lot is this quote “ I’m slowly going back to that dark place I fought so hard to get out of.” I blame the coronavirus for making this so relatable for teenagers.

• I wish for snow. I think winter is my most favorite season because I can snowmobile, snowboard, ice fish and hunt all in one season. Without snow, none of these things are possible.

• I wish that it would become easier at home, that the halls of my house would be filled with laughter and joy instead of argument and gnashing of teeth.

• I wish for someone close, my life has followed a pattern of moving, making friends, getting into a groove and then moving again. I don’t have anyone in my life I’d consider a best friend, I’ve never had a girlfriend. All I want is someone I can show my heart to, lean on and laugh with, that’s my wish.

• I wish the virus gone with the new vaccine so we can return to life as usual and I hope there are no bad side effects with the vaccine. I also hope donations that were contributed by the school go to a great cause and the recipients of the donations have a Merry Christmas.

• I wish to become happier, my goal is to go the entire break without wasting time on social media and YouTube.

• I wish things could be like the soldiers who were fighting during World War I who ceased fighting on Christmas, put away their differences and found joy in a time that was hard to find and just loved each other.

• I just want Corona to go away, this virus has shaken up our lives in ways I never could have imagined. A year ago I would have never thought I would be taking my English 11 class through a computer screen.

• This holiday season I wish for less judgement. If everyone listened to one another, heard their stories and why they act the way they do, I believe we could make our world a much more beautiful place.

• I wish to be free, covid has imprisoned us. We are adapting but how much more of this can we take?

• I wish my family to be happy, not the kind of happy you pretend to be around others, but genuinely happy. I wish my nieces and nephews will learn it’s nice to give and not just receive things. I wish to be the reason someone smiles.

• I wish my mom would start being a mom and treat people with respect. I wish she’d stop spending all her money on beer and cigarettes so she can be healthy and not die so young. I want to see her nice and loving for once.

In regards to wishes, I have a friend who once told me, “If wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a happy Christmas.” Well, I’m still going to wish that all the wishes above come true and for a better, happier, peaceful 2021.

Chad Hawkes is a fifth grade teacher at North Park Elementary School. He can be reached by email at chad.hawkes@ccsdut.org

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