A Walk Down Memory Lane

Memories of the last days before the lockdown in 2019


Courtesy of Longfellow MS website

Students and teachers remember the days when Longfellow was always full of activity.

2020 has been such a rollercoaster, which is interesting, considering that we can no longer ride rollercoasters. That’s just one of the many lists of activities suspended due to COVID 19.  Before the pandemic swept across the U.S., we got up and went to school like we had always done- none of us had any inkling that this would be our last physical school day for a long while.

On March 13, 2020, Fairfax County Public Schools closed down schools due to COVID-19 concerns for students and teachers. At the time, many students thought that it would blow over soon and we’d get to go back to school, but we soon discovered that was far from the case.

As the days out of school dragged on, everyone processed this information in different ways. Some people were happy that they didn’t have to get up early in the morning, some were sad or angry about not being able to meet their friends, and still, others were frightened as to what could happen next. Most people, though, have strong memories of that last day before everything changed.

“It was a normal Thursday for me, and I had absolutely no idea that school would be canceled,” Daniel C., a seventh grader who was at Haycock Elementary last year.

Dr. Patrick, Longfellow’s current principal, was working at Lake Braddock last year as the After School Coordinator.  He recalls that he and the teachers had started to prepare for a possible lockdown during the last few days of physical school. But despite this, there were still a lot of unknowns.

Before hearing the news, he remembered going to Lake Braddock when the school day was over to watch a softball and lacrosse scrimmage. This was interesting because they had actually canceled sports for the next few weeks, so this was the last game they would watch for a while.

Everyone was excited for spring break to start until they were met with the unexpected news that schools would be closed for the foreseeable future.

“We went into March break having no idea that we wouldn’t be able to come back,” recalled Uma N., a seventh grader coming from Willowdale Middle school in Toronto, Canada.

For nearly four months, we couldn’t see our friends, couldn’t go anywhere without a mask and the fear of the novel coronavirus, and our current seventh graders didn’t even have a graduation party. But as reports of this disease spread throughout the world, not all of us were quite as shocked when we heard. Some students were even prepared for the news.

“I knew that Covid was bound to spread to the US,” said Joy H., an eighth grader at Longfellow.

“I never got to really hang out with my friends (on the last day of physical school) since some of their parents took them out early once they heard about Covid,” Holly R. said about her elementary school, Spring Hill.

Rumors had started to spread about what could come next. Our teachers started to put bottles of hand sanitizer out in every classroom, people would wipe down their desks much more carefully than before, and uncertainty and fear were running high.  In New York, schools were already closing. On social media, COVID 19 was all people were talking about-giving tips on how to stay safe, which masks work the best, and reminding everyone to try and stay home. This was all happening before the official lockdown—in a way, it had already begun.

“To be honest, 2020 as a year has been pretty messed up, but I think we’ll pull through. I have mixed feelings about quarantine, but it’s for the good of everyone,” Angela C., an eighth grader at Longfellow, remarked about the world’s situation.

But it’s important to keep in mind that we are all in this together.

“It’s different, but slowly this will become normal. I don’t think that after this experience, we’ll ever go back to how it used to be, [but] overall, I think that this is interesting and new and that we’ll all adapt,” Uma said.

Principal Patrick feels it’s important to recognize that though this ordeal has been challenging, we have to work with what opportunities we have.

“I think we need to focus on what we can control to make the most of the current situation and adapt. These are all easy things to say, but we’re going to get through this as a Longfellow community—with all of us supporting one another,” Dr. Patrick said.

The world has definitely changed in the past year. This has been one of the most challenging years we’ve ever faced, and more obstacles are sure to come. But it’s a historic time in the world! Everything we’re experiencing right now will be taught to middle schoolers like us in the year 2075. People will want to interview us or ask about what we remember from this unique experience. Let’s hope they don’t have to ask us what roller coasters were, though.