Recently LEAP high-school student Jeison sat down with Teen Center Coordinator Vicki Tzortzis to talk about school, life, and LEAP during the pandemic. Their insightful q-and-a follows.
VICKI: How many years have you been coming to LEAP?
JEISON: I came to LEAP before it was LEAP. I started coming to LEAP officially when I was a freshman, but LEAP has been a part of my life since the fifth grade, a year after I came to this country. I went to Cyberspace with my cousins and my brother. When I was there I would use the computer and do activities like play games and talk with my peers. Then I joined Expanding Horizons. I want to be a part of LEAP when I am in college, too.
VICKI: What does a school day look like this fall?
JEISON: Would you even call it school? You log in on the computer, you watch the class, and stare at the computer. After 30/40 minutes, people start to zone out. It is hard to pay attention because it is not engaging. There are some classes that I actually like, like science, because the teacher plans activities and games that make you pay attention. Sometimes she lets you get extra credit. She doesn’t make you use your camera, but people usually want to turn it on so they can actively participate. Some of the classes are weird, like gym. You can’t really go to gym on Zoom, and a lot of the classes turn into writing assignments. This year is different because there isn’t really “late” work. As long as it gets turned in at some point, you get full credit. I feel like this causes laziness, but that’s OK…
VICKI: How has COVID changed your day?
JEISON: I stay home every day instead of going outside. I actually use things like electronics and video games less now. I have new hobbies now. For example, I started redecorating my room. I have LED lights now. These days I get up at 5 a.m., do some homework, go to my first class, then wake up my brother and make sure he goes to work. After second period I will make my lunch, check on my nephew, and then do the rest of the classes. I really like the classes with breakout rooms because we get a chance to talk and it is more comfortable than being in a big group. Before, I would go to school and then see my friends at LEAP after. I don’t talk to as many people now. For example, there are a lot of people that I only talked to in school, and now I don’t really connect with them.
VICKI: What are you participating in at LEAP this fall?
JEISON: The 84, Brothers for Success, Farm School, Social Justice Initiative, and Writing Club. I rejoined the groups I was in last year because the programs became a habit in my life.
VICKI: What are you excited about this school year?
JEISON: I am excited for more in-person things…I hope they happen. One of them is Project Adventure. There are lots of senior field trips like zip lining, going to the woods, and a canoe trip. I really just want to be back in-person. I am also excited for the Brothers field trips. Every year we do a big field trip somewhere new. I can’t wait for Spirit Week: we do Deck the Halls, collecting cans for those who need food, raise money for an organization, and Pajama Day. It is a competition between grades. I like how competitive it is. I feel like the seniors do the best every year, and I want it to be our turn.
VICKI: What new activities or interests do you have with the changes to school and programs?
JEISON: I have been cooking more. I have learned how to make healthy foods like chicken salads with broccoli. I can also make lasagna by myself now. I have been making updates to my room. For example, I built a new bed and put together a desk that I ordered. I have been going to the gym as well. I do lunges, and I have pull-up and push-up competitions with my friend.
VICKI: What are you looking forward to next summer?
JEISON: I am excited for graduation. I really hope it happens regularly. I am excited to meet new people at whichever college I go to. I think I am going to the DR to visit, which I am looking forward to.
VICKI: What is something you have done this year that you are proud of?
JEISON: *laughs* I changed my bad habit of eating junk food every day. I started eating vegetables for the first time in my life (even though I don’t necessarily like how they taste). I’m a picky eater, so that’s a big deal for me.
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