Local Voices: A high school graduate's perspective


Leia-Ann Butler



It took me a good while to figure out how to start this article. Partially because I shouldn't even be writing it. I should be basking in my graduation glory, at Slip and Dip with my friends, not planning my only outing for the week to be Walmart because everything else is closed. I should be getting an outfit together for a date at the fair next week, not figuring out what sweatshirt matches my blue hospital gloves and mask. Crazy, it feels like just yesterday I had a choice if I wanted to go outside or not. For most introverts, this kind of thing is a dream come true. Now most of the world is being forced to stay inside their houses, wilting away like dreams under a magnifying glass.


I asked for many opinions on this subject to help figure out what perspective I was going to write the column in. Many said they were sad about the situation. That's understandable. I could have written about how I miss smiling at random strangers that greet me because they can't see my smile behind my mask. They can't see my zygomatic muscles all coming together to show all 32 of my pearly whites that might make just one person's day a little bit better. I could have talked about how this quarantine and being stuck in the house 24/7 affects those with certain mental illnesses, those who count on human interaction just to push through their day, those who go in public for the sounds to drown out their overbearing thoughts. I could have talked about the fact that thousands of people die every single day. Mothers, fathers, children, grandparents and friends that just pass away in the blink of an eye. I could have touched on the fact that jobs are going down because people can't work for many reasons; fear of bringing the Coronavirus to their families, fear of being a carrier and not knowing, fear of the job they've worked at for several years being shut down, fear that they'll catch it themselves. Or the fact that millions of doctors around the globe are working to help cure families and helping kill the virus and not being able to see their own families, having permanent bruise marks from the masks and gloves and hazmat suits they can never take off, and having fears for their own friends and families that they must put to the side to help others.


Others said they were angry about the Coronavirus and that makes plenty of sense too. I could have talked about how upset I felt when I found out that my last moments of high school could be snatched from me in an instant, when I found out there would be no senior run, no parade to shake kids hands and inspire them to keep working towards their futures, no traditional graduation where I could hug and shake hands with the people I grew up with that I may never see again. I could have talked about the ignorance of the people who think they are "immune" and that the disease is fake and go to stores sick with no masks or gloves around my father, who is high risk because of his stroke and asthma, or me, who is also high risk because of my battle with my severe asthma. The people who think this whole thing is a game and still have parties with more than 20 people and fuss and involve politics in the matter, when who you voted for doesn't have anything to do with being respectful and standing on the X in line at the grocery store. Or those people who are in charge of the safety and welfare of their city or state and are still allowing eat-in restaurants and close-proximity stores (hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, etc.) to open back up without applying the correct precautionary measures, and then everyone is totally surprised when there are 300 new cases within the first week of re-opening. I could talk about the feeling that engulfs me when I realize that the world will never be the same, that a cough will always have an awkward stare following it, that my kids may never know a world without masks and six feet perimeters, that if I had an asthma attack right now, I would have to go to the hospital alone because only patients are allowed in the rooms now. I could talk about the fact that this should be a time for the world to come together unanimously in this pandemic yet racism is currently thriving. I get scared for my little brother every time I see him lose control of his anger, because the wrong day that he does that could mean his life. I get upset when I go on TikTok, the social media platform that took the world by storm when quarantine came through and is supposed to be a safe place for children and teens alike, and there are users with no faces calling people of color racial slurs, there's a blackout movement because the algorithm for the app only focuses on blue eyes and porcelain skin: there are people who can't even post their siblings if they are adopted for the fear of being "canceled." This has always been a problem but why especially now, when everyone needs a kind word, when the virus doesn't have a color chart for its victims. I could talk about the outrage that is everyone thinking toilet paper will save them from a disease that affects the respiratory system.



But I digress. I am a positive person, always have been. So instead I'll talk about how quarantine is bringing families closer together because they get to spend more time with their loved ones. I'll talk about the courage that these doctors and first responders have to do what they do every single day. I'll talk about the fact that the world is a cleaner place now that fossil fuels and pollution is going down thanks to less cars on the road. I'll talk about how the boredom of quarantine has inspired people to get creative and make content or dance or sing or act. I'll talk about how New York had one of its lowest body counts ever last week. I'll talk about the breakthroughs that scientists have made to try to find a cure. I'll talk about how the cleaning services and companies are thriving business-wise because their items are always sold out. And I'll talk about how I will still receive the diploma I worked twelve hard years to get June 27.


Leila-Ann Butler, a resident of Steens, is a 2020 graduate of New Hope High. She will be attending Mississippi University for Women in the fall and majoring in Early Elementary Education.



Leila-Ann Butler is a 2020 graduate of New Hope High. She is from Steens, Mississippi. She is the daughter of Michael and Sharon Butler. She will be attending Mississippi University for Women and majoring in Early Elementary Education.


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