MATTHEWS, N.C. — Kids experienced a major disruption to their lives during the pandemic.
Schools shut down, and many students didn’t see their friends in person for months. Several health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, have warned the mental health impacts of the shutdown will be felt for years.
August Warren and Morgan Tuttle, two seniors at Levine Middle College High School in Matthews, are known as the dynamic duo. They met during the pandemic with a lot on their plates.
"I work 20 hours a week outside of this, I run four or five clubs, there's a lot going on. And it takes a lot to do that," said Warren.
While taking classes, the pair were also getting their Associate's degrees.
"I started the second semester of my junior year, which is why I had to pack on the 17 classes," said Tuttle, a senior at Levine Middle College High School.
Like other students, the two have tried to balance school, their social life, and their mental health.
"I have classmates who have lost their parents this year," Warren said. "I have classmates who are the financial income of their family like they're the only one bringing in money. And we have persevered. And that is so amazing to me."
The two took on the responsibility of validating their classmate’s experiences, one activity at a time.
"At the end of last year, we actually did something very small for mental health awareness. The Black Student Union led, they gave out little bags at the end of exams, and they basically had little notes of encouragement," Warren said.
They also held food drives, gave out food in the hallways, and had mini-festivals.
It was a time to stop thinking about COVID-19 and enjoy high school.
"I don't want that to be known for my high school experience," Tuttle said. "But it is, and I can't change that. But I tried to do events that are like outside. So no masks or social distancing."
When their classmates walk across the graduation stage, the dynamic duo hopes they choose to remember the good parts of high school rather than focusing on the bad.
Contact Shamarria Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.