How Awty Juniors are Facing the Coronavirus Pandemic
Although juniors at Awty are worrying about the unclear future regarding college admissions amidst the coronavirus crisis, they continue to keep themselves productive and optimistic during these hard times. Personally, I have picked up new hobbies such as stitching, journal writing and working out. Additionally, as the founder of the Power of Music club, which performs monthly at senior homes, I have found an alternative for continuing to serve and volunteer for the senior home community. I worked hard to produce a compilation of our regular musical performances and asked my team members to send clips of them introducing themselves and wishing the seniors well. I sought out senior homes who then showed the video to their residents.
Making and sending this touching video has helped the seniors to enjoy some entertainment and stay positive. It has also helped our club members to continue their acts of compassion from a distance. Apart from my personal experience, many other Awty juniors are also making their individual impacts in different ways.
Jean-Luc Shimizu, a talented trumpeter with a passion for jazz, is heavily involved in various music groups in school such as jazz ensemble and the Power of Music club. He also auditions for regional and state competitions throughout the year. His dedication towards music has not faltered one bit during this quarantine period. Although he can continue to take trumpet lessons online, he still misses the feeling of “jamming together.” Jazz is often characterized as an informal conversation between musicians who build off one another and improvise as they go. He explains that for musicians, “playing along with other musicians and hearing their ideas is important.”
Although there are no more performance opportunities for Jean-Luc, he says the abundant amount of extra time has allowed him to practice more and “develop more maturity as a jazz musician.” While stuck inside, he has taken great strides to document his progress through recordings methodically, which he shares on his newly created Instagram, @jazz_juc.
Jean-Luc details the benefits of arranging pieces and recording himself playing them: “It’s a good way to keep track of the development of your musical ideas, the concept of harmony, and phrasing.” He shares that he has always wanted to start the page, and with the extra time now, “the opportunity was just waiting to be taken.” Jean-Luc has found inspiration from music accounts in the jazz community and felt it was time to give back and add his experiences. Contrary to popular belief that engaging in these activities takes away from practice time, “it does quite the opposite and forces yourself to improve, so it is a win-win situation.”
He has also engaged in other opportunities to spread his music such as performing for teachers, parents, and students in a schoolwide Zoom meeting. Overall, it is clear that this quarantine period caused by the coronavirus pandemic has not been entirely unpleasant for Jean-Luc as he continues to progress musically.
Marcella Stones, a talented vocalist and cellist, has also made her own impact during these challenging times. Marcella also founded the Days for Girls chapter at Awty. Days for Girls is an international organization through which “people make menstrual kits for girls on their menstrual cycles without access to products.” Despite the halt of most club activities because of the switch to remote learning, Marcella has decided to keep her momentum. Days for Girls recently announced their initiative called “Masks for Millions” to distribute masks to hospitals and clinics worldwide.
With just a sewing machine, fabric, and ribbons, Marcella and her family have managed to join in on this initiative and help the world combat the Coronavirus crisis. These little actions prove to go a long way. The colorful and decorated masks represent the light of people’s acts of service despite the darkness of the coronavirus.
Katina Proestakis has also stayed extremely productive and positive during these times. Katina is an accomplished fencer who enjoys creating art and playing with her dog in her free time. She is often seen in different countries around the world such as Egypt and Chile, participating in and winning fencing competitions with her team. Her current international rank is 13th and, before going into quarantine, her goal was to make it to the top ten by performing well at the Junior World Championships - “the most important tournament of the year.” The current circumstances have forced her to change her goals to just “keep training and maintaining her levels” as much as she can.
Although all competitions in the foreseeable future have been canceled, Katina’s rigorous athletic schedule has not ceased during quarantine as she continues to both physically and mentally push herself to hone her skills and athleticism at home. She follows her coach’s workout program that only requires basic equipment and she attends her club’s hour-long Zoom meetings that focus on “fitness circuits or footwork.” With extra time and a lack of professional equipment, Katina has taken the initiative to focus on other important details of her fencing performance. These aspects include strengthening the “mental toughness part of the game” as well as watching videos of previous performances to “identify the mistakes and correct them.”
Katina, along with all of the athletes whose seasons have been cut short this year, is taking great strides to further her athleticism and mental toughness. As her close friend, I cannot wait to see her make Awty proud when she ascends the world rankings and becomes the champion she was born to be!
Although Awty had to make the quick and unexpected switch to remote learning, the students have embraced the change with ease and have taken advantage of the extra free time to work on their individual goals and talents. The way students responded to these trying times is just a further demonstration of how Awty’s persevering and compassionate spirit always prevails.
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