By Alyssa Roth, Student
These are trying times. There’s no questioning that. Things are changing more rapidly than we even believed to be possible. Masks have become a necessary evil, people are divided over politics and social issues, but most importantly, the future is up in the air, and there are so many questions that are left unanswered. Yet in this time of change and division there are things that do remain the same, and some change has even been for the better.
My world turned upside down on March 17th. That was the day we found out school was closed. I was honestly kind of excited. It’s like an extended spring break, we’ll be back in no time, I thought. What I didn’t see was that it would get so much worse before it got better, and about 9 months later we would still be sheltering in place.
After summer vacation my family made the decision to go completely virtual and learn from home for my Sophomore year. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I was in between friends and had just started fitting in, which is saying something as I had been with the same kids since 6th grade. I missed my friends and I missed the teachers. I missed everything. I received daily emails from the school, telling me what I was missing, whether it was club activities, spirit week, an outdoor movie, and so much more. I didn’t find joy in learning anymore, and I fell behind in my classes.
Then I had an epiphany. When I go back to school, I don’t want my grades holding me back from doing things I love. So I started working harder. I worked for hours and put all my energy into loving my classes and learning new and interesting things. Even the classes I don’t like, I still powered through with the promise that they will benefit me in the future. As of this moment I am almost done with all my classes for the semester.
Working hard in my classes has been fantastic. It’s given me opportunities I never expected. I have the freedom to explore my interests and try new things. I’ve cooked, I’ve started learning a new language, I’ve written stories, I’ve even picked up a guitar for the first time in years and played until my fingers were raw. It’s an amazing feeling, being able to try so many things I’ve always wanted to do.
Another thing quarantine has made me notice is how hard my mom works. She’s always either been at home or worked part time, and just from what I saw before quarantine all she did was household chores. When we started learning from home I saw the other side of the story. She had meetings with the police and fire commission, the school board, and even WATG. She worked (and still works) so hard to make Altoona a better place for everyone. “I don’t know if I can change the world, but I do know I can make my tiny corner of it a better place,” she always says. And she really has. She advocated for me to get the classes I need, she advocates at a state and national level for kids like me to get the education they deserve, and through all that she still manages to put dishes in the dishwasher and fold blankets and let the dog out.
This quarantine has been hard for her too. When this all started she was supposed to go to Washington D.C. to talk with legislators about gifted education. Unfortunately her trip got cancelled. Some things have remained the same though; even though it’s completely virtual she’s still meeting with senators and representatives, trying to get the resources we gifted kids need. She still attended the annual WATG conference, (virtually of course), despite technology issues and complications. She’s still advocating for me and for everyone, and now more than ever she’s taking care of my family when we need it the most.
Of course many bad things have happened this year, but as a new budget cycle approaches, my mom and everyone in WATG is working harder than ever to ensure success in obtaining resources and funding for gifted students. It does not go unnoticed, and I’m pretty sure I speak for all gifted kids when I say thank you all for your hard work. Even if you’ve only done something seemingly small and insignificant, it’s a step forward. Plus, as my personal hero says, “I don’t know if I can change the world, but I do know I can make my tiny corner of it a better place.”
Post Script by Hillarie Roth, WATG President-Elect:
As Alyssa stated, there have been many changes this year, but WATG continues working tirelessly to advocate for gifted individuals everywhere. Please stay connected with us as we move into a new budget cycle for Wisconsin, choose a new State Superintendent in the spring election, and navigate equity issues in gifted education. Change is always happening, let’s work hard to make it a change for the better!
Student and Parent Voices
Hear from and about gifted and talented students and parents across the state Wisconsin.