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Students speak their minds, open their hearts about life in a pandemic

Video captures both fears and inspiration from this year of COVID-19

Rockford — For students living through a pandemic, it’s been a year like no other — crazy, lonely, stressful and, at times, terrifying. But it’s also been an experience from which they will emerge stronger and more determined to achieve their dreams. 

Such were the thoughts of Rockford High School students who this week released a seven-minute video, “My Pandemic.”  Produced by the school’s TV Studio class, better known as Beyond the Rock, the video expresses the heartfelt and painfully honest emotions of 64 students about what this year has been like for them. 

They speak of isolation, lying awake, missing friends and missing out on memory-making experiences. But they also speak of growing closer to their families, no longer taking normal pleasures for granted and learning newfound resilience and patience. Says one student, “I was able to bring light into a dark situation and grow from it in the end.” 

The video was shared on Beyond the Rock’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram account, and also on the Rockford High School website. 

The project grew out of one-minute speeches class members gave as part of a public-speaking assignment, which were then spliced together by teacher Kris DeYoung. He asked them to be honest about their difficulties but also name the unexpected good things that have come from the experience. 

The result was “a sort of time-capsule-type video that they could both keep and we could put together as a collective voice,” DeYoung said.

“They delivered honest and vulnerable messages, were totally real with their hearts and I was SO proud of them,” DeYoung said by email. “Now the feedback and responses I’m getting I am passing along to them — many hearts touched, and a repeated message from others: ‘this is what I needed to hear’ from students, staff, families — or from parents, ‘this is really what my daughter or son needed.’

“It is achieving its purpose — helping others.”

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SNN story: At Beyond the Rock, students learn to love telling stories, and it shows

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers Rockford and Grand Rapids. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio

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