The Return to School Amidst a Global Pandemic by Bryan Sandahl

NCA’s students share their thoughts on the new academic school year

2020. What a year it has been so far! This year has been defined as a year of unexpected events that have impacted not only Nicaragua but everyone worldwide. This year will definitely be one that will be talked about for many, many years to come. While this year may have not gone the way anyone predicted, we have managed to make the most out of our current situation. For example, we have had the wonderful opportunity to have physical-presence school!

We can all admit that school has not been the same. Precautions and safety measures have had to be put in place in order to protect us from the COVID-19 virus, the culprit to our strange and life-changing year. Our social interactions, our schedules, the way we thought school was supposed to be, changed drastically from one year to another. We have not been able to see all of our friends due to the virus, whether from being forced to leave the country or just deciding that staying at home would be safer. Many teachers have not had the opportunity to come back to Nicaragua, and as a student body, we sure have missed our teachers. 

Regarding our new school year, our fellow classmates and teachers have been willing to share their thoughts and ideas!  

Kaleb Doutt – 12th Grade

How has the school year been different from other years? 

This school year is playing out like the end of a zombie apocalypse movie in which survivors are finally integrating themselves back into society and discovering who didn’t make it—the long-distance learners. This awfully does seem to be the case when teachers or students finally get tickets to return to Nicaragua, and we rumor about it for a few days until their quarantining is over and they finally do come to school and are reunited in celebration yet segregation. 

While the school year has been very different from other years, what are some positive things that may come out from this new school year, whether short term or long term?

I am a fan of the mini-chapels in homeroom and hope that they are here to stay. Also, the whole atmosphere that is grateful for being at school is a lot better than the dreadful one we had before, where we did not find joy in attending school. Hopefully, that one sticks, so as to savor what the quarantine taught us.

What would you tell the part of the student body that feels discouraged by the events taking place around the world and our school?

 To any discouraged students: do not be discouraged. You have a heavier yoke than what you were made to carry. Jesus offered a much more suitable one as it gives us hope that is independent of all circumstances because it relies solely on the inevitable reality that Jesus is coming back to judge and to redeem.

How have you seen God working through our current situation?

 Because all things are working for the preparation of His return, our current situation is entirely intentional and of much use to our preparation. There is most certainly a stronger and more relevant sense of unity that courses through the Body of Christ and radiates a conscious need for every member. This is purposeful and exactly aligned with the plan that God had for us.

Cohen Boone- 9th Grade

How has the school year been different from other years? 

 I think I can honestly say that school hasn’t changed much at all. Haha, I’m kidding, school has been very different this year. If you know me well then you know that I’m not a very big fan of a lot of the new changes in the school, but I’m honestly not sure if anyone is. Masks are one of the bigger changes this year. Wearing a mask all the time is hard, especially in a climate like ours. So one thing that I’m glad NCA permitted was that we can take them off in class, which makes it a lot more bearable. Another change this year is the procedures for entering the school. In the past, it was a quick drop off and walk to your class. Now we have to get checked at home, at school, and wash our hands before entering. 

While the school year has been very different from other years, what are some positive things that may come out from this new school year, whether short term or long term?

 Positive things come out of a pandemic? What?! It may be pretty hard to find positivity at the moment, but there is always something good coming out of the darkness. One thing has been the fingerprint scanners. The timing was impeccable for having them installed, as they definitely help control who enters our campus and when. Another thing I was thinking of the other day was how because of COVID-19, students that were going to miss school because of the virus anyway can still do school online and be part of our school. In addition to them, NCA students who were going to be missing this semester anyway because they were going to be in the States, like the Langs, can still participate and be a part of the school from afar. I think that is definitely a positive, shoutout to Drew and Ben. 

What would you tell the part of the student body that feels discouraged by the events taking place around the world and our school?

Coronavirus has been tough, everyone is sick of masks, alcohol, and even hearing about COVID-19. But always remember what Jesus said:

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

Gabriel Gómez- 11th grade

How has the school year been different from other years? 

This school year has been very different from others, because of all the precautions the school has taken in order to keep the student body safe. The school days are shorter, limited after-school activities, and no elective classes. It has also been very different for teachers; they have to do everything twice but for different reasons (doing double the work for in-person school and online school). Also, the way we go about our way throughout the day is very different. Generally, this school year is very different mostly because of all the changes the school had to adjust to because of the situation we are living in today.

While the school year has been very different from other years, what are some positive things that may come out from this new school year, whether short term or long term?

A long term helpful change is that the school is now ready for any situations that prevent students from going to school so that the school can still provide the education we need. 

What would you tell the part of the student body that feels discouraged by the events taking place around the world and our school?

It is a hard situation, difficult, and very unique. It can be stressful and depressing, but to those feeling discouraged, I say that you aren’t the only one going through this situation. The whole world is living in this new reality. If you feel stressed or discouraged, try to talk to other people, through social media, or calls. As social creatures, it is important for us to stay in contact with friends, especially through trying times.

Nathaly Guzmán- 12th Grade

How has the school year been different from other years? 

As the treasurer of the senior class, the council and I were very excited about the new school year. We had so many fun activities and ideas that were cancelled due to the pandemic. Coming back to school and following all the safety measures it felt very different. As seniors, we are trying to enjoy this last school year and we are waiting to play the tape game. Not seeing many familiar faces was very different and being the oldest feels very strange. However, I am very thankful that most of our class is back and that we were able to wear our shirts. 

While the school year has been very different from other years, what are some positive things that may come out from this new school year, whether short term or long term?

 This new school year has taught us how important it is to appreciate our time with our friends and family, as well as the activities that we sometimes take for granted such as going to school and playing soccer intramurals. I believe this taught us all a valuable lesson and may change the way we appreciate how we spend our time together in the future when the pandemic is gone.

What would you tell the part of the student body that feels discouraged by the events taking place around the world and our school?

This Bible verse brings strength in the times when we need to hear encouraging words. Throughout my life, I have learned that God is in control over everything and I shouldn’t worry because his plans are perfect. Eventually, we are going to be able to do many fun activities and have a great time with our friends. We just need to be patient and trust in the Lord. 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10 

While we have had to adapt to our new school environment, we have been blessed to have the opportunity to go to school. Many schools around the world cannot gather and receive classes the traditional way. God has promised to always be with us, through our triumphs and through our moments of darkness. Together as the body of Christ, we can overcome the challenges that have been placed before us. God has been good to us, and we must never forget to give Him thanks for everything He has done and will continue to do for us. Keep your heads up NCA! As our fellow classmate said concerning the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 (NIV)

Special thanks to Kaleb Doutt, Cohen Boone, Gabriel Gómez, and Nathaly Guzmán for participating in the interview, and taking time out of your day to answer these questions.