Pioneer students excited by opened opportunities after being vaccinated

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The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out has created hope for a transition back to normality for Pioneer students. 

Pioneer sophomore Sophie Maine has put her normal life on pause for the COVID-19 pandemic, and is excited to finally press play. “I’ve missed a lot trying to keep myself and my family safe this year,” said Maine, “I am very excited to start catching up on the things I’ve missed once I am fully vaccinated.”

Since the first COVID-19 lockdown 14 months ago, many students have missed out on all social aspects of their high school years. They were forced to adapt to virtual learning, virtual events, and, the most difficult for many, not being able to see their friends and family in person.  Even in a new age of isolation, students found it critical to stay connected, despite the difficulties. “I think the hardest part of this experience for me has been figuring out a way to communicate with people virtually,” said Maine. “It can be hard to understand people, or convey what I’m thinking without physically talking to someone and being able to gauge the conversation.”

For many student athletes, sports seasons were another great loss from the pandemic. “The hardest part of the Covid experience for me was probably the basketball season,” said sophomore Dylan Pacernick. “We were shut down for a week and a half to start and end our season, in addition to an already shortened season.”

Nevertheless, students were able to find ways to adapt to the new situation, and finding new ways to connect with friends and family became a positive aspect of the pandemic for many students. “This year, I have tried to get outside and play a lot of sports safely with friends to try and make things easier,” said Pacernick, “I’ve also started going on walks with my sister, which is a good way for us to spend time together.” 

Some students took action to stay connected not only for themselves, but for others. “This year, I’ve devoted myself to helping form connections for those completely shut off from others due to the pandemic by being a middle school leader at my church,” said sophomore Katie Ristich. “Throughout Covid my church kept me strong and connected to the people around me.”

While many were able to adapt to the unpredictable pandemic life, it’s not something they’re going to miss. Students ages 16 and up have been eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in Michigan since the beginning of April, and for Dylan Pacernick, and many others, there was no hesitation to receive the first dose.“I already had my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine on April 4th, and I am receiving my second shot Sunday, April 25th at Ford Field.” He said.

To many, the best part of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is something as simple as being able to safely spend time with loved ones. “After getting vaccinated, I am most excited to see my friends and family members I haven’t been able to see since COVID began,” said Maine. 

For others, getting back to indoor activities and eating establishments, which were restricted during the pandemic, is high on the list. “Once I’m fully vaccinated, I can’t wait to start eating inside at restaurants and going to movies again,” said Pacernick. 

Although the vaccine does not guarantee 100% immunity to the virus, it brings a sense of security for participation in everyday activities that have recently caused worry and fear of virus contraction. “Once I am fully vaccinated, it will definitely be nice to not have to worry as much when I’m hanging out with friends, during practice, and when I’m in public, ” said Pacernick. 

Overall, the excitement level for the COVID-19 vaccine for students – both at Pioneer and across the country — is high. For many, there’s an abundance of hope that the vaccine will bring life back to normal, and they can’t wait for it to start. “I have a lot of trust in the COVID vaccine and I could not be more excited to receive it,” said Maine.