A Look Back at a Year of Pandemic, Strife, and Fire

Cape Henry Students Share Ideas and Personal Reactions on 2020

During 2020, several events occurred, such as the earth-shaking pandemic and political strife, making the year a bumpy ride of several ups and downs. This past year may be described as the worst one lived by current generations or more simply: “stressful, annoying, terrible, and sad” as said by Leah Angilly ‘24. So much destruction happened, the year might as well be categorized into its own league. On the other hand, 2020 sparked change and according to Ryanne Robertson ‘24, it was “strengthening… like it made us stronger.” Throughout the year, many seemed paranoid and highly focused on the negative as a result of the pandemic and unpredictable events. Luckily, there were some positive comebacks and new opportunities for the nation by the end of the year.


Given the crazy, chaotic year full of disaster after disaster, it can be difficult to spot the good things that happened throughout the year. When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, it hit hard and impacted everyone worldwide, becoming one of the leading causes of death globally in 2020. As a communicable disease with several unknown variables, the spread of the coronavirus forced schools, sports, and many events to be canceled or postponed for future dates. Sophia Schreiber ‘24 explains, “The pandemic impacted my life the most because it shut down things like school, making it harder to do things through Zoom. It also shut down my dance studio, so I couldn’t see my friends or do what I’m most passionate about.” For many, this also greatly impacted mental health, which Elizabeth Fryer ‘24 mentions, “… it affected the mental state of teenagers drastically, and education is terrible for people at public schools.”


During 2020, the history of sports changed. There were many necessary conditions following CDC restrictions for sporting events to continue at schools and in recreational or professional leagues. In many cases, fans and spectators have been removed from televised events, changing the experience for everyone. For example, Ryanne Roberston stated, “My spring softball season was canceled which [was sad] because I couldn’t do anything at all outside staying home….” Similarly, Mary Turner Shipp ‘24 contributes, “I think that I was bored because I could not watch televised sports. And my recreational sports adapted by only playing outside.” Overall, it was a tough time for all sports leagues as they crammed a regular season’s schedule into a short, condensed one after the bitter postponement and cancelation of earlier games.


In other ways, 2020 was challenging due to political disputes and civil unrest in the United States. During an election year, there was a lot of tension between political parties, inducing controversial movements like the impeachment trial against President Trump, protests, and border control. Ryanne Robertson points out “the hate that came out of it. We became more divided in a time when we needed to unite.”


Around the world, there were also record-breaking natural disasters that occurred, leaving behind several sites of destruction. There were the Australian bushfires, the West Coast wildfires, and many hurricanes and named storms. With sympathy for the inhabitants of Australia, Mary Turner Shipp wishes to erase the “[f]ires because they spread smoke pollution and killed people and children. It [also killed] animals and innocent koalas in Australia.” In addition, other students agreed that natural disasters caused many deaths and much darkness for people, similar to Sophia Schreiber’s description and elaboration of it as “a very interesting year that had many natural disasters as well as many deaths and just sad times. But people learn from those kinds of things, and they think although it was a hard year, it will benefit us in the future.” 


In 2020, there were several misfortunes, and this year, it feels as if too many people were taken away from us. Many well-known professional sports players passed away, such as Kobe Bryant and Maradona. Additionally, there were many deaths of celebrities, such as Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, Pop Smoke, and many others. In reaction to these deaths, Elizabeth Fryer believes “it made society lose hope.” Despite their deaths, their legends will live on, inspiring more people.


In another light, 2020 had some good things in store. Before this year, time was mostly focused on work, work, work, but as a result of the pandemic, people have been able to spend more time with family and focus on building new relationships. Leah Angilly proclaimed, “I joined my first dramaless and non-toxic friend group in a very long time and it was amazing. My new friends are kind and perfect. 2020 wasn’t all bad.” There was also more time to learn new hobbies and how to adapt to working remotely. Relying on technology so much these days could further technological uses in the future in various occupations. There was also an extraordinary rise in the stock market and the unemployment rate after a sharp dip. In some ways, it was a less hectic year than others, because people were stuck at home, working remotely…or not at all. 


In all, the world has learned so much and realized how many things are taken for granted. Now, we marvel at media scenes involving crowded restaurants, concerts, and sporting events. It’s so abnormal that it feels like a faint, forgotten dream. Maybe we will appreciate them more when things (hopefully) return to some sort of normalcy. Nevertheless, it was a significant year in world history and will forever be remembered going forward, possibly reserving a spot in future textbooks. Through all the bad, there was still good, but we are obviously in need of something even better than before.