‘Sharing this common experience with my peers taught me that I am not alone.’

A young woman with long black wavy hair and a white shirt smiling for a portrait.
(Photograph by Trevor Jackson / For The Times, Los Angeles Times photo illustration)

Valeria Luquin, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School


When I found out that LAUSD students would be returning to campus, I was filled with joy. As an incoming senior, I was grateful to be spending my final year in person with my friends, classmates and teachers.

As a student journalist, I have been following and reporting on the pandemic since my sophomore year. Still, upon returning to campus, it felt weird being at school again. Before this year, the last time I had been fully at school was the second semester of my sophomore year. When cases first began to spike, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be my last time on campus.

With graduation quickly approaching, I am relieved to have experienced in-person learning all year. Still, there are many obstacles that had to be overcome.

As I worked on my college applications, my family and I got COVID-19. The stress and demanding workload from AP classes and extracurriculars caused me to burn out on multiple occasions. While these experiences led to my mental health taking a hit, the daily car rides with my friends, drives to get coffee after school and social interactions with my classmates lifted my spirits.


Being a high school student during the pandemic has not been easy, but I would like to emphasize that sharing this common experience with my peers taught me that I am not alone, and to always be in the present.