COVID-19 pandemic: the universal experience told through stories from THE SCHOOL community

Brooke Beesley (’22)

To Social Distancing

Oh, how you rose to fame so very quickly.

Now everyone knows your name.

You’re the one that cancelled concerts, closed airports, locked us up

You’re the shield with no mercy

Now everyone knows your name

Because for every question, “distance” seems to be the answer.

You’re the shield, with no mercy

Your signature is the curse word: unprecedented.

Because, for every question “distance” seems to be the answer

and you wholeheartedly accepted credit to title

Your signature as the curse word: unprecedented.

I guess the actors, and musicians, and athletes all had to sink for you to rise

and you wholeheartedly accepted credit to title

“6 feet apart” as the new world constitution.

I guess the actors, and musicians, and athletes all had to sink for you to rise,

Because there is only ever one gold medal, one first place:

“6 feet apart” - the new world constitution.

And I guess I should thank you, for being the first to unite the globe

Because there was only ever one gold medal, one first place

But when will this race end, when will you return the status quo that you stole?

I guess I should thank you, for being the first to unite the globe.

You’re the one that cancelled concerts, closed airports, locked us up

But when will this race end, when will you return the status quo that you stole?

Oh, how you rose to fame so very quickly.

Photo by Cameron Spurr

Brooke Beesley wrote the poem “To Social Distancing” in HS English Teacher Eve Ellis’ Poetry class, in the form known as a pantoum.

“The line that I’m most proud of would be, ‘Oh, how you rose to fame so quickly,’” Brooke Beesley said. “It kind of encapsulates the entire idea of how much we don’t control in our lives and how much there are other things that we need to be able to adapt to and change because, in the end, different things that happen and experiences that we have in our life are what’s gonna define us.”

Madeleine Ashton (’21)

Photo by Madeleine Ashton

Ashton said she created this piece during lockdown in March 2020 for her Drawing and Painting class. It is meant to “express the isolation” that COVID-19 has induced, as well emphasize the importance of physical human connection, which has been limited due to pandemic restrictions.

“There's a lot of emotion that comes with like, touching someone else and that, you know, that feeling of giving someone a hug,” Ashton said. “And not being able to do that for such a long time just has this like really demoralizing feeling.”

Leila Bouri (P ’30 ’32)

Photos by Leila Bouri
“I remember being very grateful because my friends in Italy and in France could not even go outside,” Bouri said. “So I remember when we went outside, I would tell the children what a luxury this is that we can leave.”

Yasmin Taraporevala (’28)

I am Your Fear

I am your fear,

ready to question you and make you doubt,

ready to make you think long and deep,

ready to make your brain shout with confusion and anger.

I am your fear,

ready to give you a fright you’ll never forget,

ready to make you cry yourself to sleep at night,

ready to make you punch a wall till it crumbles from your anger.

I am your fear,

I creep up on you so you get stronger,

so you get braver,

so you can conquer anything or anyone that tries to knock you


I am your fear.

Photo used with permission from KlausHausmann/Pixabay

“I learnt new things over quarantine that changed my mind, my perspective of the world that had to do with fear, BLM, Asian racism, anxiety,” Taraporevala said. “I also learnt a lot of new things while writing the poem, and like as I was typing it, I realized how much the things around me, what was happening in the world, meant to me.”

Angela Tung (P ’23)

Photos by Angela Tung
“It was sort of fun to have … control since the pandemic was raging and we had no control,” Tung said. “So, in my little mask project, I could decide, ‘Oh, I can change the length of the ear elastics if I get some of these little things,’ or, ‘I can sew this tighter or looser.’ The sewing was very comforting.”

Eden Leavey (’24)

Screenshots by Eden Leavey
When government restrictions required school to shift into the DLP, I felt digital communication was thrust upon us as our only form of connection – but also education.

HS Journalism Teacher Louisa Avery (P ’34)

“I remember wondering whether Charlotte will even remember this when we first shut down in March,” Avery said. “Now it's been so long – 15 months of it – she's used to masks, she's used to all of it, and it's the opposite. Will she ever really remember pre-COVID?”

Photo by Louisa Avery

Leila Bouri (P ’30 ’32)

Screenshots by Leila Bouri
“This is my lockdown, the first one,” Bouri said. “It's characterised by emptiness, stillness, silence. The only place in the world I could find a crowd was on the Ocado queuing system, and it was in one way very frustrating because it took about eight hours to get in to book a slot for the family shopping, but at the same time very comforting because I was at least sharing that experience with 16,000 other people.”

Avery Beesley (’28)

“It was weird being stuck somewhere that you normally come to relax, but now it’s just like a stressful environment because you're always there,” Avery Beesley said. “This video was a way to explore new ideas and explore myself and explore how I can share positive energy with other people.”

Casper Janssens (’28)

Janssens said gaming helped him to feel less isolated while still being able to socialize with others.

Photo by Casper Janssens

Liliana Amador-Marty (P ’26 ’27)

Left: Photo by Frank Marty | Right: Photo by Liliana Amador-Marty
“I also choreograph, that's what I was doing,” Amador-Marty said. “I was making great materials outside and it was so beautiful, the wind was blowing. It was a perfect spiritual opportunity for me to be out there and help me cope with what's happening.”

Performing Arts Teacher Lorraine Davis

Davis said throughout the first London lockdown, members of the High School and Middle School orchestra individually, remotely recorded their parts to the song “Over the Rainbow” composed by Harold Arlen. Davis said she pieced together the 60 recordings into a final track. Then, she added the track to a video she created which contains images of flags around London to commend the NHS staff.

“When I watch that video, it brings it all back,” Davis said. “I remember exactly how fresh that felt. I remember exactly how much seeing rainbows around the city meant to me. It really felt like we were unified and trying to help each other out. It was life-changing.”

Liliana Amador-Marty (P ’26 ’27)

Photos by Liliana Amador-Marty
Everyone is making art right now to deal,” Amador-Marty said. “Creativity is what saved me in the situation and subsequently everybody else in my family.”

Elena Alexander (’23)

When I look at this picture, I am reminded that although COVID-19 threw many normalities away, it also brought my family together in a way we wouldn’t have been before. My brother came to stay with us in London while attending college online, and no one travelled for months. We have now celebrated all four of our birthdays together in our London living room over the span of one year and two lockdowns, and I am grateful for the extra time I have spent with my family throughout all the turmoil of the pandemic.

Photo by Elena Alexander

Shireesh Vasupalli (P ’29 ’32)

Photos by Shireesh Vasupalli
“I was taking some pictures that were more like the haunting images during lockdown,” Shireesh Vasupalli said. “Just to get over the confusion, it was nice to express it through words or through pictures, and we shared those pictures to express how we're feeling.”

Nidhi Arora (P ’29 ’32)


Peter changed into his pyjamas, brushed his teeth, shaved and settled in front of his computer for the Friday night whole-family video call that Mary had started when the lockdown began, ‘to keep their collective spirits up’. She lived two streets away with her husband and twin daughters. David dialled in from Napa Valley. Between Annie’s drawings, Katie’s handstands and David’s virtual tours of his vineyard, they didn’t get much talking done, which suited Peter just fine.

“Lockdown at one level changed everything but at another level it changed nothing,” Arora said. “So, the lead character, he remains the same. He just finds another way of being the same on Zoom meetings, and that's what I want to communicate.”

Rish Vasupalli (’29)


Lockdown, what the world is under

The officials haven’t made a blunder

But people are going insane

There is no one on the lane

We’re all asunder.

Photo used with permission from Tumisu/Pixabay

“In my poem, I wanted to say that lockdown isn't a bad thing, but it changes, it's different,” Rish Vasupalli said. “We're just not used to it.”

HS English Teacher Alissa Mears (P ’30 ’32)

Photos by Alissa Mears

Mears said she would describe the present as “utterly exhausting and joyful.” She said amid her experience with COVID-19, she believes her family has grown a lot closer. Throughout both lockdowns in London, she explored Hampstead Heath and collected nature such as leaves, flowers and stones with her family. Then, she said they used the items collected to create art such as collages and lanterns.

“We just tried as much as possible to celebrate the seasons, celebrate the time we had together to spend in nature,” Mears said. “There was kind of this ephemeral quality to it. A lot of the things we did were not permanent. We did them in the moment and that felt cathartic in a period where there was just a lot of uncertainty.”

Camilla Griffin (’25)

“Throughout the video I'm like, ‘Just stay inside, do your best to help,’” Griffin said. “That was sort of what my family was doing.”

Sifat Vasupalli (’32)

Moly and the funny bunny

Once a fox was walking down a street in Central London. His name was Moly. It was around

afternoon time. There weren’t any people on the street because of Covid 19.

Moly whispered quietly to himself, “I am hungry”.

As he was walking, Moly thought he saw a bunny on the street. The bunny was very still,

sitting quietly on the pavement. Moly thought for a moment and made a mean plan. He

disguised himself as a kind fox and went to the bunny and said in his sweetest voice, “Hi!

Nice to see you.”

The bunny didn’t answer.

Moly was puzzled why it didn’t say anything. Still, he hugged the bunny and said, “I love


The bunny continued to be quiet.

Moly suddenly opened his mouth and clenched the bunny in his jaws. He felt something

hard under his teeth. The bunny said, “Hello!” in a squeaky voice.

Moly paused. “This doesn’t make sense,” he thought. Firstly, the bunny had said hello

without even opening its mouth. Secondly, and more importantly, it spoke when it was

being gobbled up! Thirdly, and most importantly, what was that hard thing he had bitten?

“It’s ok,” he said to himself, shrugging his shoulders. “I’ll just keep eating.”

He chewed happily. But, once he had fully eaten the bunny, Moly felt funny in his stomach.

He felt full, but also, a bit odd, and quite sick. He fell to the ground and said “BLEH”.

There was something sticking to his tongue. It was He took it out of mouth. It was fluff!

He rubbed his tummy. The bunny squeaked “Hello” again, from inside Moly’s tummy.

Moly shouted, “I ATE A STUFFY!!!”

The end

Photo by Sifat Vasupalli

“During lockdown, I wanted to write something wild, and a fox is like a wild animal,” Sifat Vasupalli said.

Anne Foussé (P ’21)

Photo by Anne Foussé
“I couldn't find eggs or yeast or pasta, people were freaking out and hoarding things like toilet paper,” Foussé said. “[The shirt] is a souvenir of a really strange time.”

Jennifer Tate (P ’26 ’28 ’31)

Photos by Jennifer Tate

Maximillian Olsher (’21)

All text has been written from Olsher's perspective.

Singing in choir in small groups was my reassurance that other people existed and my escape from the often mundane and repetitive routines of lockdowns.
Photos courtesy of Maximillian Olsher
I included a photo of us in our caps and gowns to recognize the full stop at the end of our ASL experience! We made it.
The endless Zoom meetings were a clear staple in all of our lives as we tried to make sense of this new world.

Liliana Amador-Marty (P ’26 ’27)

Escape Balcony

Flight to islands most remote

Where sea is spars and people scares

And I can watch my trepidations float

Adrift breezes circulating air

Drives on land will minimise the risk

Way up north where highlands live alone

Watching disconnected folks some of whom are sick

And should be quarantined at home

Travel south to coastal waters west

Amongst medieval villages and cliffs

Forested trails outdoors walking for rest

Scent of grounding earth adrift

Best stay on my Balcony Escape

Wooden tiles boxed in a tiny space

Lavender in pots and vines in boxes drape

My realised imagined sacred place

Photo by Liliana Amador-Marty

“I made a space on my fire escape, where I could be outside and not feel trapped,” Amador-Marty said. “I would sit there every morning and write in my journal.”


Elena Alexander, Grace Hamilton, Isabel Link, Gabrielle Meidar, Ella Podurgiel and Cameron Spurr contributed to reporting.


Created with images by KlausHausmann - "hand disinfection disinfection mouth guard" • Tumisu - "lockdown virus self-quarantine"