Eastside Electives



In response to COVID-19, Eastside closed campus and moved to a distance learning model in March. The end of the school year, usually glittered with gatherings and celebrations, felt different with everyone sheltered in place. Despite the circumstances, Eastside has found ways to celebrate student accomplishments, and we're proud to share a website that elective teachers launched to showcase student work for the 2019-2020 school year. You can view artwork, writing, and performances at https://www.eastsideelectives.com/


Below, we've highlighted a collection of blogs that Eastside's journalism students published on the website as they wrapped up their final weeks sheltered in place.


CORONAVIRUS BLOG -- JOURNALISM -- MP6, weeks 1-5


APRIL 14 - GABY SAINZ-MEDINA (junior)


When we think of quarantine, we think of staying locked indoors all day. Boredom creeps in, along with frustration and annoyance at online classes and staying inside for weeks at a time. What doesn’t always come up, though, is the opportunities that arise, like things we want to do during school days but never have the time to accomplish. 

I never thought, for example, with all the craziness of school and responsibilities, that I would be able to prioritize my mental health or even organize the thoughts that pass through my head. Yet, these last few weeks have been an eye-opening experience. It’s almost like the whole time I’ve been at school, I’ve had this fog in front of me where all I can see is my school load and my responsibilities. Now, I have all this time to do the things that were behind the fog. 


Seeking help, actually attempting to prioritize my mental health and depression has been a life-changing experience. I have been able to get the help I needed through medication, along with several other techniques, such as a vision board and a journal to help separate my thoughts. I never realized how badly I needed this extended time until I was forced to endure it. 


Don’t get me wrong, I still get extremely frustrated, annoyed and bored on a daily basis. Yet, when I think of the entire time as a whole, I am grateful I have been able to help myself get back on track mentally. 


This “quarantine” also has given me new perspectives and values. It’s even given me more time to spend with my mom -- a few days ago, we binge-watched whole TV show seasons in one week. We were hooked on Money Heist, or Casa De Papel, which, if you’ve ever seen it, you can imagine how we fell apart laughing whenever Denver broke out in his classic and hilarious laugh. Whenever I was away from the house, my mom would text me asking when I would get home because she wanted to finish watching.  


While I might have fallen a little behind on some of my schoolwork, I was finally able to finish watching the shows that have been on my list all year. That, in my mind, is an accomplishment, achieved during a time when it seems like accomplishments are almost impossible to achieve. 


APRIL 14 -- FLOR AGUILAR (junior)


It never occurred to me that half of my junior year would take place in my basement. 

When I left Eastside’s campus, I carried four binders and three textbooks that weighed me down like bricks. In no world would I have thought that in-person classes would be canceled for so long.


Let's not talk about the amount of free time I have at home -- it’s endless. Two weeks ago my dad and I went to Costco to buy snacks. We sure picked the wrong day to go! It was raining heavily, and yet you cannot imagine the humongous line that wrapped around the entire building. I overheard many people complaining about the service because they were not letting people in and customers had to wait in the cold rain. 


Many people, including myself, took pictures of the scene because we had never seen Costco so packed. The madness of people swarming to grab tissue and cases of water bottles was crazy. A woman tried to pass through a line in order to get to the next aisle and another lady called her out, thinking that she was trying to cut in line. She almost started a huge argument, but then the first woman explained and fortunately, the second lady listened.


And don’t let me start about the lines to pay for your food. They were completely disorganized -- it looked like groups of people scattered everywhere. A supervisor had to signal people where the line had started or where the separate lines split because without that, it was total chaos. My father's face was in shock even though he expected this to happen. After about a 10-15 minute wait at the register, my dad finally bought our cartful of chicken, milk, eggs and fruits and vegetables. 


After that trip to Costco, I don’t go with my dad anymore. Putting up with crowds of people like that is just too much.


APRIL 17 - XOCHILTH AGUILA (senior)


These days, I feel like I have nothing to say, nothing to write. Nothing really is happening, only the world just seems to be paused. 


Sure, I’m really disappointed that I’m not going to have the senior year I expected. Aside from this unpredictable ending, the first half of my senior year wasn’t so great either.

Anyways,  I’m past the initial stages of grief ― getting upset, getting angry: I’m at acceptance now. When the only thing you can do is wait, you just sit there and take it.


You can’t go outside. You can’t become a doctor or nurse. You can’t magically turn into the medical genius who finds a cure by tomorrow. You can’t suddenly run a generous pharmaceutical company that produces The Vaccine. You can’t turn into the willing distributor to transport the cure all over the country, all over the world. 

Just wait. That’s all you can do.


I don’t feel hopeless, though. Some way or another, this will go away, and the world will restart again.


It’s funny to think that we’re living through history by sitting in our homes, binge-watching TV shows, and attempting to maintain our grades. I thought of “history” as something out there in the world, interacting with people, creating revolutions. It always included some element of defiance, some movement or cause.


But not everything is a battle. These days, who would we battle, anyway? In fact, who is “we” anyway? Is it the “we” who are at home, or the “we” who are in the hospitals, or the “we” dropping off packages for homes, or the “we” in grocery stores.


It’s really hard to feel connected to people when you can’t see them, but I really want to feel connected the way I always have.


In the meantime, we don’t know when this is going to end, but I’ll be waiting. Just waiting.

APRIL 20 -- DIANA GOMEZ (sophomore)


With this quarantine going on, it's important to focus on the positives to keep your head up. 


I had a big dose of the positive the other day, when my cousin-in-law, Luis Vargas, finally released his first full album, “Where To Begin”, on all streaming platforms! Under the stage name “Sanity”, his album includes 10 songs, one of them featuring Eastside’s dorm RF Jesse Sanchez !


My whole family is bursting with pride for Luis for getting one step closer to his dream of becoming a professional artist. 


Seeing someone I know succeed has been the highlight of my life under quarantine. Not only that, but honestly, his songs are really good! My favorite is “Loquita”, even though it’s a little strange to me that the song is about my cousin and their relations. 


With all the extra time you have these days, you’re probably looking for some new music, so make sure to stream “Where To Begin” on any platform!



APRIL 20 - STEPHANIE XILOJ (sophomore)


I never thought that I would be able to sleep at home on a weekday, but now I am.  I used to sleep at home just one night a week, but now I am home 24/7. I used to miss my family and wish I could spend more time at home, but now that I’m home, I feel a different void in my heart.


Living in the dorms was filled with friends and company. Now, I’m no longer able to rant daily at my RF, and my 5’11 roommate is no longer threatening my life, nor are we having our nightly talks. I miss eating lunch on the floor and eating dinner at the same table everyday. I miss watching Marvel movies with my RF and occasionally staying the weekend. 


So, I have a new list of things to miss.  But I also have a new list of things I feel grateful for. I get to watch family movies, braid my little sisters’ hair, and enjoy the nature around my home. I live in the outskirts of a city named Turlock, where trees surround my house and there are only three houses on our street. We have lemon, orange, and grapefruit trees in the backyard -- that's where my mom picks ingredients for homemade lemonade and other juices. I’m a big fan of her orange juice. 


I also love walking outside, riding my bike, and star-gazing. My little sisters love playing outside, so I tend to join them, and they never seem to run out of energy. Together we ride our bikes and try to find different star constellations. 


So the unexpected benefit of this pandemic is that I have been brought closer to my family. I hope we’re able to grow even closer during this time and to hopefully stay that way. 


APRIL 28 - JOCELYN URBINA (freshman)


During these times, days feel long, and the routines I once followed no longer prevail. Sometimes, it almost feels like everything around me is on pause and standing still. 

But one thing that hasn't been put on pause is nature. Flowers continue to grow, the temperature outside changes throughout the day, and the sun hasn't stopped rising and setting. 


When I was living in the dorms, I received a moon cactus in a secret Santa gift exchange. I loved it from the start, but the plant was easy to ignore as it hid behind my dorm room’s curtain. Then, I bought an Echeveria succulent during winter break. I took it to my dorm to decorate my room, but I also ignored its needs and the care it wanted from me. I rarely paid attention to my plants in the dorms - I was never in the mood to admire them or even think of them as more than just plants. 


Now that I’m home, I look at them differently. Something has changed.  

“Sheltering at home” has let me become close to the succulent plants, which now stay in my room. As they stand on my window sill, they no longer hide behind a curtain. They stand out perfectly, and remind me that they are still thriving in the midst of this stay at home order. I now have more time to watch them, so I notice every unique feature in them. I can't say that watering them has brought us closer since my plants don't need to be watered so often. But looking at them grow and stay alive has. 


In my moon cactus, I love to admire the perfect mix of orange and yellow blends into the little ball of cacti sitting on its stem. As for my Echeveria succulent, I love how bulky its base is and how thin and delicate its little flowers are. Its salmon-colored flowers lean towards the sun and stick out like bending twigs. 


It feels good, knowing the plants I am taking care of are accepting the love I put into them. In a sense, I help nourish them and they help me see the good in all this. Maybe staying home has made me a more observant person, one who can appreciate the little things like the plants standing still on my windowsill. 


MAY 1 -- STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ (junior)


Looking back, I never thought this situation would explode into an extremely long mandatory quarantine. 


In January, a friend told me about a deadly virus in the US. She said Washington had its first confirmed case, and that it had come from China. “Coronavirus…” I didn’t hear the rest as I thought the name sounded silly and I couldn’t take it seriously. News outlets weren’t talking about it as much as they do now.


Fast-forward to a month later, the virus began to draw recognition from news outlets, but it still hadn’t risen to the level of a serious concern.


I stayed in the dorms one of the weekends in February, when we had planned to go to the fair in San Jose, and someone told me that officials had reported plenty of confirmed cases there. I didn’t know if this was true or not but I didn’t feel any fear. We went to the fair,  and people weren’t wearing masks and were gathering in groups -- nothing like physical distancing. Then, the juniors had their East Coast Trip cancelled and the virus started to become a little more real. But I still didn’t believe it.


Life still seemed normal.  


Then one day in early March, I heard a knock on my dorm room door. I was lying on my bed, and I don’t remember who told me that we had a sudden meeting in the theatre. I was confused, because there were still three weeks until spring break. We headed to the theater where it took a while for everyone to quiet down. I still didn’t grasp that this had become serious -- it felt like someone pulling a prank. Then they told us to clean our rooms and pack up for three weeks, so we could stay at home until after the break. 

At first, people felt glad to “get four weeks off”. Then they began asking all kinds of questions -- about prom, graduation, other end-of-year activities. Uncertainty was the only response we received. Before long, people began to pack, and bags, suitcases and full trash cans stood in almost every hallway.


My RF told us to call our parents. I called my mom and I heard the phone ringing. Hola. I told her mami nos estan diciendo que nos tenemos que llevar todo porque están cerrando la escuela. I told my mom that we had to take everything because they were closing the school. I took boxes down from the closet and began to pack everything I could take that day, and I left the rest there. I didn’t get to sleep until midnight, and I didn’t sleep comfortably that night. 


We had been told to take just enough for three weeks, but that turned out to be a mistake.  Five weeks have passed since then. Every day, the news leads with CORONAVIRUS. It definitely has the recognition now that it should have had in the beginning.


I remember that early on, one of my teachers predicted that the quarantine would last longer than three weeks. He joked and said, “This is like when they tell you 10 minutes at the airport, but you end up staying there for longer.” I could never have believed then that I would still be quarantined in May. The month of March felt like a blob, but at least I still had Grey’s Anatomy. 


MAY 4 - SEEMA LAL (senior)


Wake up, Zoom, eat, sleep, repeat. This has been my daily routine during this quarantine. I have lost all my motivation to do any work, yet somehow I’m still doing it. I play Sims 4 every night but some days, I even feel tired of that.


 I have long accepted that this will be life for a while, and while it drains me, I still keep waking up every day,  And I try to make the most out of every day. 


One new thing I’ve started? More cooking and baking. Each day, I make a pretty big breakfast, including eggs and other things, depending on my mood. This is new because in the past I would only do that on weekends. As for baking, my mom loves bananas so she brings some home every week, but often no one else eats them, so I decided to put them to use. I have made banana bread several times, and after the second time, my friend Nayely called me out about for being obsessed with banana bread. I have also made a lot of chocolate chip cookies, and have started to make scones. My parents know that I am bored, so they let me do it and even let me have the kitchen all to myself.


Knowing that graduation is canceled and that I won’t have the opportunity to see my senior classmates in person bums me out every day. But that doesn’t stop me from being excited about what’s to come, even though nothing is certain during these times.