Back to School with Dylan

An interview with an inspiring young person Dylan Pinto, Class of ’22

Her thoughts about re-entering school following quarantine from COVID-19

Dylan Pinto is entering her senior year at Masuk High School in Monroe, CT.

We met Dylan when she showed interest in volunteering with our Hearts of Hope Newtown, CT team where she has been active since spring 2021 spreading the word about events and assisting throughout the summer with each of these events.
We know that, while we’d love to be done with this pandemic, the pandemic isn’t over with us. However, we excitedly take small steps to re-enter a world which is permanently changed. This includes return to full time school for students who were challenged to their limits throughout school closures, hybrid classes and virtual learning.

This interview was conducted in August 2021, by Judy Pedersen, Hearts of Hope Founder and Dylan Pinto, Hearts of Hope Volunteer, as Dylan prepares to enter her last year in high school.

We know you will be as inspired by this bright, young mind with a spirit that shines through every word.

Judy: How was life for you personally throughout the pandemic?

Dylan: Personally, during the pandemic I felt drained due to lack of socialization and all the restrictions put up. I made the most of it and had a positive mindset, however like many others, wish that covid did not exist. I hated not being able to see friends and family or having opportunities to go to exciting places and really experience my high school years. I am fortunate to have been able to see friends when summer came around last year and enjoyed taking walks with friends, as well as going to the beach and hanging out by the water. I spent a lot of my time on my laptop on zooms for school, as well as doing zooms for dance classes nightly. I also rewatched a lot of tv shows and ate some yummy foods I had not ever thought about snacking on weekly, such as nachos.

Judy: What gave you hope throughout quarantine?

Dylan: This is a great question, and one that requires me to think a great deal. I feel like quarantining throughout the pandemic was emotionally draining. My usually outgoing self was forced away from people and I had to be even more outgoing, but now via technology. I feel like as a high schooler during quarantine, I found out who some of my true friends were and learned a lot of valuable life lessons.

I found a lot of hope in the fact that there would be a change, I started thinking with the mindset that we could not live like this forever and that eventually it will get better. I found hope through my virtual dance classes and by reading some inspirational books (most of which were by Brene Brown).

I felt as though I would rather spend my time on this earth living my life, then being cooped up, not living, and fearing death! I found hope in the little things. For instance, I found hope when things like my dance studio started slowly to re-open.

Judy: How do you feel about getting back to in person classes?

Dylan: I am so ready to be back in person. Last year I was one of few students who decided to go back full time and absolutely loved it. During the 2020-2021 school year students were faced with many different learning styles at Masuk High School. The first part of the year all students who chose to go in person would go in for two days and stay home the other three and do classes virtually. This was a cohort style learning system and cohorts were broken up by alphabet. I hated the first part of the year as I was forced to socialize with certain people that were on my side of the alphabet and didn’t get to see some of my close friends. For the second half of the school year, students could choose to continue this way or be fully virtual OR be fully in person. I choose to be fully in person and it helped so much. I was able to see most of my friends (some were all virtual) and was able to develop a sense of routine at school!

Judy: What lessons from COVID-19 will you bring with you as you enter your senior year?

Dylan: As I go back to school this year, I am really going to try and make sure to live out my senior year as best as I can. Coming out of this pandemic I have learned not to take anything for granted and to be so grateful for everything I have in life. I never knew what a blessing it was to just feel healthy and be “ok” or the blessing of simply being able to go to school and see people. I have also learned to let others know you love them often. This pandemic has been so hard on so many and spreading love and HOPE is something I want to spread to everyone this year. We need to be kind and HAVE HOPE!