Local teens participated in the Black Lives Matter march in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill on June 4. Teens are taking college classes online, training for when scholastic sports return and increasing their activism this summer. (From left) the author, Alexa Leckrone, Elizabeth Anderson, Andrew Kallmeyer, Benicio Beatty and Maya Charles.

by Alexa Leckrone

With vacations cancelled and summer sports tournaments postponed, many teenagers are scrambling to make plans for this unique summer. The social distance restrictions have eased but have not been eradicated, and many businesses and entertainment hubs still have their doors shuttered. How are local teens going to get through the long summer after already having been shut in for three months during quarantine?

Luckily, it seems as if teenagers are still getting involved in multiple activities over the next few months. The most popular pastime is finding a job at a local store or babysitting the neighbors’ kids. A month ago, these normal summer occurrences seemed so unattainable. But with Philadelphia and Montgomery County’s movement into the yellow phase on June 5h, (and with green phase likely by the end of this month) small businesses and recreational centers have opened up with restrictions and restored the opportunity for typical summer jobs.

As for other activities, the uniqueness brought by COVID-19 has had just a minor impact on opportunities — the only real difference from previous summers being the transition from in-person interaction to online correspondence.

Colleges have been scrambling to find ways to reach prospective students due to the closure of campuses and suspension of tours. Many programs have been moved to the internet including information webinars and student panels.

The most popular college experience high schoolers are receiving right now is the extension of online classes for high school students. So many universities usually offer these programs, but they have all been moved online through Zoom sessions and virtual curriculum apps such as Canvas.

Andrew Kallmeyer, a rising senior at St. Joseph’s Prep, is taking multiple college classes this summer. One is at St. Joseph’s University where Prep students can take classes for free through the affiliation of the university and secondary school. Kallmeyer is taking an arts course to complete his senior year art requirement.

Additionally, Kallmeyer is taking two online courses at Harvard University in computer science which is his ideal major for college.

“The cost was great value for what I’m getting from the course,” he said. “I’m learning how to code in a lot of basic programming languages, such as C and Java, and later I’m taking another course that dives deeper into Python, another computer language.”

Many high school students are pursuing internships they planned prior to the outbreak of coronavirus that have moved online. Elena Granda, a rising senior at Mount Saint Joseph Academy has an internship at a pharmaceutical consulting company named EM Partners. Her responsibilities will include assisting with research, creating PowerPoints, and editing pieces of writing. Though the internship is virtual, it is an opportunity for Granda to learn the aspects of pharmaceutical business which will help her pursue her ideal career in marketing.

“My internship will be conducted solely online so I will not be able to experience the office environment in its entirety; however, I am excited to better my understanding of workplace dynamics and communications,” she said.

Throughout quarantine, teenagers have picked up new hobbies that have become pastimes for this summer. Maya Charles, another rising Mount senior, has been training to get in shape for the indoor and outdoor track season and to secure a college commit for track and field.

A typical day for Charles is filled with fitness.

“I usually like to start off my day with a speed workout run in the morning,” she said. “When I return home, I watch the daily ab workout videos from YouTuber Chloe Ting’s program.”

Charles has also picked up cooking and will continue to master her skills this summer. She has tried many healthy recipes to help her remain fit, but she has also learned to cook dishes with special meaning to her.

“I’m part Caribbean so I’ve spent quarantine making authentic meals with my parents,” she said. “It’s been great getting back in touch with my heritage.”

Charles also is getting involved with civil rights this summer following the murders of George Floyd and many more African Americans by police. She went to the Mt. Airy Solidarity March on June 5and is looking to further support the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

She joins many teenagers in Chestnut Hill are taking action to combat racism and discrimination in our own community.

Kallmeyer is on the new-found committee at The Prep named “Men for All” which will create a better sense of diversity and understanding within the school.

“Its goal is to implement better diversity training for our students to fight against implicit bias, micro-aggressions, and stereotyping which can be common and contagious in a high school setting,” he said.

The committee will meet about once a week starting this summer and facilitate discussions on diversity as well as implementing equality in the school.

The weekdays are successfully filled with hobbies and responsibilities, but what about the weekends? The social scene for this summer has changed as distancing measures are still enforced. Luckily, there are ways for teens to properly social distance so they can still catch up with friends. Walks, picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor activities are popular.

Charles explains her rules about maintaining distance while around friends.

“I am social distancing around my friends,” she said. “I never meet with more than 4 at time and it will always be in an open place like a park or my backyard. I no longer come over to my friends’ houses.”

To keep in contact, she usually goes on runs with a friend on a nearby trail.

Granada also speaks on her social distancing practices noting her creative way of keeping in touch with her friend.

 “One of my friends and I have started an art exchange every time that we see each other, swapping paintings, homemade jewelry and even baked goods are a great way to keep in contact and stay productive while staying socially distant,” she said.

Despite the setbacks brought by COVID-19, teenagers are stepping up to get involved in activities and stay connected this summer. The motivation and work ethic of the local teen population ensures a successful and impactful summer.

Alexa Leckrone is a rising senior at Mount St. Joseph Academy. She is working as a remote intern at the Local this summer.

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