Sky Valin

Sky Valin, 14, prepares gardens for planting while Arrow watches. South Burlington High School senior Noelani Rupp biked up to South Hero Island to shelter in place with the Valin family.

This is not the senior year that Cole Patno signed up for.

“It’s hard being a senior and having the senior year things go down,” said the South Burlington High School student. “It’s not just the senior activities. All the senior class who are planning on going to college have to make a decision. Having colleges cancel visits, there are colleges I’ve been accepted to that I haven’t even visited. It’s hard to choose to go to a college that I haven’t even set foot on.”

Cole appreciates that a lot of colleges have pushed back their deadlines for commitment.

His parents are divorced so it’s just Cole and his mother at home: “It’s a good thing we get along with her being the only person I see.”

Although he sees the possibility of rough patches ahead in their relationship, he believes they’ll come out of this time even closer, which he suspects will be true for many people.

“Whenever people are faced with a difficulty, it’s easier to come together than to throw up divisions,” said Cole.

Because he recently traveled outside the country, Cole has been trying to be even more diligent about isolating himself from other people.

He flew to Aruba on Sunday, March 15, there were only around 30 people on the flight and it was a big airplane, he said.

They realized on Monday that things were moving towards quarantine and flew back on Wednesday. The plane was packed during his return.

He’d seen a couple of people with masks on the flight from Newark to Aruba, but when he came back three days later, “it was more hectic and all the masks, all the gloves and all the Lysol wipes” were out.

For some entertainment, he said recently, his neighbors in the Village at Dorset Park have costumed themselves in bright hats and driven around the neighborhood hollering and honking their horns.

“Another thing is people have been writing inspirational quotes in chalk on the sidewalk,” Cole said.

Keeping busy

For some, this period of forced down time is an opportunity is to catch up on projects or exercise.

For Noelani Rupp, a senior at South Burlington High School, the problem has been that she got her to-do list done too quickly and was bored.

“The first day I was going to embrace this distancing. I detailed my car. I did all my homework. I went on a run. I did everything, and then I didn’t have anything else to do,” she said. “I’ve taken up knitting, but I don’t think that’s my calling.”

Noelani finished her graduation requirements early and has spent this year taking college courses at Community College of Vermont.

She has also been interning this year with The Other Paper.

Although all her classes are online now, even before the self-isolation went into effect, “about half were online anyway, so it’s not too stark of an adjustment,” she said.

She biked from South Burlington up Burlington’s Island Line Trail. Where the causeway ends on the Vermont side, she was met by a rowboat and taken across with her bike. She biked on to her boyfriend’s family’s home on South Hero where she’s been staying, so she’s got social connections during this time.

However, “to not know what’s coming next is a bit unnerving,” she said.

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