In 2014, Mrs. Feinberg, from my grade school alma mater, SOCES, referred me to tutor Madeline & Hannah Bushell. When I walked through the door of their home to tutor them for the first time, their mom, Lara, looked at me and said, “Well, it looks like you’re part of this family.” When I saw that Maddie & Hannah have natural auburn hair, light skin, and freckles like mine, I understood exactly what she meant. We literally look like we could be sisters.
Not many of us have the exact shade of natural red hair and dark brown eyes.
I then learned that the Bushell family is epically cool. Hannah & Maddie’s dad, Jeff Bushell, has a life-size framed poster of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, because he actually wrote the script for the film. The icing on the cake is that they have a real Chihuahua named Carlos. How could I not love this family already?
When catching up with Madeline & Hannah last week, I got to relive my childhood and also learn what it’s like to be a student glued to a screen of Zoom classes (something we definitely didn’t do in the late 90’s and early 2000’s)!
See below for a snippet of my interview:
MADELINE (11th grade):
MB: “I’ve been in online school since the week after March 13, 2020. Online school has been much different from in person learning. I get to sleep in a bit, which is nice, but online school is very depleting of social interaction and extra curricular activities. As a person who loves to learn, I really would prefer to be back in school right now. I want to be able to interact with my friends normally, and get to be a normal teenager again.
RR: Is there a story behind your mask?
MB: “My mask actually glows in the dark! That was one of the reasons I got it. It also has dinosaurs on it which is pretty cute.”
RR: What do you miss most about life before covid?
“I miss getting to perform in musicals and plays. Performing is one of my favorite things, and because of covid it is almost impossible to get that community feeling of putting on a show right now. I miss getting to go places as well, besides the market and drug store.”
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
MB: "Balancing my mental health has been hard. I have realized how much I need to be around people during this pandemic, something that I think most teenagers understand. Keeping myself positive and motivated has been a challenge, and some days are better than others. But having someone to talk to, whether it be a family member or friend, has made it more manageable.”
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
MB: “Hopefully I get a senior year! I’d love to get to some sort of senior activities before I go off to college. I’m excited to see my friends and to perform again. I really hope I’ll get to sit in a classroom before I graduate, and I won’t have to see a zoom screen again for a while.”
As an 11th grader, Covid has been stifling for Madeline, a student who craves connection and in person learning. She is used to raising her hand in class. In fact, she is 1 of 3 students who logs in and actually SHOWS her face on her Zoom English class of 27 students.
On the other hand, her younger sister, Hannah, is happy to virtually show up to her 7th grade math class (and yes, she is still getting straight A’s). She explains, “…now that there is online school I don’t have to get up as early or even get dressed. It’s nice but I also have a lot less motivation to do things and I’m just procrastinating half of the time.”
As you can see, virtual learning has benefited some, while for others, it has been quite the challenge to stay motivated.
For all the students out there, how do you feel about virtual learning?! Do you prefer your avatar or your actual face?