It’s tough to be a freshman. A brand-new school, new classmates, new teachers and a very different scheduling system from middle school. It becomes even more stressful for students when they have to start high school remotely. But Aurora Glassburn, a 14-year-old freshman at Black Hills High School, hasn’t let this year’s setbacks dampen her passion for community giving and finds some positives while navigating remote learning.
Aurora, or Rory as she is called, says high school is “Kinda scary and busy! I didn’t really have any expectations. I was planning on playing volleyball and seeing my friends.” What she wasn’t expecting was online learning, no sports and no in-person friends.
“It’s definitely harder,” Rory says of online school. “It’s harder to sit in front of a screen for an hour and forty minutes for each class. It’s hard to get motivation to do my work.” She says she is struggling with the workload too. “Each class gives us an assignment every day so it doesn’t feel like I have a lot of free time.”
And, like most teenage girls, there is something she misses very much about in-person school. “Socializing!!” she exclaims. “And meeting new people. I really miss leaving the house, I have bad cabin fever!”
Rory made no qualms when asked if she would like to keep doing online school, even when in-person learning re-opened. “No, absolutely not,” she says. “Never in a million years.” But while at first she claimed there was nothing about online school she liked, when pressed, Rory was able to find a couple positives. “My favorite subject would be PE because I like my teacher,” she admits. “He is very energetic and unintentionally funny.” And she likes her cooking class and yearbook class, both subjects she didn’t have in middle school.
With the quarantine and online schooling, Rory has been doing a lot of baking, using her mom’s recipes as well as ones she finds online. “I made a lemon pound cake recently for the first time, it was so hard to make,” she shares. “We didn’t have a duster so I had to use a cheese grater to make the lemon zest. But it was so good.”
Her mother, Carissa, and she have also been busy making lemon sugar cookies, which they make every year. But this year, they sold some as a fundraiser for the food bank. “we paint them with a mix of egg whites and food coloring and put a lot of sprinkles on them,” Rory explains. “We raised $400 that we are going to deliver next week and we got the schedule to volunteer so we will sign up soon. My friend wants to come with us when we do.”
This is not a new thing for Rory. She has been giving back for years. In 2016, she organized a food drive where she collected over 900 items for the Thurston County Food Bank and also volunteered there. She helped customers get their groceries, stocked shelves and made holiday food bags at the warehouse in Tumwater. “It makes me feel good that I’m helping other people,” she explains. “And it gets me out of the house and doing something productive during quarantine.”
In 2017, she also helped her mom coach a recreational basketball team through Tumwater Parks & Recreation. The team was an all-boys team called The Birds. “There was another girl that helped us coach,” Rory says. “It was cool to be all girls coaching a boys team.” She helped by demonstrating activities, setting up equipment and would even fill in for scrimmage practice if they were down a player. She played basketball for four years before switching to volleyball, so she had the skills.
“I liked to race the boys when they would run lines to see if I could beat them,” she adds. “I want to coach a little girls team someday.”
Rory is thinking about her next community project already. “I was thinking of making Christmas food and bringing it out,” she says. “I also checked a couple of weeks ago and it looks like the food bank is still open so I would like to volunteer there and my friend wants to come with me.”
In this darker time, when it’s easy get depressed or see the bad in everything, we could all take a card from Rory’s hand and learn to make the best of each situation. With teenagers like her in the world, the future is in good hands.