When the coronavirus pandemic became real for most Americans, the news cycle was dominated by COVID-19 related stories. And rightly so. This has been without a doubt a life-defining event for many of us. However, throughout this whole time, there was a voice that was constantly missing from the airwaves: that of the youth.

Students all across the country have seen their lives upended and have been forced to deal with a reality that even most of us grown-ups have been struggling to get a hold of.

At WFDD we wanted to change that. We wanted to hear from the source in an unfiltered, unedited way. So, we put out a call for students everywhere to submit a piece of audio that, in their own way, would reflect how their lives had been changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. There was only one rule: be creative.

We received poems, original songs, spoken word pieces, and even movie reviews. And every submission showed us something new about what's been like being a young adult in times of extreme uncertainty.

The winning piece, An Exercise in Patience by Jessica Taylor, a junior at Weaver Academy in Greensboro, NC, is an original song with music and lyrics written by Taylor. As she puts it, quarantine for her was a chance to pause and reassess.

“This exercise in patience is almost driving me crazy. But at the same time, I'm realizing how I can take care of myself. And what I really need to be happy, and I feel almost blissful because there's not as much pressure as normal on me,” said Taylor.

Like many high school students, Taylor saw the beginning of the quarantine as an opportunity to take a breath. School was out for a while. But then a week turned into a month, a month turned into two, and not being able to see her friends started to take a toll.

“I realized that like my body doesn't realize how much it misses people until I get to hug them again," she said. "I've seen a few people over quarantine and I hugged them and I'm like, ‘Whoa, I totally missed this, but I had no idea.' So it's almost like I feel totally fine. But I think deep down I do miss the physical contact and just being with people, like that's always going to be number one. It's always going to be the best but the internet is a really good substitute,” explained Taylor.

While the past couple of months have had their ups and downs, the hope for better days is not lost on Taylor.

“I don't want to be naive, because I know it's a huge problem and a really unprecedented situation, but the way that everyone has reacted to it, the way that our teachers have adapted and families have adapted and people are looking out for each other, I feel like we will be fine.”

You can listen to Taylor's original song here:

You can listen to other submissions here:

Lucas Thomae - 12th Grade

Cameron Woody - 11th Grade

Eli Dossey - 10th Grade

Bridget/Hailee Johnson - 9th/10th Grade

Gabe Irving - 9th Grade

Bryson Pennington - 9th Grade

Madison Edwards - 9th Grade

Nina Howards - 7th Grade

Max Mason - 7th Grade

Walter Carmichael - 6th Grade 

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