NYC Bus Drivers Fear For Their Safety Amid the Ongoing Pandemic

Danny Cruz has been operating MTA NYC buses for 4 years. It’s a job that has “no normal”.

No two weeks are the same and even aside from a global pandemic, more can go wrong than can go right.

“We’re responsible for everything during our shift. We deal with so many things on a daily basis,” Cruz explains.

Photo of Danny Cruz, MTA bus operator. Courtesy: Danny Cruz

This could mean unruly passengers, shift callouts, traffic, bus accident, mechanical difficulties and more.

COVID-19 was the first major crisis that hit NYC during Danny’s time with the MTA in which he had to encounter.

“A lot of the guys I worked with have been through 9/11, Sandy, NYC blackout, so they’ve been through their own things but for me this was a dramatic change. I had to figure out how to handle this while keeping NYC moving.”

The biggest concern on Cruz’s mind?

Safety.  

“Sometimes it doesn’t seem that people grasp the concept that, we’re humans.”

Amid the pandemic, NYC subways shut down from 1am to 5am for disinfecting. Buses were the source that kept and continue to keep the city moving.

“Buses are a very important means of transportation in NYC, because we never really shut down. From my personal opinion we should have shut down at the beginning of the pandemic until the MTA would have provided us with a proper mask,” Cruz says.

He highlights an important area that he deemed concerning: the lack of masks made available for MTA staff.

“They denied us masks back in March. We eventually got a KN95 mask which we had to sign for and then they stopped. We are now offered cloth masks, which we do not feel is adequate and if we ask for a KN95 mask, we are told they do not provide them, or they do not have any,” Cruz explains.

As one of the most highly visited cities with public transportation that runs 24/7, the pressure was on to keep the concrete jungle running.

“Many of us were afraid to return to work because we knew the protection was still not adequate enough. Many of the members that trained me have decided to retire earlier than they expected, so they can avoid the possibility of infection.”

Riders of the MTA public transportation should be seen treated just as important as medical staff. After all, they are the ones responsible for getting first responders safely to and from work after all.

Photo Courtesy:
Spencer Platt
 / Staff

The NYC Subway system was impacted just as hard.

With no proper safety in place for MTA staff, it not only jeopardizes the operators, it puts anyone that steps foot on a bus or train at risk as well.

“The best thing that could have been done for us early on was to offer us the protection when we requested it. Many of those workers who lost their life would still be with us. Now after the tragedy families are left alone trying to survive financially with a broken heart. I can’t speak of what should be done, because I’m still stuck fighting with what wasn’t done for us, it may have been avoidable,” Cruz says.

As the reality of that statement sinks in, it is easy to see that more work still needs to be done to ensure safety for MTA employees. When asked about specific precautions that could be done to help improve safety, Cruz has no shortage of helpful suggestions.

“Bus operators definitely need full partitions; this prevents from direct contact during the pandemic and minimized the number of future assaults that can occur. Parents need a Child Care plan that we qualify for in case they have no support at home. Many of our parents, when schools were shut down, could not make it to work and we were classified not eligible for the Child Care FMLA benefit that was offered by the government and state.”

When it comes to change, it always comes down to leadership and communication. MTA employees need to be seen as real people who are bravely reporting to work to keep the city operating.

“Enough is not being done. I believe we need new leadership in both the MTA and TWU Local 100. This pandemic showed a slow response to ensure the safety of the employees and that is unacceptable coming from the ones that are supposed to ensure out safety is #1 priority,” Cruz states.

How I whiten my teeth for $3 or less

The coronavirus pandemic has given my sisters and I tons of opportunities (or challenges depending how you look at it) on figuring out our own DIY beauty hacks and routines. This has included waxing our eyebrows, pedicures, and most recently: a home remedy for teeth whitening.

Some of our feats have been successful. I do a darn good job waxing my own eyebrows if I may brag. Others, not so much (I do not recommend gluing on eyelashes for fun if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing). Overall, I realized how much money I can truly save by doing most self-care tasks myself.

One day, my younger sister Casey observed her smile in her bedroom mirror.

“I’d like to get my teeth whitened sometime. How do you get yours so white?”, she said.

It is a compliment I have often received but the truth is, I never spent big bucks on whitening my teeth. It isn’t a cheap ordeal if you go the in-office route.

The average cost for professional in-office teeth whitening treatment in New York City ranges between $99 to $999.

Many celebrities flaunt a desirable smile that is either veneers or created after expensive procedures but for about $3 and some consistency, a white smile can be achieved without breaking the bank.

Baking soda. That is my big, affordable secret.

Well, that and, consistency brushing my teeth 2-3 times a day of course. 

I usually grab and Crest toothpaste that includes a “whitening” feature in its description along with a matching whitening Listerine, and that has done me justice for years.

I have gone through 4-6 years of braces and Invisalign to achieve the straightness I wanted, but whiteness has truly never been a struggle of mine. So thank the baking soda or just my consistency with my oral hygiene, but if it works for me it can work for you too.

What you’ll need:

1 TBS ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda

1 TBS Water or Hydrogen Pxroxide

Mix these equal parts together to create a paste, brush gently in circular motions on all your teeth for about two minutes, and Bam! One step closer to white teeth.

According to an Arm & Hammer blog, the company states that baking soda is good for teeth whitening because it is a very mild abrasive, which helps remove stains from the surface of your teeth. In addition, baking soda is alkaline and salty, which helps lighten acid-based food stains – such as those from coffee, tea, and red wine – on teeth.

So try out!

You can read more here:

https://www.armandhammer.com/articles/how-to-whiten-teeth-with-baking-soda#:~:text=The%20easiest%20method%20to%20help,or%20a%20soft%2Dbristled%20toothbrush.

‘Mountain Life Yoga’ aims to bring peace amid pandemic chaos

Even upon entering Phase 4 in New York, there has been no guidance for when gyms can reopen.

 Dance studios, cycling, yoga, and indoor recreational sports are all on the list of activities and establishments that have yet to open or have had to follow very specific social distancing procedures. This leaves thousands of folks without their usual physical fitness routine.

During these times of uncertainty, there are a number of online video services, YouTube fitness channels or Zoom meetings that offer an alternative to in-person meet ups.

Rachel Leyden, owner of Mountain Life Yoga, is setting out to offer her services to whoever may need or want them.

Photo of Rachel Leyden in mermaid post. Photo Courtesy: Rachel Leyden.

“The goal of Mountain Life Yoga is to spread positivity through yoga. I want to offer classes that work on not only the physical stuff but mental health as well,” says Leyden.

The main goal overall? For people to feel energized

“I want people to feel safe and welcomed in my class. I recommend yoga to all ages, but I especially cater to adults age 50 and up. Mental health is important, especially amid a pandemic,” Leyden explains.

Leyden was 48 years old when she started teaching herself yoga. She is a self-taught instructor who is currently getting her yoga teacher training and has developed a huge following through her Instagram, where she hosts challenges and spreads positivity for her 19,000 followers.

Rachel Leyden’s Instagram account.

Rachel Leyden plans to offer 20-minute sessions on a personal YouTube channel by September 2020. These sessions will focus on chakras, stress management, and self-love.

Here is Leyden’s sample session that happens to focus on the root chakra. She suggests people try first thing in the morning to wake up the body and start the day off right:

After taking this class myself, I felt energized and at peace. It is clear that Leyden is in it because yoga is her passion. She has no monetary goals. Classes will be offered free of charge and she invites anyone who follows or watches her to engage with her via social media.

“Yoga has changed my life for the better. It is such an uplifting community and I want anyone who is open to have a chance to experience this too,” Rachel says.

Courtesy: Rachel Leyden

You can follow Rachel on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/mountain_mama_yoga/

Coronavirus Changed What Public Transportation in NYC Looks Like

New York City, often referred to as the concrete jungle, has the highest transit ridership across the United States but the coronavirus pandemic has completely reimagined that.

Its subway lines and bus routes are the heartbeat of the east coast melting pot, so it comes as no surprise that NYC public transportation was looked at as a danger zone amid a growing pandemic. By April, over 40 MTA transit workers passed away due to the virus.

The ease of getting around NYC without needing a personal vehicle is a factor that normally attracts many tourists. But between traffic and finding parking, having a car in the city can potentially be more of a hassle than all the other available options. Having a car seems like a more desirable option for those looking to get around.

COVID-19 has completely transformed the underground routes that thousands of NYC residents usually ride on daily.

Man wearing disposable medical face mask in car of the subway in New York during coronavirus outbreak.. Courtesy: Adobe Stock.

Packed subway rides and delayed trains are a thing of the past as most residents are cautious to continue to practice social distancing guidelines.

Here are first-hand accounts of some ways COVID-19 has transformed the subway system:

A large percentage of NYC’s homeless population has flocked to the subway. With no rush hour crowds, this allows more space for homeless individuals to station themselves underground.

According to NY1, the city is trying to connect homeless people to services in order to prevent them from permanently stationing on the subway lines. Some homeless individuals reported that homeless shelters they were encountering were at full capacity thus causing them to station underground.

The pandemic also marks the first time in history that the NYC subway system shut down for mandatory cleaning. NYPD officers helped patrol to help MTA workers accomplish this task.

The MTA released details on how they plan to step up cleaning procedures moving forward. This will include cleaning during the day in terminals, overnight in yards and bus depots and overnight in subway terminals.

The MTA is also exploring new technologies such as ultraviolet light and electrostatic sprayers to disinfect areas more efficiently.

As summer is in full effect, many New Yorkers admire that the subway remains more empty than usual.

For those looking to get day by day updates on any of the transit across New York City, the MTA New York City Transit Facebook page posts statuses on the regular.

On this Facebook page, you can find updates on specific routes, construction and how the MTA plans to continue combatting COVID-19.

If you must travel, certain safety procedures remain mandatory. This includes wearing a mask and avoiding crowds as much as possible.

Navigating the Universe While Misunderstood: A tale of a NYC-artist

“As an empath, I can feel the pulse of the world,” says Irrix, NYC based artist and designer.

2020 has been full of controversy, pain and the unexpected. For Irrix, he expresses the pains of the world and himself through his art but often times he is misunderstood.

“People look at my art and they may be turned off by it for whatever reason or feel fear but when you break that down and try to get deeper, it is often linked to their own judgement of the world,” Irrix explains. “When you walk past my artwork, it’s not comfort food.”

If one were to ask Irrix what kind of art he makes, he would say he doesn’t have a style but others have come to label his work as “Irrixism.”

“I have a technique. I have a signature.”

“I’ve never been one to follow rules or protocols,” states Irrix.

And that is exactly why his art is so attractive and eye-catching.

Shirt designed by Irrix.

Irrix explains his pieces are meant to display the pain that people feel.

“I truly believe that these pieces already have a home. I just am bringing to life this art that has a home. You purchased one of my shirts because it resonated with you. It touched you in a way that you feel expressed you.”

So who is Irrix? AKA D.U.O.

When asked, he is quick to answer.

“I am my father’s son.”

Irrix and his father. Photo courtesy of Irrix.

“I had to make the point to be a best friend to myself. I’ve always been me,” he explains.

When asked about his identity and inspiration behind being an artist, Irrix answers taps into a deeper explanation.

“I’m not in charge of what comes out. It sounds like witchcraft but there are no mistakes in art. No matter what you do, if you’re not doing what you were born to do, it’s not worth it,” he says.

Staying true to yourself isn’t always easy.

“It’s like pricing a painting, sometimes it can be hard to do that, but you have to know your self-worth and not let anyone who misunderstands you get in the way,” Irrix explains.

Irrix will easily confirm that we all have a dark side within us.

“I take my uncomfortable moments and I go out to lunch with myself. I ask myself why are we here today? What is it going to take for you to be comfortable inside?”

Photo Courtesy of Irrix.

When asked about how COVID-19 has impacted his way of making a living, Irrix smiles.

“If you are trying to sell art for the purpose of money only, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” he says.

His top three messages for any aspiring or current artists of the world during such a chaotic year?

“The first is to embrace the dark side of you. That is where the real art comes from,” he says.

“Never forget to give back and third, don’t ever draw in your life. Instead, create. If you’re drawing something someone tells you, that is not art. Create what comes naturally to you.”

Irrix above all else likes to enforce to his followers not to compromise. Being misunderstood is not enough to stop doing what you love.

“If it feels right. It’s your art. Period.”

The Man Without an Umbrella When the Sky Was Falling

All things eventually come to an end. High school, college, a concert you attend, and the list goes on.

But it’s hard to wrap your mind around the end to a human life, regardless of the circumstance.

Retired NYPD officer Brian Leyden lost his 26-year old son, to stage IV cancer.

That wasn’t the way he expected his time to end with David, especially when David had so much left ahead of him.

Brian pictured with his son’s David (left) and Ryan (right). Photo courtesy of Brian Leyden.

After twenty years spent on what Leyden calls “front row seats to the greatest show on earth”, Brian has seen traumatic things during his career with the NYPD that many will never experience in a lifetime.

He has been no stranger to witnessing sickness, violence or even death.

“My career did prepare me a little bit in the sense that, you know what you’re seeing. You know what to expect and you have to be truthful with yourself when it comes to witnessing something like cancer slowly taking someone’s life,” Leyden says.

“You can’t sugar coat anything. You just can’t deny statistics or the results of some of the treatments. As much as you want to spin things as best as you can, sometimes all you can do is be there to comfort someone.”

Brian grew up in Woodside, Queens.

“It was the border of Woodside and Astoria. Definitely a very diverse community,” Leyden explains.

His father was a retired detective.

“I was hired in 1994. I went in when I was 21 and got out at 41. 20 years was enough,” Leyden says.

And it didn’t take long for Leyden to see just how serious the job would get.

Brian Leyden on the job. Photo courtesy of Brian Leyden.

“There was one time while on patrol, I ended up getting stuck at a light. A woman came out screaming from a bodega that a teenager had just got his throat cut open,” Leyden says with a serious tone.

When Leyden recalls the story, his eyes seem to take him back to that day. He recounts the way the blood was so dark that it appeared black. He recounts the accordion layer of napkins that seemed to not stop the bleeding whatsoever. He recounts the way the teen gasped for air and collapsed on top of the ice cream freezer in front of the cash register.

“In the moment, the stuff can’t impact you. I think it’s a collective group of memories that eventually impact you in time. I can still describe to you things in vivid detail, so these instances really do stick with you,” Leyden continues.

“This is what I signed up for. This is what I took an ode for. To put myself in these situations or be there when these situations arise.”

Brian Leyden’s last day on the job as a police officer before retiring from the 24PCT. Photo Courtesy of Brian Leyden

When Leyden is asked how a near-death experience were to differ in his personal life, such as with his son David, he takes a beat before responding.

“I think it is different for everybody. It’s the nature of the relationship. It’s where you’re at in life. There are a lot of different factors,” he says.

His gaze focuses on a photo hung on the wall next to him of David.

“For me personally, I try to repress the outward emotion. And I would rather on my own morn it privately.”

Brian recounts the times he drove David to chemo sessions, doctor’s appointments, and emergency room visits during his one year battle with cancer.

“When people call 911, it’s the worst part of their life in that moment. They’re not calling to wish you a happy birthday. They’re calling because the sky is falling in their life. Their world is upside down,” Brian explains.

For twenty years, on countless nights, Brian continued to show up to the sky falling for thousands of people throughout Manhattan. Including in his own home.

“Once you make peace with the reality, you will no longer fight what you’re seeing. It doesn’t make any of it easy, but then you are no longer trying to fight something you can’t control. If you can’t control it, you have to make some sort of peace with it,” he says.

When asked if he would choose to do his career all over again if given the chance, Leyden does not hesitate.

“In a heartbeat.”

In a confident voice he continues. “There was nothing hard about doing the job if you know right from wrong. It was very easy in the moral sense. It’s a young man’s job physically but an old man’s job mentally. I did the best I could during my career. I did the best I could for David. You just do the best you can, and always continue to grow from these situations.”

What graduation celebrations look like for this New York high school senior amid COVID-19

On June 5th 2020, Seniors like Casey Leyden pulled into Valley Central High School and followed signs that read “SENIORS 2020.” Those signs directed seniors to a celebration lane at the school’s “Not So Ordinary Cap & Gown Pick Up Event”.  

The drive-by celebration was put together to ensure that high school seniors of VCHS could collect their graduation cords, cap and gowns, and goodie bags filled with candy.

“It made me feel super special. I had a smile on my face the entire time and it was my first time seeing a lot of my teachers since this whole quarantine started,” says Leyden.

“It definitely sank in that this pandemic has changed everything. We will be known as the Class of COVID-19 in history. I can’t believe that this is how things have to be.”

The event ran from 10:30am-3:30pm with staggered times for Seniors to arrive in their cars to feel celebrated one week ahead of their social distanced drive-through graduation.

Although COVID-19 has taken away any chance of a regular ceremony, the community came together to help honor the students. This including local florist The Secret Garden providing flowers for the students and local bakery Calculated Confections handing out baked treats as well as the Town of Montgomery Police Department, who grilled to provide a grab-and-go BBQ.

Valley Central High School dropped off ‘Class of 2020’ signs on the lawns of all graduating seniors. Photo by: Devin Hance.

Valley Central School District is one of the few schools that hands students their actual diplomas during graduation. The school still plans to do so during their scheduled drive-by.

A social distanced drive-by graduation will take place Thursday June 11th with scheduled time slots that families can sign up for. Photographers will be on-site to capture the memory for graduates.

Students and their families will be asked to arrive in one car by appointment only. Upon arrival, they will stop at the entrance at the school’s football field to be presented with a diploma and opportunity to take their photos via a professional photographer.

“I really hope that by the time August rolls around, we can re-do this whole graduation like it was supposed to originally be. I want to be on our football field next to my classmates, taking group photos and attending BBQs and graduation parties. I never imagined this is how it would all end,” Leyden explains.

If the opportunity presents itself to have proper celebrations, VCHS has some plans in mind.

  • Step 1: Host a celebratory virtual presentation on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 6PM to recognize all graduates in the Class of 2020.
  • Step 2: Host an official Commencement Ceremony at the High School on August 1, 2020 followed by an All Night Grad celebration adhering to any and all safety guidelines as per the State and local governments.
  • Step 3: If Step 2 is not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions, then a virtual Commencement Ceremony will be hosted on August 1. 

“Graduation is the event that we all look forward to in order to celebrate all of the hard work of the students and our community. We realize this is both a celebratory and difficult time for everyone involved and that contradiction has been a challenge to manage. We want to thank our students and families for rising to the occasion, along with the entire High School staff and Valley Central community, in supporting each other during this transformational time.” – Valley Central School District Superintendent John Xanthis

With plenty of time at home due to quarantine, seniors like Casey Leyden will have plenty of time to plan their outfits and cap and gown look for the picture-perfect photo.

“I’m not sure what I want to wear for my drive-through graduation yet. I feel like I’m going to have to make it memorable because it feels like I’m going to be capturing history. A senior photo that I’ll most likely show my kids and their kids one day. I’ll be able to tell them I lived through this pandemic during crucial years of my life,” Leyden says.

This Lifelong Dancer Hopes to see a Future on Stage Again

Highschool senior Casey Leyden is no stranger to the performing arts. For the last eight plus years she has been a dancer at the Hudson Valley Conservatory in Walden, NY.

“I have danced almost 5-6 days a week for as long as I can remember. Halting all that due to this pandemic was really upsetting,” Leyden explains.

Instead, Leyden has taken up her performing arts classes through Zoom, a video chatting platform. Her and her conservatory are not alone in this task.

Hundreds of studios across the country have also had to resort to virtual teaching and performing.

“First of all, my wi-fi is not reliable, I don’t really have space in my house that mimics a studio and it is not the same as being next to my friends and dancing to the music on the speaker system at my actual studio,” Casey explains.

Leyden’s dedication results in her constantly stretching multiple times a day, exercising multiple times a week and rehearsing lines and choreography during her free time.

“Even with all that prep and practice and strengthening, it’s still not going to being me my shows back,” Casey says.

Unfortunately for Casey, these alternative ways of performing won’t bring back her final bow as a senior at her dance company. Not only is she dealing with the loss of her high school graduation, prom, and senior events but she won’t get to properly close the chapter on her dance studio.

Photo by: NUVO Dance Convention

“My dance conservatory has been my happy place, but I realize that by the time I’ll be able to go back, it’ll be as an audience member and not a performer. This conservatory is for kids and teens K-12. I was supposed to celebrate all my time spent here since I finally am at my final year,” Casey says.

Casey maintains a positive attitude and hopes for a brighter future.

“Usually dance is what helps distract me from anything stressing me out. Now that I don’t have that outlet I lean on my friends and pets and family too,” she shares.

If the quarantine comes to an end, she will attend Adelphi University in Long Island and major in dance.

“My goal for the future is that I will dance in college all 4 years and then hopefully make it into a professional dance company. For now, I’ll keep working hard and training from home.”

Mother of Special Needs Child Describes Her Experience with Homeschooling During COVID-19

Unless home schooling was a regular routine for parents, having children and teens home full-time outside of school has most likely been a major adjustment for thousands of parents across New York state.

That is especially true for parents of children with special needs or disabilities.

Rachel Leyden is the mother of Ryan Leyden, who was diagnosed as a baby with PDD-NOS, another form of autism.

She has relied on the help of Ryan’s school aides, teachers and therapists to work with all the setbacks that come with being diagnosed autistic.

“It took years of failed public school experiences and evaluations before Ryan was properly placed in a school campus that was a perfect fit for him. I am so proud of how far he has come because of his school and teachers,” Rachel shares.

The Center for Discovery, a private school for children and adults with special needs, is Ryan’s educational institution. The Center, as it’s nicknamed, is a New York State Department of Health approved facility that also offers residential and medical support to the special needs community.

“It’s been a true game changing place for Ryan and our whole family really. The programs, facilities and educational support he gets there does not compare to any other place,” Rachel explains.

“It is absolutely not something I can come close to replicating but I am trying my best. A lot of these kids don’t understand what is going on. My son Ryan doesn’t understand that there is a world pandemic going on,” Rachel says.

It was extremely disappointing for Rachel to come to terms with the fact that Ryan would not be able to attend school on his regular Monday through Friday schedule once governor Andrew Cuomo canceled school for the remainder of the 2020 school year.

Each year, The Center serves over one thousand children and adults from across New York State and beyond with a staff that is specially trained.

With coronavirus sweeping New York in mass numbers, it has forced students of the special needs community to continue their education without the in-person help of The Center.  

“I follow the teacher’s structure. Ryan’s teacher sends me a weekly schedule to keep him on track. We Zoom twice a week, do worksheets and hands-on activities like baking or counting money,” Rachel explains.

She goes on to share some of the challenges.

“When he is having a challenging moment in school they can defer to the next specialist. I have to figure this out on my own. He has sensory outbursts and those can be difficult to combat especially since he is bigger and stronger than me,” Rachel says.  

If there is one word of advice that Rachel shares with others, it is patience.

“This is a waiting game for everyone, whether you’re a regular kid or a special needs kid. The overall goal though is to keep all these students on track, so they don’t fall behind and most importantly patience. Take one day at a time.”

The First-Ever Country-Wide Virtual Commencement Held for the Class of 2020

Lawrence, NY: Justin Vandewater, a senior at Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst, New York, has something in common with thousands of other teenagers across New York State and New York City: his senior year of high school has been completely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exterior of Lawrence High School. Cedarhurst, NY. Photo by: Devin Hance

“We are missing out on our prom and graduation, among many other things, which really sucks,” says Vandewater.

With live ceremonies, athletics and proms canceled, not only in New York but across the country, it sparked the opportunity for virtual events to honor the classes of 2020.  

Vandewater, his classmates and college students all over the U.S., tuned in to check out clips and speeches from virtual commencements from CNN’s Class of 2020: In This Together and LeBron James’ “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, both held on Saturday May 16th.

2020 graduates across the U.S. heard speeches and words of encouragement from former president Barack Obama, NBA All-Star Lebron James, Comedian Keegan-Michael Key and dozens of others.

Vandewater is the student government association (SGA) President of Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst, NY. He helps coordinate many of the events and functions in his local high school and the virtual commencements gave him and others hope for a brighter future.

Vandewater can list off more than just his graduation that him and his class of roughly two-hundred and fifteen students are missing out on. College tours, senior trips and athletics add on to the list of heartbreak.

For Vandewater, his love for lacrosse, a sport he spent over 7 years of his life playing, has sadly come to an abrupt end.

Vandewater having a toss with his lacrosse stick during quarantine. Photo by: Devin Hance

“Our season was slated to start a week after the school closure began. Our first game was supposed to be the last week of March. When we were just hoping the season would be shortened versus completely cancelled,” he explains.

The Lawrence boy’s lacrosse team have eight seniors that no longer will be able to participate in sports awards or a senior banquet.

Many seniors rely on film from their final season to be used to send to colleges in hopes to continue playing on a collegiate level.

“It helps with the recruitment process,” Vandewater explains.

“I’ll try out for Hofstra’s lacrosse team and hopefully I’ll make it but missing out on an entire season is a big loss.”

Although much has been put on pause, Vandewater is still hard at work as his school’s SGA president.

“Right now, the main focus is still graduation. I’ve been trying to push the idea for a field graduation. We want a traditional graduation and we have thought about virtually streaming it, but the school board hasn’t made a decision on approving that yet,” Vandewater says.

He plans to use the remainder of May to push for some sort of ceremony that will honor the seniors.

Although graduation may be out of his control, Vandewater is attempting to work on things that are within his control, like making sure every senior can walk away with a yearbook in hand by the official end to the school year.

“I’m trying to make everyone else feel better about all this, and one thing we are trying to do is fundraise about $22,500 to ensure every senior has a yearbook.”

Having a yearbook is a good way to look back on the good memories that were not taken away.

As far as Vadewater’s future plans, he hopes to be a freshman at Hofstra University by the Fall of 2020.

“I have been accepted into the business program, but I’d like to potentially switch into the engineering program at some point.”