“At the end of the day, we were told it would be our last, school was closing - I have just one question: what happens next?’

Ella Stock in lockdown

Ella Stock in lockdown - Credit: Archant

“Ask any student. Every day seems to be a chore, waking up at 6am, going to school, the first thing they would say is ‘I cannot wait to leave school’, but in those last moments, the last thing that I wanted to do was walk out of the school gates.” ELLA STOCK, aged 15, a student at Helena Romanes School in Great Dunmow, gives us a glimpse of teenage life when the world shuts down.

Ella Stock with her banner in support of keyworkers and NHS staff

Ella Stock with her banner in support of keyworkers and NHS staff - Credit: Archant

For me, the reality of how serious Covid-19 is became clear when Boris Johnson announced that there will be no GCSEs or A-levels to be taken this summer.

In that moment, I immediately felt a surge of worry, anger, and there were a million questions running through my head.

The past five years of hard work, the hundreds of hours of revision, the extra hours after school, the posters full of Shakespeare quotes and physics equations stuck on my bedroom wall.

They were all a waste. All I wanted to know was the answer to one simple question - What happens now?

My phone kept buzzing. Friends were asking the same questions: When would we have our last day, our leavers assembly, our prom?

We decided to take control of the last few days we had together, and make sure we ended year 11 positively.

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Helena Romanes sent out an email that there could possibly be a partial closure on Friday.

So, year 11s spread the message that the next day we would sign shirts, and enjoy our last full day together as a year.

At the end of the day, we were told it would be our last.

We had to accept what was happening and think of the future and how serious the situation of the coronavirus was becoming.

If we didn’t obey the rules and refrain from meeting friends and collecting in large groups, we were putting ourselves and the whole country at risk.

After what had been an emotional and challenging 24 hours, it seemed like there was now a strange void in my life and I needed to find ways to fill it. I’m sure every other student felt the same.

School work is still being set, with great importance for year 11 and 13, essays and past exam papers.

This is all in efforts to consolidate our predicted grades and to provide evidence to support these.

However, this work only fills a certain number of hours in the day.

Still, there is one silent killer to people’s mental health during lockdown - boredom.

What can we do during this next period of time? We don’t know how long, three weeks, six months? A year?

Every teenager is flicking between Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok and FaceTime, all in order to break what seems an endless cycle of waking up, going on our phones, eating, then back to sleep. What can we possibly do to bust the boredom?

To fill some of my time, I painted a banner,.

I wanted to say thank you to the NHS, who are working on the front line and actively fighting Covid-19 in desperation to save lives and restore normality.

And also to the key workers who are just as important working behind the scenes to ensure that the country still runs as it should do.

I encourage you, do something similar. Make a poster or a banner and put it in your window, hang it on the wall outside your house, flood Facebook and social media with thanks and praise of the NHS and key workers.

Everybody is eternally grateful for their hard work, not just in this time of crisis, but everyday.

I have been running, it’s been an excellent way to take my mind away from reality.

Yes I know running may not be for everyone, but a walk, a bike ride, or a home workout in the comfort of your own living room.

Exercise is a great way to release happy endorphins and boost your confidence, and it also passes the time.

Young Minds has a great website and amazing advice on how to protect your mental health during this pandemic and ways to relieve stress and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus.

Yes, this time is challenging, but together we will get through it. Year 11s, year 13s, the NHS, key workers, if we work together we will only come out stronger.

Ella is pictured with her banner. Send us photographs of yours and the stories behind them. Email: Angela.singer@archant.co.uk.