I've always felt that it is very important for young students to learn how to express themselves in many ways. Over the last few years, I've worked with Devon on a number of extracurricular writing assignments and last December we started the writing assignment that has led to the creation of this book!!!!
I chose to have Devon write about his experiences, over the last year, for three reasons. 1) I wanted him to learn how to be a good writer. 2) I wanted him to learn how to take on a rather large challenge by taking small steps forward. 3) I wanted him to realize that although our lives have changed in many ways, we have continued to deal with all of these changes in many positive ways.
Our plan was to print around 35 copies of his book to share with his family, friends, neighbours and his classmates. However, now that I've seen the result, another thought has entered my mind. I'm thinking about sending a few copies of his book to a few publishers who specialize in children's books. I think that other kids, around the world, could benefit from reading this, as it would inspire them to realize that they are not alone! I believe that Devon's book could help other children. I'm going to offer this work to any publisher who feels the same way and would like to publish and print this book for distribution. Devon and I have agreed that if there were to be any profits made on his book that they should be donated to a children's mental health organization to further benefit any children struggling to cope with this pandemic. If this happens, I'll be sure to add a footnote to this post, to share that success!!
So... I've spoken for long enough... It's time to enjoy Devon's book.... please enjoy!!!!
It was New Years Eve 2019. My mom, my dad and I drove downtown to the skating rink in Victoria Park.
2020 began like most years…
It was a week into the new year when I had an afternoon play date with four of my friends: Owen, Sam, Judah and Casen. We went to Fleetway Bowling.
We chose to play in the jungle gym first. It had four levels with slides, stairs and obstacles. Then, we were hot so we went to Dairy Queen to get ice cream and burgers. Dairy Queen was right next to Fleetway. Last, we went to the arcade to play air hockey. It was me and my friends vs. my dad. We had a blast!
I hoped I would see my friends again soon, but all of that changed…
The first I heard of Covid-19 was in February. That was when my mom, my dad and I heard on the news that people are stopping sport leagues like basketball, baseball and hockey. They closed sports arenas to prevent there being crowds of people close to each other.Two weeks later, we heard that airports were closing and planes were being grounded, to stop people from other countries coming into Canada. Canadians were told to come back to Canada if they were in another country. They had to quarantine for two weeks once they arrived back in Canada.
A pandemic means that there is an outbreak of a disease that can spread all over the planet.
Quarantine means that someone has to stay home for two weeks. They are not allowed to go to stores. However, they can go to parks and other places that are outside and that are not around other people. To get food they would have to ask a friend or a family member to bring them food.
Social distancing means that two people are staying two meters or six feet apart from each other.
Soon after, schools were making March Break longer. Then I heard a new word… it was the word lockdown. A lockdown is a time when all businesses are closed except for stores that sell food and medicine.
People in a lockdown have to stay home. Even my swimming and music classes were cancelled! My mom became very concerned when she had to close her dog grooming business.
A lockdown can happen in a town, city, province or even within a whole country! At this time, it was all of Canada that did the lockdown.
Then I learned two more new phrases. The phrases were: essential worker and frontline worker.
An essential worker is a worker that is needed… like a truck driver drives food trucks to the store, then the shelf stockers put food up in the shelves. When people get the food on the shelves they go to the cashier to pay for the food.
My dad is also an essential worker because he drives people in wheelchairs to the doctor for their doctor’s appointment.
An example of a front line worker would be a doctor or a nurse. At this time doctors are working directly with people who have the virus. Their job is very serious and they have to take many precautions to make sure they don’t get sick.
In March and April at 7:30pm people would say thanks to the front line workers by singing, playing music, making noise and banging pots and pans. When I was doing it, we would make videos where I would play my ukulele and my dad would hold a sign I made saying ‘stay home’… to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Covid-19 is a very unique and deadly virus. My parents wanted to show me that there are millions of viruses and bacteria and most of them are harmless. So they had me watch a video on YouTube. The video showed me that most of the viruses and bacteria that surround us aren’t harmful.
Did you know that there are millions of viruses and bacteria in the world?? They are found in the air, in water and even in the soil! Did you know that there are thousands of bacteria in our bodies and that many of them actually help your digestive system?? Did you know that people use bacteria to make certain types of food like cheese, soya sauce, yogurt and pickles??
My mom wanted me to understand that there are tons of viruses and bacteria and we should not be afraid of most of them. We talked about our body’s immune system and how it fights off germs, viruses and bacteria.
At the beginning of April it was Easter. Usually at Easter we would have an egg hunt at Boler Mountain. Sometimes we would go to see my cousins, Ayden and Akira.
But this time, because of Covid-19, the Boler Mountian egg hunt was cancelled and we didn’t go to visit my cousins. I did get to have one Easter egg hunt… in my own backyard and it was still fun!
I also got a few Easter cards from some relatives. Some cards had money in them. My mom suggested that I use the money to buy myself a tablet for me to talk to my friends on the app Kids Messenger. Sometimes I would call my friends. Sometimes I would text them. And sometimes I would call them and play Roblox at the same time. I missed seeing my friends at school, so I really enjoyed being able to talk to them on my tablet.
Since school was closed, my teacher Mrs. Garrod had to start teaching the class with online assignments. Mostly, we did English and Math projects.
For English class I would write stories. Sometimes we would watch videos of someone reading a story. Then we would have to answer questions about the story.
In math we learned about area and perimeter. My favorite project was where I had to create a robot using grid paper. After I drew my robot, I had to find the area of each body part of the robot.
Since my dad is an artist he suggested that I add more things to my drawing to make it look better. I added a background with trees, a hill, a sun and even a rocket ship! My dad also had me write the area of each of those things in the background.
After I finished this drawing I gave it to my Opa because it was his birthday. He loves it!
And speaking of birthdays… I had another surprise for my Opa! We decided that we would go to their house and I could play Happy Birthday on my ukulele.
When we got to their house, we could not hug or kiss and we could not go inside their house. So we stayed outside and I played my ukulele. Everyone was singing Happy Birthday. My Opa loved it!
Because the weather was getting nicer, my dad and I started to work in the garden. I have been working in our gardens since I was very young. My dad always says that if he could only teach me one thing, it would be to learn how to grow vegetables and flowers.
In the spring, I help my dad to plant seeds, small plants and flowers. Through the summer, I help picking berries and vegetables. My dad also likes to help out at my school in the butterfly garden my Senior Kindergarten teacher started, a few years ago.
Usually, once or twice a year, he would come to my class and talk to us about the importance of growing vegetables and flowers and we learned about the importance of pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
Then he would take us outside to the school butterfly garden. We were all gardening! Some people would pick weeds. Some people would pick pine cones out of the garden and some would help plant flowers.
But this year... schools were closed! Luckily, I had an idea! I asked my dad if we could go there and garden by ourselves. So that is what we did. We watered the garden and we planted flowers. We even planted a Rose of Sharon bush.
Soon, some businesses were opening back up again. My mom’s dog grooming business was one of them. My mom had to work many long shifts. My dad couldn’t go to work because I can’t be alone. He did not quit his job; instead he took a leave of absence. I liked that because me and my dad have a lot of fun together.
Soon my dad’s birthday was coming up. We had a huge party planned because he was turning the big 50!! There was going to be friends from all over the area. But because of Covid-19 the party was cancelled.
But my mom had a great idea. She took all of the money for foods and drinks, and she used that money to buy a kayak for all of us to ride in. The next day we decided to take our first ever kayak ride.
After a lot of kayak rides, my dad suggested that I start to do the paddling. After a few kayak rides with me paddling I started to get the hang of it. My dad enjoyed it when I did the paddling because then he could just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Soon after, the government was allowing people to see some of their friends again but still was not allowing people to have huge parties. I liked that because I missed seeing my friends. Once, I went to the splash pad with my friends Sam and Owen. Owen also brought his brother Leo and his sister Margo.
Then I had a play date with my friend Casen at Sharon Creek. I would usually have one play date every week.
My favorite get together of the summer was a three night camping trip with my cousins, Ayden and Akira. We had a lot of fun. All of the food we ate was cooked over a fire. Ayden brought his laser tag set to play at night time.
During the day, we went swimming in the big waves and kayaking in a huge pond. We made sand sculptures on the beach and we even played soccer.
Getting together with my friends are my favourite memories from the summer.
A week later my neighbour Lynn, was having her birthday. She wanted to include everyone on the street in her birthday party.
But because of Covid-19, people couldn’t go to her house and party. Instead, people sat on their lawn chairs on their front lawns. Since we live beside Lynn, we let people bring their chairs and sit down at the end of our driveway.
She had hired comedians and musicians. The musicians played funny songs and the comedians made up funny stories.
My favourite story the comedians made up was where they had to switch turns for each word that they said. It was very funny because they had to think fast for the next word in the sentence that they were making up.
It was a great way to include everyone at the party.
Hair salons and barber shops were the last businesses to reopen. Before they opened my dad and I had shaggy hair. My mom remembered that she had electric clippers. My dad gave me my hair cut. He got the hang of it after a few minutes… and he kept saying, “don’t worry, that’ll grow back!”
My mom did most of my dad’s haircut but we took a funny photo with me pretending to do his haircut.
One of the funniest videos I saw in the summer was ‘Speaking Moistly’!! Speaking Moistly is a song that someone created by taking bits and pieces from one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speeches and turning it into a song.
Even though the song is very funny it still has a good message. The video is trying to show you that people need to start social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks to stop the spread of Covid19.
Throughout the summer I hardly ever had to wear a mask!! This was because I didn’t go to stores that often. When I did go to stores I would have to wear a mask. Most of the time I would be at home, at parks, or splashing in the waves at a nearby beach.
At the beginning of September my parents and I were getting me ready to go back to school. I was so excited to be able to see my friends again and play soccer with them at recess. Because I only had two masks, my parents bought me a whole bunch more. Then I began what my dad called ‘mask training’ to make sure my masks were comfortable.
Yay! I was finally ready for school… but school wasn’t ready for me. The schools needed more time to get things organized, so it started two weeks later than normal.
The first week of school we didn’t learn the normal stuff like Math, Science or even French. Instead we were learning about how to be safe from the corona virus.
The first week was also kind of different because the school’s plan was to split the classes into two groups. The first two days of school one group attended. The next two days, the other group attended. But Friday the whole class was there.
This year of school, I was in the port-a-pack. We had to create a new routine. We were only allowed to go to the bathroom, wash our hands for 20 seconds and fill our water bottles, at lunch break.
When I got home, I would have a shower, put on new clothes and I would wash my masks.
This year I had Gorjan Stjepanovic as my teacher. He was new to Byron Northview Elementary School. He knew that his name was hard to say so he let us call him Mr. S. Mr. S was very funny but he was also very serious about his students being kind and respectful to other people.
Mr. S would always find fun ways to do things. At recess, instead of having everyone go outside at the same time, he would say stuff like, “If you are wearing red shoes you may enjoy your recess,” or, “If you have black hair you may go outside.” One time I was wearing my blue mask with a silly mouth sticking its tongue out. He said, “If you are sticking your tongue out at me you may go outside for recess.” Mr. S is a really cool guy and he makes learning lots of fun!
In the middle of October my parents began making plans for my birthday. Usually, I would have 11 or 12 friends come to my party. Sometimes we would go to Palisad for my birthday and sometimes the Boys And Girls Club. But this time we couldn’t have any of that happen!!
This year, I only got to have two friends come over. Those two friends were Judah and Casen.
In the first half an hour Judah came over to my house. We played videogames, built with my Lego and had a snack.
Next, when Casen came over, we started to open the presents! First I opened Judah’s present. He got me a learning card game and a puzzle that comes with a book. Then I opened Casen’s present. Casen got me a ‘3 in 1’ Lego set.
Then we all left to go to Appleland!!!! When we were there we decided to climb the sand hill, go through the tubes of the sand hill, listen to the chicken songs and go on a tractor ride. But for some reason we could never get the chickens to tell any jokes. While we were on the sand hill my dad went to pick some apples. It was a lot of fun!
Then we took my friends home. Right when I thought it was over, my parents surprised me with a sleep over at my friend Owen’s house.
When we got there, Owen and I played the video game Sock Puppet. Before we went to bed, we started to watch Avengers Age of Ultron. The funniest thing happened that night… I got woken up by Owen’s cat Coco! She went in the room and sat right on my face!! Ha! Ha!!
When we both woke up, we watched the rest of the movie Age of Ultron. Then after breakfast, we had cake!!!!!!!! The cool thing about it was that it had a picture of me and Owen at an Earth Day event on it! Then we played videogames until it was time for me to go back home.
When I got home, my neighbour Kelly gave me a GT snow racer. Auntie Kelly always remembers my birthday!!
At first I thought this would be the worst birthday… but it turns out it was the best birthday that I have ever had in my life!!
A week later, it was Halloween!! This year, I decided to be Darth Vader! Every year we would have a Halloween party at school. But we can’t wear Halloween masks that cover your whole face. That is why my parents got me a Darth Vader Covid mask for my birthday. It only covered my nose and mouth.
Usually, my mom and I would go around the neighborhood getting candy and my dad would give out candy, at our house. But this year it was even better! I had a sleepover at Casen’s house and I got to go ‘Trick or Treating’ with him and his dad.
Because of Covid-19, people had to find different ways to hand out candy. Some people would drop candy from windows, some would throw candy down tubes and my Opa used a CLAW ARM! My parents set up a table at the end of our driveway and they put our Jack’o’Lanterns on the table to keep the tablecloth from blowing off. The candies and chocolate bars were spread out over the table.
Before we went to bed, Casen and I watched the movie Caroline. It was a very creepy claymation movie... very appropriate for Halloween!!
Soon, the weather got colder and colder. One day, I woke up and there was snow on the ground!! That meant that we could finally go skating at Victoria Park! Last year, we went there almost every weekend. This year… only once.
With the coming of the ice and snow, we all knew that Christmas would soon be here. But before Christmas, there were always lots of community events.
Last year we were involved in the Hyde Park Santa Clause Parade!!!! Since we were driving the Happy Tails’ van, we had to make it more Christmas looking. That is why my mom put reindeer antlers on the Van. While my mom was driving, my dad followed behind playing Hear Comes Santa Claus on my ukulele.
But this year, the parade was canceled because of Covid-19!
Then there is The Christmas Train. It travels all across Canada to get donations of canned food for local food banks... and they always have musicians to entertain people. Last time we saw it, The Sam Roberts Band played music on The Christmas Train!!! It was a great show! They would play one of their songs and then they would play a Christmas song. This year there was no Christmas Train.
Because my family still wanted to donate canned food to help others in need, my parents went on a special shopping trip. They spent just over $50.00 and filled up four shopping bags with pastas, spaghetti sauces, beans, rice and lots of canned fruit. Then they took them to My Sister’s Place in downtown London. My Sister’s Place is somewhere women can go to get extra food for their family.
I think the thing that upset people the most was that the schools’ Christmas Concerts were cancelled all across Ontario... and probably the whole country! Usually the schools would have a Christmas Concert. The parents really enjoy it because they get to see their child dress up like an Elf, and sing Christmas songs. But because of the Corona Virus, there was no concert because people were not allowed to gather in huge crowds.
Holy Cow!! There sure were a lot of Christmas events being cancelled!! During this time, I was a bit worried that Christmas was going to be cancelled!
The fact that my parents and I continued getting our house ready for the special day showed me that Christmas was not going to be cancelled and this made me very happy!!
Christmas this year didn’t really change for us; it was almost the same as most years. We opened presents and cards in the morning and my mom made a super yummy breakfast even though I had already eaten a Christmas cookie!! We watched a movie that I got for a present… the Lego Ninjago Movie, went tobogganing and then warmed up with some hot chocolates and played some new board games!
After that we had a super, fantastic dinner and enjoyed our evening together as a family!!
The next day (Boxing Day) a whole new Lockdown began to stop the spread of Covid-19. The Government only allowed people to go outside if they were going for a walk, going to work, going shopping, getting medications or going to the hospital if you’re injured or sick.
Even though, people were supposed to stay home, we still decided to go visit my Auntie Sandra, Oma and Opa because we hadn’t seen then in a long time and we had a Christmas gift for them. Our visit was only 30 minutes long and we had to wear our masks. We stayed on one side of the living room and they stayed on the other side, so we could social distance.
Usually we all sit around a big table and enjoy a meal together, but this time we just talked about stuff and opened a few gifts.
I got three Minecraft chapter books and some money to pay for my piano classes. My mom got presents for her dog grooming business. The presents were ‘Welcome’ signs for people to see when they walk into her store. There is one for each season.
Before we left, Opa gave me a Christmas cake.
Soon, it was my cousin Akira’s Birthday! Because we could not go visit other people, we had to have a video chat with them. I was expecting it to just be Akira, Ayden, their dad and mom. But instead, it was better. It was a video chat with them, Akira’s uncle and his wife, Akira’s grandparents and us.
After we all sang Happy Birthday, Akira opened her cards and gifts! It was a lot of fun!
After Winter Break, school was starting!! But this time, because of the lockdown, we had online schooling. It was pretty easy, actually. All we had to do was click on a link in Google Classroom to join a video chat. Mr. S would talk with us as we answered questions. It was fun to see all my friends on a computer screen and we all hoped that we’d be able to see each other in person soon.
My favourite thing about online schooling is that I have the comfort of my home. Most of the time, I would sit at the dining room table, but whenever there was a video to watch, I would lie down on my bed, and get comfy with my pillows and stuffies.
At school for recess, I would play with my friends in the playground. But, because of online schooling, my parents needed a way to give me fresh air and exercise. So, whenever my mom was home, we would go for a walk through the neighborhood. And whenever my dad was home, I would do a video workout on YouTube.
A really good thing about recess was that I got to enjoy warmer foods like; soup, spaghetti or noodles. So, online schooling is good in some ways… like enjoying warm food during my breaks!
Last winter, before the pandemic came to Canada, I was allowed to have indoor play dates with my friends. We’d go to Palasad or to Fleetway where they have a huge indoor playground.
But this winter, we were in lockdown so I couldn’t spend time with my friends. My parents still wanted me to have a lot of fun on the weekends, so they decided that we would go on adventures every Sunday.
The first time, we went for a walk by a river to see a huge gathering of Gizzard Shad fish. I couldn’t believe how many fish I saw!! They were gathered together in one part of the Thames River, near London’s downtown.
The next Sunday, we went skating on a frozen pond. It was my first time walking on water!! It was a twenty minute car ride to Dorchester where the Mill Pond is.
A week later, we went to Mystery Falls to see a frozen waterfall. First, we had to go on a hiking trail to get there. The coolest thing about the frozen waterfall was that we got to walk behind the water and we found a cool cliff that the water went over… when it wasn’t frozen.
Another weekend adventure we went on was to Port Stanly to see a frozen lake. When we got there, we saw a bunch of crunched up pieces of ice along the shore. We wondered what caused it. It didn’t take us long until we could solve this mystery…
First, we heard lots of very loud cracking noises in the ice. After a few minutes, all of the ice started moving towards the shore, breaking itself into pieces. I guess we figured out what caused it.
These trips showed me the cool side of nature.
In the first week of February, school was beginning again. Just like before, we had to wear masks. It was almost the exact same routine that we had when school started.
In September, we were allowed to take off our masks at recess and lunch break. This time, we have to wear our masks at recess. I kind of wish we could take off our masks at recess, because my face gets really hot and sweaty.
I was glad to be back in school and see my friends again… in person. Life was slowly but surely turning back to normal.
Soon after, I was going to my after school piano classes again. And the next week, my friend Judah and I started an after school gymnastics class.
Then, my mom’s dog grooming business re-opened and my dad was able to work more shifts at his job.
Is this the end of Covid-19?I would like to think so, but my dad tells me that we will be dealing with it for at least another year. He explained to me how viruses can change and how there are new forms of Covid-19, spreading across the world. We will soon have to deal with these new strains of the virus.
He also explained how vaccines are used to keep people safer and how all countries around the world are now in the process of vaccinating everyone. This will help get rid of the virus… but it will take a very long time.
So, until everyone is vaccinated, we should all continue to do what doctors have been telling us to do for the last year…
Wear a mask when in large groups, keep a distance away from people when you can, keep washing your hands many times throughout the day, and cough into your elbow.
And my personal advice to people who are reading this book is to be creative, listen to music, be inspiring, spend time outside and enjoy Nature, stay connected with your friends, have fun and enjoy life!
About The Author
Devon James Kogelheide was born in 2011 in London, Ontario! Devon loves to play his piano and ukulele, draw and write stories. He gets a lot of his inspiration from Nature and he loves to go camping and kayaking in parks throughout Southern Ontario.
If you ever drop by Byron Northview Elementary School you may see him planting flowers in the school’s butterfly garden.