Umatilla Elementary students share coronavirus pandemic experiences in new book

Kids wanted to make sure people did not forget COVID-19

UMATILLA, Fla. – What started out as a first day of school exercise, turned into a month’s long project, resulting in a book called, “Through Their Eyes.”

The book was written by the students at Umatilla Elementary School, sharing their personal experiences during the pandemic.

“It is hard for my family to think that people are losing everything in life. I am sorry for them and people are dying every single day. There are a lot of cases around the world and that is sad. At my house, we are safe and careful,” A fifth-grade student named Rihanna wrote.

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Loretta Vroman, the Media Specialist who works in the library at the school, said the book’s passages highlight how perceptive kids are about what’s happening in the world around them.

Vroman is the woman who made the book possible. She said it was never meant to be a book, but rather a welcoming exercise for kids on the first day of school.

Instead of discussing summer vacations and what the kids did on break, knowing that there was a lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she had them write about their experiences during that time.

Vroman said from that point on, the kids worked to edit their stories and get them ready for the book she planned to create for them.

It was an idea that the principal of the school, Dianne Dwyer, said she was excited about.

Dwyer said, after the students had documented their stories, they wanted to save them for future students.

And thus, a time capsule was created to be opened in 20 years.

Dwyer described its contents as items specific to the pandemic — masks, a UV light for sanitizing, social distancing markers, and, of course, the book.

“They were concerned that people in the future will not know what happened. Many times I’ve been asked, what if people forget? How can we make sure people don’t forget,” Vroman said,

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.