Christopher’s stuck at home, but he is upbeat

Choosing Jeppe as his high school was easy for Christopher Walker. He was at Bedfordview Primary School last year, so Jeppe was one of the closest schools, and there was a family connection – his grandfather was a Jeppe boy. Quite a few of his friends had decided on Jeppe too, and that helped.

“What really made me want to come to Jeppe was the school’s ethos. I had heard about the school traditions, the spirit and the Jeppe brotherhood,” he said. “I had no doubt that this is where I wanted to be and I’m not sorry.”

The first term of 2020 was a good one, Christopher said. He was doing well in class – getting above 80% in a number of subjects and averaging in the 70s, and he was playing tennis for the school tennis team – hovering between the 2nd and third teams and enjoying his time at school.

“I saw it as a fresh start, a great way to begin the new decade and I was looking forward to playing squash in the second term.”

Then Covid-19 struck and Christopher, along with all his school mates, was sent home. He is still there, more than 100 days later.

“It wasn’t at all what we expected, and we thought it was going to be for three weeks only. It’s gone on and on, however, and I am really looking forward to it ending and us slowly getting back to normal life,” he said.

Christopher is quite upbeat and cheerful about it all. “I do get sad from time to time that I can’t see me friends and that we as a family can’t do the things we used to do, but there is a lot to be grateful about too,” he said.

As someone who has always taken his schoolwork seriously, Christopher appreciates the trouble that the school has taken to keep the academic programme going. “Every Monday I go onto the portal and download our programme for the week and I fill it in on my calendar. Then it’s about three or four hours of school work a day. One and a half hours is in the online classrooms where the teachers present the topics and then it’s two hours of completing the work assignments. It’s given me a routine and I am enjoying it.”

Christopher realises that not everyone is as fortunate as he is. “We have uncapped data at home, so I can take advantage of the online teaching. I know some boys struggle to have enough data and that at many schools around the country online teaching is not possible at all.”

That realisation is one of the things that the lockdown has taught Christopher. “We often take things for granted. Now I am more aware of the poverty and inequality that exists in the country and I am more grateful for what I’ve got,” he said.

Christopher’s parents are both back at work, so it’s his responsibility to look after his younger brother. “He keeps me busy and I do get some physical activity running around the garden with him and playing soccer,” he said.

Other than that his time is taken up with video games and television, and communicating with his friends via the various messaging apps. “We have regular Zoom calls with the rest of our family and I spend a lot of time together with my parents.

The school has also gone to a lot of trouble to reach out to the boys and keep them involved. “There have been cultural activities online, and a physical training programme. So even though we aren’t there, we are still part of Jeppe,” Christopher said.

“I’m positive, I think. I know this pandemic isn’t going to last forever and we will be back at school one day. I’ve had enough of being at home all day, but I’m not letting it get me down.”

We are all looking forward to the day we can welcome Christopher and the rest of the grade 8 boys back to Good Hope Street.