This article was originally published by KQED and YR Media

Thanksgiving is here officially kicking off the holiday season. Magic is often in the air. For me, this feeling isn’t just isolated to today or the holidays. I experience this aura year round bonding with my friends at my high school.

But not this year.

Right now, I miss my high school community. I miss the campus traditions. Every year at my school the graduating class takes a hike together and marks their graduating year on the edge of a mountain in all-purpose flour — visible for the entire school year.

As a high school senior, this year it was my turn. Since 2017, I have gazed up at this mountain eager to leave 2021 up there.

Waiting for this moment has encouraged me. When I wanted to give up because English class was difficult or I was too tired because History class kept me awake late at night with homework, I was pushing through knowing that my turn was coming.

But with school being online, everything I had in mind for my senior year is gone and I can’t stop wishing that I was back in school and enjoying it with my friends.

Instead we are dealing with crazy amounts of homework, faulty internet connections and rushed teaching explanations. My mind has been racing to understand concepts in math and physics that are already difficult to understand in a traditional year.

We are forced to be in front of a computer for five hours a day. It’s not the teachers’ faults. They are trying their best.

While it has been a journey to adapt on Zoom, I know this is the best solution given the danger of school and COVID-19. As I reflect on this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that my family is healthy but I can’t forget everything that I’ve missed out on during quarantine — all the high school traditions and upper class men rituals that give meaning to my life as a student.

I am making it work — trying to learn complex concepts from a distance. But the one thing I think about every day is that bare, undecorated hill.

With a Perspective, I am Pratham Dalal.