Showcase: Growing Up in a Pandemic

Our first Story Booth Capsule!

Our Story Booth partnership with filmmaker Maribeth Romslo is a new, simple, and simply amazing recording platform that captures true audio stories from youth voices. For this first Capsule, "Growing Up in a Pandemic", we invited storytellers 21 and under to share their personal thoughts and experiences from the heart of the pandemic. The stories range from tear-jerking tales of worry to triumphant social relationships and wacky isolation memories.

As you listen to these voices, you’ll remember a time that was fraught, but also a time when we found hope from a new perspective. As 7th grader Sara said in her recording: “There’s a whole year ahead of you and years after that. And you have your wonderful self, the one who made it through the year COVID struck the world.”

Thank you to all of our youth contributors, and a special shout out to the Minnesota State Arts Board for your support of this project.

Listen, reflect, and never forget…

Want to record a story?
We'd love to hear your perspective.

Sara // 7th grade

“There’s a whole other year ahead of you and years after that, and you have your wonderful self, the one who made it through the year COVID struck the world.”

JoJo // 9th grade

“As sad as it sounds, I went outside and played with trees. I was a big football kid. But what’s football without people to throw the ball to? So I used to throw the ball at trees, anything just to keep my mind off of the fact that I was alone.”

Sophia // 12th grade

“I’m so sorry your senior year is ruined. Bummer. Your last year in high school is online. It must suck to not be able to see anyone.”

Leigh // 11th grade

“Everyone else was watching the sunset from some other world adjacent to the one I occupied where they couldn’t see me. I didn’t want a sunset, but the sky was putting on a show.”

Jeffrey // 11th grade

“I was jolted awake by my phone’s alarm clock—set to 10 minutes before class began, to maximize sleeping time. With a wonderful dream cut short by the misgivings of online school, I lay in bed with my eyes awake but still closed, desperate for just another wink of sleep.”

Korron // 5th grade

“I got way bored, and then my friends wouldn’t answer their phone. Then I had to play all by myself. So I just drew and watched protests on TikTok.”

Sadie // 7th grade

“Here’s what time stopping meant. I stopped playing basketball. I stopped seeing my friends and sitting by them at lunch. I stopped sharing meals with my grandparents. I stopped going to the park. I stopped performing musical theater. I stopped being sure if we’d ever go back to school. I stopped caring about my appearance. I stopped feeling frantic.”

Ryan // 4th grade

“I realized that this is not going to be over soon. I’m not going to see my friends, my family, nothing. And when I realized it, I was heartbroken.”

Mia // 9th grade

“I wasn’t Ferris Bueller running around skipping class. I was in my bed, doing my work, telling myself to wait one more minute before joining the next Zoom class. It didn’t make sense, any of it.”

Frances // 7th grade

“The pandemic helped me to be more independent. I learned to do things more by myself. I made my own schedule, made my own lunch, made time to do homework, made time to have breaks, etc. Before I always had to ask my parents what was happening that day, but I learned how to ask myself for help.”

Julia // 8th grade

“I was doing alright until online school came. I mean, how bad could it be being in your house, being in your room staring at a computer? I was wrong.”

Jo // 7th grade

“I woke up at around one in the morning to my parents worried voices. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, I walked into their room and asked what they were saying. ‘We will explain it in the morning’, my mom said to me. I went to bed that night with a sore stomach, sweaty palms, and worried thoughts.”

Nithali // 9th grade

“As a biracial brown person, I knew about the injustices and police brutality towards minorities. But I never thought that anything like this would happen in Minneapolis.”

Max // 7th grade

“It felt like the world was shutting down. Because of coronavirus, my birthday was my last day in person at my elementary school. Everything changed.”

Serenity // 5th grade

“When we came back to school, we had to wear a mask. If we wanted to play a game or something like that it was hard because we would be out of breath.”

Makia // 9th grade

“I developed my own opinion instead of just doing whatever anyone else was doing. I researched stuff before I actually wanted to say something about it.”

Abby // 2nd grade

“My seventh birthday was during the pandemic. I did not have a normal birthday because of COVID. Instead, I had a mini birthday in my backyard.”

Grace // 8th grade

“The friendships I had that weren’t true, I lost, but the ones that were genuine grew stronger than ever before.”

Julianna // 8th grade

“I never would have thought that my first division from others would be my skin color. I woke up to the news playing downstairs. I ran to see what was going on, to be met by a familiar name on the screen. George Floyd was pronounced dead by police brutality on May 25 2020.”

Jaden // 8th grade

“The last year for me and for many people was a difficult one, not just because of the pandemic, but because of the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. It really brought an awareness to police brutality here in the United States for many people who were unaware of the abuses that were taking place for many, many years.”

Ruben // 12th grade

“I found an obsession during this time, something to take my mind off of all the boredom around me. And I got obsessed with music. I relaxed in the strange yet suddenly common state of solitude that the world offered me.”

Anastasia // 6th Grade

“The pandemic helped me be creative with my art. I started just doing digital art and started to paint again too.”

Cash // 8th grade

“The last couple of days we were in school, it was like there was no one there.”

Nolan // 8th grade

“When I got to my new school, I wasn’t able to see half my classmates because the school was split up. And guess whose fault it was? Yep. COVID.”

Abby // 11th grade

“I realized I’d compartmentalized everything. I thought only in logical terms — this is the way things are, this is what I have to do. I had to keep moving, keep working. I couldn’t control what was going on in the world, but I could keep control over my life. I never processed what I lost.”

Angela // 11th grade

“Until quarantine, I never looked inwards and saw the hole in my heart.”

Christyn // 11th grade

“Through it all, the struggles and mental health dips, the breakdowns in the seemingly endless, endless zoom classes…There was always a story to tell and a story to read. The stories were no longer an optional escape from the sci-fi reality we called the pandemic.”


Harley // 5th grade

“Having to wear a doctor’s mask in a store. It’s not that bad. Not as bad as having lives at stake.”

Obinna // 10th grade

“In a city that was once known as the city that never sleeps, it is almost as if the city has now fallen to rest.”


Story Booth is a fiscal year 2021 and 2022 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.