Social Distancing Offers a Gift of Free Time

Catherine Smith, Advertising Manager & Social Media Director

Sounds of laughter come from the house’s open window, filling the quiet street with noise as a family activity brings enjoyment to members inside. With plenty of free time, students, teachers and families are finding new ways to spend the day by starting new hobbies, developing personal interests and spending time together.

Early morning murmurs of conversation come from the sidewalk when Liberty High School senior Leilah Blue goes on neighborhood walks with her family and dog Olive. She said when she gets outside in the fresh air and exercises, it is “like a mental check-up on myself to make sure I don’t go crazy with my three brothers all the time.”

Spending time with her family is something Fauquier High School junior Reagan Smith has wanted to do for a while, “I wish I hadn’t put it off for so long.” One activity that has brought them closer is playing board games. Shouts of “I win” end an intense game with her brothers. 

Athletes are working out to stay in shape for next season. FHS junior Caity Cummins runs in her neighborhood by herself  to condition for track and field. “Being stuck inside all day with nowhere to go can be a drag, so why not make the best of it,” said Cummins.  

Meanwhile, without access to school weight room equipment, FHS freshman Peyton Hagarty created a bench made of wood on two chairs for a dumbbell bench press. “I try to keep a schedule as if I was at school normally. I get up at 5:45, workout until 7 and then go about my day. This makes me feel more successful,” said Hagarty. 

Puzzles, sewing, baking, playing instruments and photography are other ways students are spending their time. Walking outside to photograph the sunrise and sunset is LHS junior Adam Moore’s way to “feel relieved of the stress of the world with the ongoing virus.” 

Superintendent of Schools David Jeck’s home workshop is filled with the loud sounds of woodworking machines as he creates a sofa table. Even though he is busy with county decisions, he still carves out time to enjoy his hobby. 

Others take on tasks that have been lingering on their to-do lists like FHS boys’ lacrosse head coach J.B. Tippett. Constantly working on projects, he has been busy building a picnic table, putting in a garden and cleaning out the garage. “I miss the grind of preparing for games, so occupying my time has been helpful,” said Tippet.

Some teachers like Brumfield art teacher Jessica Beach find a new calling as You-Tubers to spread cheer. A happy voice greets students as she begins her weekly “Draw along with Ms. Beach” featuring Brumfield themed art topics. She started the YouTube channel for elementary aged students to stay connected, but the positive feedback keeps her recording.

The sewing machine’s drone frequently fills the home of Pat Johnson, Taylor Middle School instructional technology resource teacher, as she spends her time sewing pillows and table runners for her side business, Shark Bait Designs. “I upcycle swim trunks and Aloha shirts into household items.” With her leftover material, she quilts and makes face masks for friends and family. 

Laughter comes from the kitchen table where FHS sophomore Haley Salsbury and her mother bond over arts and crafts. Her advice is to “take advantage of this free time to go outside and explore nature or find projects to do at home. Not everything is about hanging out with your friends or going places.”