WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER
By Hope Roberts and Jevon Bolden
Hope Roberts is an eleven-year-old girl who loves science and dogs, and who just wants to save the world. Hope believes it’s always a good day to champion a cause and defend an underdog. And she believes, most of all, in dreaming big.
Since she started middle school, Hope has used her voice to make her school’s science club more inclusive and to rescue a local animal shelter. And this fall, she’s even running for class president!
But like everyone else, Hope’s summer wasn’t quite what she expected...
Hey, it’s me, Hope Roberts—future scientist, current activist, and mask-rocking, social-distancing master. It’s been a while since my last video journal. That’s because things have been really weird.
The year 2020 has been one for the books. I don’t even think Galaxy Girl’s biggest battles could come close to what summer has been like here on Earth. From a global pandemic to worldwide protests, and no school to virtual school in sixty seconds flat, so much has happened!
Everything started out normal. Well, normal for me, anyway. But then, a few weeks before spring break, news spread about a new strain of coronavirus called COVID-19. The virus was passing quickly from person to person. It’s like a cold or flu, but much worse. Things were not looking good.
Government officials, scientists, and healthcare experts began meeting to decide what to do. New health regulations were put in place. Brevard County, where I live, said no more than fifty people could meet indoors. When we were around other people, we had to make sure to stay six feet apart. Washing hands for a minimum of twenty seconds with soap (like we had always done in my house) became a new requirement.
Spring break came, and Marie and I had to cancel our plans with our friends. Sam wasn’t able to visit her Dad in Ohio, either. We were all bummed, but we knew staying home was one way we could play our part in turning things around.
Then one afternoon during spring break, Mom got a call from Ms. Reimer. She said that students wouldn’t be returning to JFK Middle right away. The same thing was happening at all the other schools in our district, too. They wanted to take some extra time to figure how to continue school while keeping us all safe.
Before long, Dad’s job told him to start working from home until further notice. Mom closed her gallery to visitors. Masks became mandatory at the grocery store and the pharmacy. Even leaving our house unless absolutely necessary wasn’t recommended under the new stay-at-home orders.
I wanted to do my part to flatten the curve. So I listened to the scientists on the news: I wore a mask and I stayed home as much as possible. If even one person’s life could be saved, it was worth the effort.
When school finally started again after our extended spring break, everything was different. We had to attend our classes online through video chat instead of in person. At first, it was hard to get used to. I like being able to talk with my friends or sneak them a funny look across the room. And we always encourage one another to speak up and give input in class discussions. How would we support one another now?
But once I started thinking about how much my friends and I have already been through together, I knew we would be able to rise up to meet this challenge, too.
Camila, Grace, and I decided to start a weekly online study group. We even texted each other sometimes during class when we knew one of us had the answer but was a little too shy to speak up. It was almost as good as being in real class together. And a few times, Mr. Gillespie even organized a virtual science club meeting, so I got to see Henry—and everyone else—too.
We finally made it to the last week of school. Sam and Lacy planned a virtual end-of-the-year party. We were all invited. Nothing beats celebrating in person, but we really made the most of it. We even had cupcakes thanks to Camila and the contactless house-to-house delivery service from her dad’s bakery.
Our teachers drove through town on the last day of school honking their horns in front of our houses and waving. I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing their faces in real life. I loved their parade. It made me proud to see how fast we all came together to end the school year safe and healthy.
Soon after school ended for the summer, we learned about the death of an unarmed Black man who had been killed by police in Minneapolis. His name was George Floyd. I sat at breakfast with my family as we watched the news.
It was all we could talk about for the next week. Mom and Dad spent a lot of time on the phone talking with their friends. I could hear them discussing joining the protests that immediately broke out around the country calling for police accountability in response to the injustice. A protest was being planned in Rockledge, a city nearby, for the next Saturday.
I believe that there is no better way to fix something that’s wrong than by doing something right. I texted my friend group chat and told everyone what was being planned. Then I told them about my idea: to make banners and signs to hand out to people at the protest. They all loved it! So we got to work.
On Saturday morning, everyone gathered at the designated meeting place. Sam and her mom came, and so did Grace’s and Camila’s family. There were so many people there, and I was glad to see so many of them wearing face masks. News reporters were on the scene. The police had blocked off the roads to keep the protesters safe.
We walked and waved our signs, shouting, “No justice, no peace.” Twenty-five hundred peaceful protesters marched a planned route. Some even held up the signs my friends and I had made.
Near the end of the route, a reporter stopped us and asked what we thought of the turnout. My mom spoke first. “It’s so good to see so many of our neighbors out here with us. Their presence restores my hope in what America can be.”
Then the reporter turned me. “You’re so young, out here with your parents. What do you think of all this?”
I was taken completely off guard. What could I say? I thought.
Then I thought of Mr. Floyd and his family—and all the other families of those who had been unjustly killed by police. So I spoke from the heart:
“You are never too young to be brave, use your voice, and stand up for what is right,” I said. “I’m thankful to be part of this protest. I hope that it sends the message that we will not tolerate it when others are mistreated.”
From pandemics to protests, this will be a year to remember. I know now, more than ever, that what we do in our individual lives impacts all of us as a whole. We are all connected, and each life is so precious. We have to keep an eye out for one another and do what we can to support those around us.
Well, I’m signing off for now. School is going to be a little different for all of us this year—whether we’re attending in person, online, or a combination of the two. It’ll be an adjustment, but whatever happens, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a happy, healthy, and positive school year with lots of new possibilities!
Check out Hope’s adventures in the first three books in the series from New York Times bestselling creators Alyssa Milano, Debbie Rigaud, and Eric S. Keyes!
Art © Eric S. Keyes