Students celebrate birthdays in quarantine


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Smiling at the camera, Madyson Groves and Gretchen Otter celebrate around a picnic table for Otter’s 18th birthday on April 7. Groves also helped in putting together a video and birthday parade for Otter.

Imagine one of your past birthday celebrations. A group of family and friends gathered around while you prepare to blow out candles on your birthday cake. With the stay at home order and encouragement to social distance, such celebrations were not possible for some students this year. Seniors Gretchen Otter and Becca Meyer celebrated their birthdays in quarantine with the help of family and friends.
Upon realizing that she would be spending her 18th birthday in quarantine, Otter said she was devastated. Since the pandemic had already taken her job, the choir trip to Disney World, the play she was directing and graduation, she was hoping to have a fun celebration for her special day.
“Once the stay at home order went into place, I realized that wouldn’t be a possibility,” Otter said. “Since this birthday was a benchmark for my ‘adulthood,’ I had been looking forward to it for a long time. It is one of those birthdays that feels really special and exciting.”
Alongside Otter, Meyer, who turned 18 on March 28, said she was upset about being restricted by the quarantine on her special day.
“I couldn’t celebrate with all of the people I wanted to, but I still managed to have fun,” Meyer said. “I was initially going to have a backyard party with lots of friends, but I couldn’t due to the order.”
Against all odds, Otter said that her birthday ended up being the most special celebration she had ever had. Her day started off like any other birthday but turned into an outdoor picnic set up by her best friend and the rest of her family.
“While staying six feet apart, we enjoyed lunch together. Mady (Groves) then showed me a video she and a couple of others put together. A bunch of my friends from all over sent kind words, memories, and wishes, which she then put into one video. In addition to all of this, they put together a ‘birthday parade’, in which friends came and pulled up to my house in their cars,” Otter said. “I didn’t expect to see any of them that day, so it was really considerate. Especially since they had been planning the surprise for a while, it was fantastically executed.”
While Meyer did not get to spend her birthday as she wished, her family and friends made her birthday special by getting her gifts. Because of the stay at home order, Meyer said that people found other ways to wish her a happy birthday.
“Social media had a big part in my birthday this year since people couldn’t tell me in person. Instead, they posted about me and reminded me that people were still thinking of me during this time,” Meyer said.
Despite not being the typical 18th birthday, Otter said that her day was everything a good birthday should be, making her feel special and loved. In fact, occurring in the midst of a global pandemic made her birthday feel like more of a celebration.
“With this whole terrible endeavor the world is subject to, I find myself more and more grateful every day of the things I used to take for granted,” Otter said. “While I would have loved to have a traditional party with all of my friends and family to celebrate, they still made it the best day it could be.”