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The downside to the season of sharing

By Isabel Sullivan

“Noses run in the family,” history teacher Tony Manno says to his class, “especially in the winter time.”

The smell of gingerbread and the sound of caroling fills the air as do germs, the microscopic green monsters that infiltrate otherwise healthy bodies and conquer immune systems. It is the season of cheer but in classrooms, sniffles and coughs clutter sound waves.  Every year, many people succumb to a winter illness, whether it be a form of the common cold or the dreaded flu.

Junior Lily Vaughan has missed a day and a half of school due to illness. “Cough, cold, death feeling,” says Vaughan of her symptoms. She also admits to being much more critical than usual due to tiredness.

“I’m congested,” says junior Sidney Pang, who has also failed to resist illness this cold season. “When I go underwater, when I swim, I get pressure in my nose.”

English teacher Chris Carman’s classes go through three boxes of tissues a week. Librarian Kelly Gregor says, “Two boxes of tissues a week is pretty typical” for the media center.

Because the district does not supply tissues to classrooms, teachers often have to pay for the tissues out of their own pockets. “I pay the inflated prices at the convenience store on the corner,” Carman explains.

There are, however, ways to avoid winter illnesses. When asked how she has dodged illness this cold season, senior Sonia Xu replied, “I don’t hang out with people.” Friends and classmates often carry foreign germs, which can be detrimental to immune systems.

Junior Emily Beireis suggests that people avoid the outside world. “I mean, I’ve had a runny nose for a couple days,” admits Beireis, so her life indoors has not completely protected her body from bacteria. However, Beireis’s runny nose has not impaired her ability to enjoy the holidays. In fact, she confesses to having, “holiday spirit up the wazoo.”

Junior Stella Ding, who is not ill, advises students to “wash their hands all the time.” Germs are often carried from hands to faces, so keeping hands clean is a definite way to avoid illness.

Carman has not fallen ill this winter either. “I’m not ill and neither is my son,” says Carman. “We eat pretty well, we get plenty of sleep, and we exercise.”

Stay safe, Alameda.


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The Oak Leaf, a product of the journalism class, is a vehicle of student expression and a public forum for the Alameda High School community.