The end of ‘normal’: Temple students share last photos before COVID-19

From birthday parties to volleyball, students remember last memories before the pandemic.

Nicholas Salerno, fourth from the left, poses with his friends at his 18th birthday party on March 15, 2020. | NICHOLAS SALERNO / COURTESY

One year ago today, Temple University’s domestic campuses began online learning, which continued through the end of the semester, according to an announcement from President Richard Englert. 

Just days before, Philadelphia declared its first case of COVID-19 on March 10, 2020.

The next day, Temple announced all domestic campuses would end in-person instruction on March 13, 2020 — the same day the World Health Organization officially categorized COVID-19 as a global pandemic. 

Gov. Tom Wolf began implementing statewide closures of all nonessential businesses to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16, 2020. This meant in addition to no longer physically being on campus, Temple students, along with Philadelphia and Pennsylvania residents, saw their hometowns and city streets closed. 

COVID-19 almost instantly changed the lives of Temple students in March 2020. The Temple News asked nine students what they were doing on their last day before schools closed, businesses closed or they began practicing social distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here’s what Temple students remember:

Annie Terwilliger, center, a freshman business management major, poses with her friends from high school on March 12, 2020. | ANNIE TERWILLIGER / COURTESY

Annie Terwilliger

Freshman business management major 

Terwilliger was on a bus heading home from a school soccer game on March 12, 2020 when she received a notification that her high school, West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, would close for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.   

“That day at school, my history teacher was like, ‘Oh, you guys are going to get out of school,’ and I swear to God it was a joke,” she said. 

Ella Wallace, a freshman neuroscience major, attended a Model United Nations conference a few days before her high school transitioned to online learning. | ELLA WALLACE / COURTESY

Ella Wallace

Freshman neuroscience major

Wallace’s high school closed on March 13, 2020, two days after the global pandemic was declared. Wallace said her friends were excited because they didn’t have to turn in a school project but were also unsure what was happening because her teachers were emotional during the school day. 

“All the teachers were crying, which we thought was so weird,” Wallace added. “We were like, ‘We’re all going to come back, what is happening?’ And then I remember me and my friends had a club meeting and then after that we just hung out and had a party because we joked it was like the end of the world and just like, celebrating school was going to be gone for two weeks.”

David Shin, a senior accounting and management information systems major, takes a photo of his friends playing volleyball at Thomas Jefferson University in East Falls. | DAVID SHIN / COURTESY

David Shin

Senior accounting and management information systems major

Shin spent one of his last ‘normal’ days in East Falls outside of Thomas Jefferson University with his friends. 

“Me and a couple friends just played a couple rounds of beach volleyball and we just hung out,” Shin said. 

Anna Novakis, a junior marketing major, takes a photo with her roommates before moving out of the 1940 Residence Hall in March 2020. | ANNA NOVAKIS / COURTESY

Anna Novakis

Junior marketing major

Novakis spent her last ‘normal’ day moving out of her room in 1940 Residence Hall after students were asked to leave housing by March 21, 2020 when campus operations closed for the Spring 2020 semester. Afterward, she and her sister went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

“It was right after I packed up my dorm and we came back from Temple, and it was really sad, and everyone was rushing to leave, and it was so hectic,” said Novakis, a junior marketing major. “I feel like that was the last time we ate out and it was, just looking back, you know, it’s kind of like, nostalgic.”

Sydney Giunta, a freshman advertising major, stands in her high school’s senior lounge with her friends in March 2020. | SYDNEY GIUNTA / COURTESY

Sydney Giunta

Freshman advertising major

Giunta was in the senior lounge at her high school, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, spending time with her friends listening to music and taking photos together. 

“Some people were taking pictures and some of us were like, ‘Why would we need to take pictures? We’re going to be back in like a week,’ and then we never came back,’’ Giunta said. 

Nicholas Salerno, fourth from the left, poses with his friends at his 18th birthday party on March 15, 2020. | NICHOLAS SALERNO / COURTESY

Nicholas Salerno

Freshman legal studies major

Salerno celebrated his 18th birthday on March 15, 2020, with close friends and family eating pizza and cake and playing basketball and Cards Against Humanity, before the state closed nonessential businesses on March 16, 2020. 

“It was a lot of fun, you know, it felt normal then,” he said. “Ever since then being that close to that amount of people is very tricky even with the masks and social distancing.”

Jordan Harris, a senior public relations major, stands under a slide announcing her as the new firm director for PRowl, Temple University’s student public relations firm. | JORDAN HARRIS / COURTESY

Jordan Harris

Senior public relations major

Harris attended her last in-person meeting for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run public relations firm, on March 12, 2020, where she was slated to take over as the firm director, she said. 

“It was a very somber but exciting thing because we were like, ‘Oh, we’ll be back in two weeks, but later, like Jordan will be in charge,’ and it’s just been a whole year of being virtual and it’s been really challenging,” she said. 

India Clark, a sophomore nursing major, spent her spring break in 2020 at Cocoa Beach, Florida visiting her aunt. | INDIA CLARK / COURTESY

India Clark

Sophomore nursing major

Clark spent her last seemingly normal day lounging on the beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida. 

“The last normal day I would say was just going to the beach and just being outside before I flew back to Philly,” she said.

Melissa Resurreccion, a senior communications studies major, takes a photo of her friend and a dog the last time they hung out on March 14, 2020. | MELISSA RESURRECCION / COURTESY

Melissa Resurreccion

Senior communication studies major

Resurreccion and her friends threw a party on March 13, 2020. The following day, she and her friends went to one of their houses to hang out, and spent her day playing music and spending time together, she said. 

“It was the last time I saw all of my friends that I saw like every single weekend up until that point, and it was just really, really nice being able to be around everyone, and it was a nice last hurrah,” Resurreccion added.

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