How We Carry On: A Day in the Life of a Morse High Schooler

Isaac Ensel playing the keyboard in the street

Morse High School, Bath, ME: Amidst the uncertainty and chaos that ensued following the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, rising juniors at Morse High School, Isabel Strelneck and Isaac Ensel, came up with an inspiring idea to bring friends back together and bring joy to their community. Together, they rallied over 40 of their classmates to work together to produce a music video to show their community what their lives as high schoolers have looked like since the onset of social distancing. You can watch the video here.

One day, Isaac Ensel called Isabel Strelneck and asked her to listen to the song “Carry On” by Fun. As she listened, he described how a music video would be a perfect way to capture their daily lives, and the vision for the project became clear. Isaac and Isabel filmed some portions of the video together, from a distance, and reached out to friends to get clips from their days. In the video, you can see everything from practicing lacrosse to an online English class. Isabel and Isaac were able to create and provide a platform for their friends to share and validate their own experiences during this time of uncertainty.

Isabel says that they were inspired by wanting to bring joy to people and to talk to friends who they had not seen recently. The two filmmakers said “we created this video to bring light to the pandemic while demonstrating what students have been doing” Isabel and Isaac wanted to document this rare time, and making a music video was something they had always wanted to do. The combination of these ideas has made an amazing impact on their community.

When asked how well the video captured how she and her friends are handling this time of social distancing, Isabel said “I think it’s harder to describe how I’m feeling and spending time during quarantine, but the video shows a good representation of the ways [my friends and I] are trying to get through it…If anything, it was also a reminder to me that there’s a positive side to all this time-so many new things to try and practice.”

Teachers, classmates, and community members alike have left comments on the video sharing their love and support. Leah Heyman, a science teacher at Bath Middle School, and former teacher of many students in the video wrote “I love this, miss you! An amazing way to work together, [and] stay connected.” Many others chimed in with praise, love, and pride. “This is SO SWEET! Got me a little teary-eyed. So great to see all those fantastic Morse students!” commented another viewer.

When asked what the message behind the video was, Isabel said that “the message behind the video is that [Coronavirus] is impacting every single person differently, but there’s ways to make the best of it and ‘carry on’…it’s also a reminder that we can all stay connected even when we can’t be together at school.” With well over 5,000 views on YouTube, Isabel and Isaac have been able to spread this message to their community and beyond. Isabel and Isaac hope that their video can make people’s day, bring them joy, and hopefully inspire them. After reading through the comments on the YouTube page, as well as having conversations with community members, Isabel said that she and Isaac “really weren’t expecting people to have emotional reactions to the video but rather for it to be something enjoyable, but it touched a lot of people and we think that’s really cool.”

In talking with Isabel, who is also a member of the Commissioner’s Student Cabinet, she reflected further on the impact her video has made on the community. When asked further about responses from teachers and fellow students looked like she responded with:

At first, Isaac and I thought it would be a fun, lighthearted video that would only reach our closest friends. Once we posted it, students thought of it as fun and entertaining, as we originally thought it would be, but teachers and adults treated it more sentimentally. We’ve received many thank-yous and grateful notes on how the video had impacted people’s lives and made a difference in their day. It may have been how much time we spent working on the video or something else, but we overlooked the possibility that it could really be so meaningful-a lot of people have reached out to us, even saying they’ve cried from it! -Isabel Strelneck

Watch the “How We Carry On” music video created by Morse High School juniors Isabel Strelneck and Isaac Ensel here!

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Aidan Sachs in collaboration with rising juniors at Morse High School, Isabel Strelneck and Isaac Ensel as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.