The piano has been one of various activities Marco Boci has used to keep his spirits up during the pandemic. Photo courtesy Marco Boci

Staying active a pandemic coping mechanism

By 
  • May 1, 2021

When seventh grader Marco Boci is in need of a break from his computer screen after a long day of virtual learning, he turns to the piano as way to escape.

The seventh grader at St. Clement Catholic School in Etobicoke has managed to keep his grades up and his spirits lifted while schools and beyond have been on lockdown in Toronto. Hovering at around a 95-per-cent average, the normally very active 12-year-old has found ways to cope despite many of his extracurricular sports on pause due to COVID.

He’s been learning a lot of new music — his favourite being Beethoven’s Sonatina in F Major. Its upbeat and graceful rhythm brings a feeling of joy to his spirit he finds hard to describe.

“It makes me happy,” said Boci, who also plays the trombone and pre-COVID regularly enjoyed sports like hockey, soccer and swimming. “It’s fun understanding how the music works, listening to the music and once you finally manage to learn it, seeing the result of all the work you put into it.”

He appreciates his teachers who he says have worked hard through these challenging times to not only prepare him for the eighth grade but to prepare him for life. Principal Stephen Peters commends Boci and the other students for their flexibility and positivity over the past year.

“Aside from being a very bright and inquisitive student, Marco has had to also be a very resilient student over this past year. Like many of his peers, the pandemic has forced him to adjust the usual routines he has been accustomed to with regards to school. Although it has been a challenge for many of the students, I have been very proud of the effort that our students have displayed over this past year, demonstrating how brave they can be in the face of such adversity.”

The subject Boci enjoys most right now is math. In a season where so many are searching for answers to very big problems, Boci appreciates the certainty inherent in the subject. 

“I don’t like to guess, I like to make sure,” he said. “It’s my favourite subject right now because there is an explanation to everything.”

Managing the emotional stress of COVID would not be possible without the help of his friends. He’s got a close-knit group of buddies he stays connected with via phone and video games. Loyalty and being there to support your friends is the most important rule he’s learned in his young life.

“I really need my friends to get through this pandemic and I can’t have friendship without loyalty,” he said. “It means to be honest, don’t lie and don’t do anything that would upset others.”

Boci has been taking time to teach himself new computer software, and when he feels stressed also turns to reading to get his mind off things. The best advice he would give to other kids navigating school right now is to create a schedule and stay organized. That’s been a saving grace for him over the past year. Recently he started reading The $100 Startup, a book on how to start a business. If he could start anything right now, he would want to create a software business that would help corporations stay organized.

An altar server at St. Clement Church where he attends with his parents and younger brother, like so many Boci says he misses being able to enjoy services in person.  Anxiety about the virus, he admits, sometimes gets the best of him, but it’s in those moments he turns to his faith for reassurance of God’s protection and peace.

“Praying is something I also go to because of COVID,” said Boci. “I pray that this will all go away soon, that everybody that has the virus will feel better and that my loved ones will be safe.”

Out of compassion for others, he urges everyone to stay safe, protect their mental health and for those who might be having a difficult time, to find strength in their faith in God. Wearing a mask and following public health guidelines are some of the ways we can extend our Catholic faith by showing care for others he says.

“Believe in God, do what He wants and treat others with the same respect and dignity.”

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