GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Her eyes are on the future: On football this fall; on all of life opening up again for everyone, and being with her friends, again, during what will be her first year at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County - and her sister’s senior year.
But 14-year-old Lauren Chancey, at home, finishing up eighth grade at Trickum Middle School through remote classes, is certain Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is wrong to let the state start to reopen now.
So she wrote him a letter -- a real letter, not an email -- and she mailed it to the State Capitol in Atlanta.
“I am not writing to you to degrade you or your decision,” she wrote. “I am simply sharing a different perspective.”
“It is insulting to health care workers, first responders, and COVID-19 victims to open this early. I actually think if we continue to stay at home, our economy will bounce back more quickly. By reopening the state, this will extend the pandemic all the way to the start of next year.”
She closed her letter: “I pray that you and your family stay safe during these troubling times, but do us all a favor and close the state. Sincerely, Lauren Chancey.”
11Alive talked with Lauren and her mother, Jenny, Friday afternoon from their home, via Zoom.
“I would just like the governor to hear me out and just think of what could happen because of this, and the consequences,” Lauren said. “I think if he saw someone from my generation reaching out like this, and say, ‘Hey, this is not OK,’ and sharing my perspective, I thought it was a good idea.”
Jenny said she is proud of Lauren for speaking her mind in the letter to the governor.
“I wasn’t surprised” that Lauren wrote the letter, Jenny said. “When she feels passionate about things, she likes to express her opinion. And she’s really gotten quite good at expressing her opinion, and I certainly don’t want to hold her back from that. I think she’s just expressing, really, from the eyes of a 14-year-old what this could mean. Because the kids are hearing things like this could extend into the next school year.”
11Alive asked the governor’s office, Friday morning, for comment about Lauren’s letter, and asked if any teens have written him supporting his decision to reopen. As of Friday night, the governor’s office had not responded.
“Even if the governor doesn’t change his decision,” Lauren said, “I think people should stay at home, just because it’s what’s best for the state.”
It's one perspective from one student trying to help, as best she can, to save everyone’s future.
Dear Governor Kemp,
My name is Lauren Chancey. I am 14 years old. I go to Trickum Middle School, and I am finishing out my 8th grade year. I am sure you are aware of the backlash you have received after reopening the state so early. I am not writing to you to degrade you or your decision. I am simply sharing a different perspective.
At the start of the 2020 school year, I will be a freshman at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County. My sister will be a Senior. My family will be experiencing a whirlwind of first and lasts. For me it's the start of high school. For my sister, it's her last. My parents will send their kids into huge milestones in their life. My family is not the only family in my community that is going through the same thing. Classes of 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 do not want to miss out on a whole year of their high school experience.
You may think, ‘I thought kids hated school’. Well, I will be the first to tell you I have said I hate school about 100 times in my life, and I take back every time I have said it. I would do anything to make all of this go away and have my normal life back again. High school isn't just about passing your classes. As you know, there are so many things that come with being a high schooler. Football games, school dances, pep rallies, sports seasons, and making memories with your closest friends, just to name a few. It would be a shame to throw that all away. You are probably wondering how reopening the state would throw all this away. On the date 4/22/20 there have been 20,740 confirmed cases in Georgia and 836 deaths. The cases have not been declining at all. It is insulting to healthcare workers, first responders, and COVID-19 victims to open this early. You probably did this because you thought it would help the economy. Perhaps you believe there will be less people filing for unemployment, However, there will be no economy to build up if this disease takes over, due to the fact that people no longer must shelter in place. I actually think if we continue to stay at home, our economy will bounce back more quickly. For example, the film industry is huge in Georgia. I don’t have to tell you this! Currently, no movies or TV shows are being filmed due to COVID. By staying at home and flattening the curve, the film industry, a huge part of our economy, could be back in no time.
You may be thinking these aren't valid reasons but, our education is. By reopening the state, this will extend the pandemic all the way to the start of next year. This will have a huge impact on the education of the state. Gwinnett County luckily has a fantastic online learning program. Many counties in the state aren't as prepared for an event like this, therefore they won’t have as strong of a system. Even though Gwinnett county has a great system, I personally feel that I am not getting as good of an education as I would be if I were in school…. I will be the first to admit I have had a hard time keeping up with all my work. I think all my classmates would agree that there are so many distractions while working at home. I often find myself picking up my phone and going on instagram or tiktok. My point is that the longer we don't have a face to face education, the less skilled this generation will become.
I know you may not want to take advice from a 14 year old girl but I am just asking you to hear me out. I understand that being governor is an extremely hard job, and I know that you are trying to please everyone in the state. You have been a great governor so far and I want to thank you for all that you have done for the state. But I'm begging you to sympathize with the current high schoolers. We have already seen what has happened with the class of 2020 and how heartbreaking it was for them. It would be a big blow if it happened again. I hope you can take this into consideration for, not only the youth, but all citizens in the beautiful state of Georgia. I pray that you and your family stay safe during these troubling times, but do us all a favor and close the state.