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COVID And The Classroom: Thomas White

COVID and the Classroom

High school seniors navigate a pivotal year and a pandemic. More...

June 15, 2021

Hello and Goodbye: When he stepped onto the field at Fenway Park to pick up his diplomas, Thomas was surrounded by classmates he hadn’t seen in more than a year. As he told GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos, graduation was both a farewell and a reunion.

A Reunion And A Farewell

Thomas White, a senior at Boston Latin High School, enters Fenway Park in Boston ahead of his graduation ceremony on June 15, 2021.
Meredith Nierman GBH News


May 20, 2021

Game(s) Back On: Thomas is a track star, but one of his favorite things to do is coach youth basketball. And as he tells GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos after a long winter at home, it’s good to be back on the court.

Read the story here …

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Thomas White coaches a basketball game on May 2.
Joanie Tobin GBH News

April 21, 2021

Welcome Shot: Like many people, Thomas doesn’t like needles. But today he was delighted to head across town the Hynes Convention Center and get a COVID shot.


April 14, 2021

New Track Uniform: Spring track’s about to start and Thomas is looking forward to competing. As he explains to GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this Zoom call, he’ll be running his last high school season wearing a new jersey. He won’t miss his old one.

Watch an interview clip …

April 2, 2021

Relief: Thomas shares the results of the his COVID test in this test exchange with GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos.


April 1, 2021

Vaccine Ready: After a possible exposure during track practice, Thomas has been wearing a mask at home while he waits for COVID test results. Meanwhile, as he tells GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this Zoom interview, he’s looking forward to getting a vaccine.

Watch the interview clip here:

March 25, 2021

A Little German: Thomas hasn’t been in German class in more than a year, but as he tells GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this Zoom interview, this week he tested his skills.

Watch a clip from the interview …

March 16, 2021

Home Sweet School: The line between home and school is a blur for many students – including Thomas. Here’s a look at what life’s like in the place he spends the most time: home.

Thomas White does his homework on Sunday February 7, 2021 in South Boston, Mass.
Meredith Nierman GBH News

PHOTOS: View a day in the life of Thomas White

March 5, 2021

Indoor Track Outdoors: Nothing is going as planned this year and that includes Thomas’ delayed winter track season. But it looks like he’ll get to race. He just won’t see the guys he’s competing against.

Watch his video diary …

February 28, 2021

Nightmare: The pandemic has impacted just about every aspect of Thomas’ life and sometimes his dreams.

Watch his video diary …

February 26, 2021

Senior Prom: It’s hard to know what will be possible this spring, but Thomas says there is an effort underway at his school to stage a senior prom. As he tells GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this Zoom interview it’s not an event he’s especially excited to attend.

Watch his video diary …

February 4, 2021

12 Miles, 8 Neighborhoods and 1 College Essay: Even when Thomas slows his pace, it’s a still a work out to keep up with him as GBH senior digital video producer Greg Shea found out when he ran alongside to capture the run that inspired Thomas’ college essay.

Watch the full story …

January 25, 2021

Off And Running: His cross country season was cut short. Winter track competition is on hold. But as Thomas tells GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this text exchange, track practice is starting up again.


January 22, 2021

Bernie Meme: The now-famous photo of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sitting cross-legged at the inauguration has, of course, gone viral. In this Zoom interview with GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos, Thomas talks about the Bernie meme that hit home in his neighborhood, South Boston.

Watch the interview clip …

January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day: Thomas cast his first vote for President in November. Today he watched his candidate be sworn into office. Thomas shared his thoughts on the day in this text exchange with GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos:


January 15, 2021

A Nice Normal Wednesday: Thomas is hoping Inauguration Day will be “a nice normal Wednesday.” But as he told GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillo in this Zoom interview, the threat of violence in state capitals across the country has made him think twice about continuing with his normal running route that leads past the State House in Boston.

Watch a clip from his interview …

January 8, 2021

Real Time History: Political violence is one of the topics Thomas has been learning about in his Comparative Government class this year. So when President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capital building this week, he was well aware history was unfolding. Here’s part of his interview with GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos.

Watch a clip from his interview …

January 5, 2021

Waiting To Compete: Thomas is hoping winter track season will get a late start as planned. Basketball season was supposed to get underway this week, but for Boston’s public school athletes there’s been yet another delay.

Read or listen to the full story

December 31, 2020

Looking Ahead: Sure, there’s a pandemic to worry about, but on this New Year’s Eve Thomas is also thinking about a rite of passage for many kids his age: leaving home for college.

Watch his video diary …

December 18, 2020

Snow Workout: Thomas doesn’t enjoy running in the snow and cold, but as he told GBH New Reporter Esteban Bustillos in this Zoom interview, one thing about a foot of snow he does appreciate is the opportunity to get in some cross training.

Watch a clip from his interview ...

December 18, 2020

Tommy White: In the neighborhood where he grew up a lot of people know Thomas as “Tommy.” He credits youth programs and older kids in the neighborhood with helping him become a competitive runner and now he likes being a mentor to younger kids. It’s just a lot harder to make those connections during COVID.

Read or listen to the full story

December 17, 2020

Looking Ahead: Thomas has made it to winter break of his senior year without having set foot in a classroom. His big hope for 2021: Maybe a few days this spring with his classmates.

Watch his video diary…

December 4, 2020

A Quarter of a Million Dollars: Thomas didn’t win the lottery, but he came close. In this Zoom interview with GBH News Reporter Esteban Bustillos he reveals that he’s been selected for a coveted Posse Scholarship that will cover tuition at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. The interview was recorded on Dec 4, but at Thomas’ request, we delayed publication until he learned other Posse winners were notified.

Watch a clip from his interview…

December 2, 2020

Back To School? Mayor Marty Walsh said this week that he hopes to reopen Boston schools for in person learning after the holidays. But in a text exchange with GBH News reporter Esteban Bustillos, Thomas says he’s not so sure he’ll be back in the classroom.


November 25, 2020

Game Off: Traditionally, the day before Thanksgiving is a break from the grind at Boston Latin as students gather for a spirit day in advance of the big game. “It is just a fun day,” says Thomas,“ something nice that’s thrown into what can be part of grueling time in the school year. And now just everything’s kind of stagnant”. No pep rally. No in person school. And – for the first time since 1887 – no Thanksgiving Day football game between Boston Latin and its cross-town rival English High School.

The back cover of a copy of the program for the 1986 game between Latin and English, the 100th meeting of the two teams since 1887, shows moments of the rivalry through the years.
Courtesy of Boston Latin School

Listen to the full story ….

Pandemic Pauses Turkey Day Rivalry

November 20, 2020

Indoor Track Season Delayed: Thomas learns that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has postponed the start of winter track for all public schools until February 22. There is a silver lining: even if the season started soon, his team would not be able to compete because Boston Public Schools has cancelled all sports.

Watch a clip from of his interview ...

November 14, 2020

Race Day: Thomas incorporates a virtual version of the third annual MR8K road race into his Saturday morning run. It benefits the foundation named in honor of Martin Richard, an eight year old boy killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Watch his video diary ...

November 13, 2020

Learning Alone: Two months in, Thomas reflects on his remote-only senior year. Being online isn’t the only thing that’s different this year, there’s less class time, too.

Watch a clip from of his interview ...

November 11, 2020

Loss: A lot of high school seniors have lost out on the chance to compete during their final high school season. But Thomas says that loss is not easy to talk about.

"I feel guilty sometimes with how I feel sad about not having a senior year cross country season," he said, "when there's people dying every single day and people are out protesting for their rights."

Watch the full story …

November 10, 2020

Finalist: As college deadlines loom, Thomas texts with GBH news reporter Esteban Bustillos to share some exciting news.

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November 6, 2020

Uncertain Outcome: One advantage of remote school, you can keep an eye on the news during class. And in an interview with GBH reporter Esteban Bustillos, Thomas says post-election, that’s what most of his classmates are doing.

Watch a clip from of his interview ...

November 3, 2020

Dark Hole: The end of Thomas’ cross country season is just one example of the dark hole that high school sports has been thrown into during the pandemic.

“The state didn’t really know what was safe or not safe. So everything kept getting pushed back," says Chris Blondin, Thomas’ coach. "And we were just praying that it wouldn’t end up like the spring season where it outright got cancelled. So the fact that we even have a season at all is just a blessing.”
Blondin’s grateful to get in at least part of a season. But even for the sports and districts that are still going, a season can seem like a countdown to the inevitable postponement or cancellation.

Listen to the full story …

How COVID-19 Has Impacted High School Sports

November 3, 2020

Election Day: Thomas turned 18 on November 2. The next day he went with his parents early in the morning to cast his first vote.

Watch his video diary …

October 29, 2020

Season Over: Thomas had big hopes for the cross country season. They ended when COVID rates in Boston spiked and the school department cancelled all sports.

Watch his video diary …

September 15, 2020

First Day of School: Thomas started his senior year logging into class from the bedroom he shares with his younger brother. All classes at Boston Latin are remote and most sports are cancelled. But Thomas runs cross country and, for now, the season is on.

Watch his video diary …