Throughout these unknown times, students have found a creative outlet of self-expression


Katie Romijn decorates her laptop with a motley of stickers

Sophomore Katie Romijn’s decision to cover her laptop with an array of stickers dwells from a place of memories and interests. She feels as though using stickers, pins, or car stickers creates a window of expression. 

Collections, personal meanings, self-expression, or just for pure fun are a few reasons why these students choose to use as a template to place these stickers on their laptops. 

“My Michigan sticker reminds me of summer,” Katie explained. “I have a ski goggle because I like to ski; I started collecting some stickers, and I put them on the back of my computer because it adds some personality to [my laptop].” 

The idea blossomed from Katie receiving her laptop in middle school, and from there on, the collection of her stickers grew into the vibrant garden of stickers that she takes pride in. Even in the midst of the beginning of this year and the end of last has been nothing short of a chaotic chapter in all of her life. 

The irony of it all is the consistency of these unknown events—quarantine, social distancing, masks, not having the freedom of being with loved ones as much, and not having the ability to go out into the world like usual—so, amidst these happenings, students and teens have been losing activities to partake in; quarantine naturally drew teens to enjoy online shopping, and with the popularity of pins and stickers, Katie found herself buying more. 

“I think pins are also a good way [of self-expression],” Katie said, “but I like stickers because you can put them anywhere because I also put them on my phone case or car; I think those hold good meaning, and it shows a lot about someone.” 

For junior Sofia Johnson, anime holds the influence for the stickers on her laptop. A diverse collection of different anime characters are what hug Sofia’s laptop. 

“I have a habit of when I get into something, I collect a bunch of things about that specific thing,” Sofia said. “Mostly they are [stickers] my favorite characters.”

Laptop stickers are not the only way to help as a creative outlet for students’ use. For many who might not have personal laptops, material items such as pins, cases, and patches substitute for the laptop stickers. But in the end, these small accessories hold meaning, memories, and hobbies of fellow students. 

“I think pins are also a good way [of self-expression].”

— -Katie Romijn

“I have a pride pin, [and] I have a bunch of random pins I’ve collected and a lot of anime keychains,” Sofia said.

Math teacher Tracy Will started her sticker collection when the teachers had gotten their second laptop. But, quarantine has especially awoken an impulse to buy stickers that reflected her interests and travels. 

“These [stickers] are from my travels like Mammoth cave, [and] last Christmas we took a trip to Four Corners, and we stood on the corner in Winslow, Arizona,” Will said. “My daughter gave me this sticker she purchased on her own—she’s only in fourth grade—and it was all about plants.”

The idea of collecting stickers spawned from seeing her students and her kids with an obsession for them. In a burst of energy, she decided it would be a good hobby to partake in, and, at the same time, it would express who she is. 

“During the pandemic, I got way into Hamilton and way into Schitt’s Creek, so the rest of my stickers remind me of family time spent together,” Will said. “Fold in the cheese was a big joke about this year [because], as teachers, we’re like being told to figure it out, and we’ve done great.” 

Between her family, her sticker collection, and her memories, Will has found many hidden gems amongst the chaos of these times. It opens up her eyes and lets her breathe in a scent of familiarity and dive in. 

“It reminds me of fun times with family and learning new experiences as well as a bit of humor, which is what my stickers do for me,” Will said. “I think we’re ready to get out there and be around people more because it’s been really hard for us.”