David Oppenlander was two weeks into his fourth and final year of track and field as a senior at Notre Dame- Cathedral Latin School when COVID-19 shut down in-person school activities and gatherings. With a love for the performing arts and as student president for the school’s math honors society, the recent graduate had to find new ways to keep up with his teammates. On May 16, he was one of 170 students who participated in ruNDCL, a virtual 5K race created to bring everyone together in solidarity.
There’s been a lot of effort from the faculty and staff to try and get events going for the students. We thought it was going to be three weeks and then we’d be back. As they extended it, we realized this might go through the end of the year.
Our dean of students created a page with special challenges and workout routines that students could film themselves doing. The 5K was an event to try and help people do the same thing at the same time to feel like that community even though we couldn’t physically experience that.
I live right outside Chardon Square in a little development that’s got like one big hill at the end of it. It’s about a mile long back-and-forth. My mom and sister also participated. We essentially did three back-and-forth [trips].
When you do a 5K in person, there’s a lot you have to do. You have to close off roads to get your route and you have to have water. But since it was all on your own, you could personalize your own experience because it was at your house on your own terms.
They had everyone snap a finish line photo, and they created a slideshow of everyone who participated. It was another way of seeing all my friends again. It’s not like talking to them or being right next to them, but seeing their presence in a NDCL-related event reminds you that these people are there, we all miss each other, and we’re all getting through it. — as told to James Bigley II