CHINO HILLS (CBSLA) — All dressed up with nowhere to go, Chino Hills High School junior Riese Ili went back to school Monday.
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“Hopefully next year, come this next school year, we’ll be back on campus,” he said.
But until then, he said he found comfort doing his not-so-distant distance learning in front of the campus he hasn’t been able to attend in person for almost a year.
“Obviously our seniors are hurt here on campus,” Ili said. “It’s definitely something we’re struggling and trying to find a solution to.”
He said campus closures forced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have taken a toll on him and his fellow classmates’ morale, which is why the unapologetic aspiring study body president and varsity track player decided to bring his learning back to campus for a day.
“Obviously my sports season was canceled,” he said.READ MORE: Shaq Mural Installed On Melrose Avenue
But all that time alone indoors for months failed to prepare him to brave the elements.
“It was sprinkling when I got here,” he said. “I didn’t have an umbrella. I didn’t even have a chair, so I had to call up my mom and be like, ‘Can you bring up an umbrella?'”
But she was not the only one who came through, with his friends stopping by to share a smile and even complete strangers coming by the school to bring Ili gifts after his dad shared a photo of his son’s unique study hall choice on Facebook.
“People within the community just driving by, saying hi and giving me stuff to get through the day,” he said. “I’m so grateful for it.”
And maybe they were grateful too, seeing a kid put himself out there, trying to reclaim a bit of his life from before the pandemic.
“I hope that we can get back out soon, that we can be all back with one another, with respect to COVID and being safe,” Ili said. “That we can be together and see one another.”MORE NEWS: FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization For Moderna And Johnson & Johnson's COVID Vaccine Booster Shots
And while the weather was not on his side Monday, Ili said he might just turn what was meant to be a day-trip into part of his routine.