Baking Cupcakes, Making Zoom Calls, and Running Nine Miles: A Glimpse Into Birthday Celebrations Under Quarantine

During the past few months, Bronx Science students have spent their birthdays in quarantine, celebrating in unique and creative ways.


Allie Smithie

Allie Smithie ’22 dressed up for her birthday and went outside of her building to take a photo with her sister, while maintaining social distancing, of course. She put her mask back on immediately after this photograph was taken!

While it may seem like the opposite of a party to spend your special day in quarantine, March, April, and May 2020 students have found their quarantine-birthdays to be less dreadful than expected. Holding onto a piece of normalcy like a birthday celebration during a global pandemic may seem trivial, but it is important to maintain the same routine and social connections from one’s pre-Coronavirus life. Practicing social distancing and celebrating with friends appears to be an oxymoron, creating a social conundrum. Fortunately, technology has advanced quite a bit since the influenza  pandemic of 1918, the last pandemic on a similar scale. Virtual celebrations, no matter how glitch-filled and lacking in personal warmth, can still be a great way to communicate with your friends and family on your birthday. Students from Bronx Science continue to celebrate their annual ‘passing around the sun’ in isolation, finding some unique ways to commemorate the occasion.

Claire Kim ’21 held her own party online, not wanting to waste her 17th birthday. “At 11:00 pm on April 21, 2020, my friends and I started a Zoom call with each other and stayed up until about 5:00 a.m.,” said Kim. Allie Smithie ’22 also spent her 16th birthday abiding by Governor Cuomo’s recommended social-distancing precautions and spent time with her family. Her plans to have a real-life picnic with her friends on April 6, 2020 no longer seemed appropriate, so she Facetimed with them and made the most of her day. “I spent my birthday calling my friends and family and eating my raspberry cake. I mostly hung out with my sister at the park. I also wrote some poems,” said Smithie. Her laid back day contrasts starkly with the activities in which Sean Kerrigan ’22 participated in on his birthday. After texting his friends and receiving numerous birthday wishes, Sean decided to indulge in his vice. “I ran 9 miles on my birthday,” said Kerrigan. Despite the shock that one may feel upon hearing this phrase, Sean claims that he enjoyed his day immensely. “I run every Sunday, and this year, my birthday happened to land on one. I love running, so I was more than happy to continue my routine, and it created a sense of normalcy,” said Kerrigan. Students have found creative ways to spend their birthdays and contact their friends, picking up new hobbies and perfecting old ones.

One activity that most students seem to have been practicing while under quarantine restrictions is the art of baking in the kitchen. This pastime is the perfect skill to have on a birthday, as cakes and baked goods are usually an essential aspect of the celebration. Samantha Pokorny ’22 mourned the loss of her trip to Europe for her April 2020 spring break birthday, but the cupcakes that she baked with her parents helped to mitigate the loss. While the pastries in Paris may seem unbeatable, Pokorny is convinced that her own baking matched the Parisian flavor. “I wish that my trip could have happened, but I enjoyed my cupcakes, and I cannot wait to have a party after quarantine,” Pokorny said. James Yao ’23 had a similar celebration, baking donuts for the occasion. “It was a cold day, but the birthday wishes and donuts shed some warmth on what I had expected to be an uneventful birthday,” said Yao.

After reading about these students’ celebrations, you are probably thinking that a quarantine birthday sounds pretty nice! 

Sean Kerrigan ’22 relaxed on his birthday after a long run.