With each passing day it appears that we are slowly moving through the COVID-19 pandemic, and by this time next year we all hope that it is a distant memory. At this time last year, each day I came into the office I was met by empty and frightfully quiet hallways. There is a rhythm and hum to a typical school day and typical school year, but all of that last spring was gone. Fast forward one year; walking to school today on a gorgeous day the beautiful hum of a dynamic school district was back. As this blog is being written, we are ten days away from the Graduation and Commencement Exercises for the Mount Vernon High School Class of 2021. As this big rite of passage nears, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on what was lost and what was gained for the members of the Class of 2021.
Last spring was a time of loss for the Class of 2021. They lost a quarter of instruction at an extremely important time in their academic careers. They saw people struggle with painful loss, and saw people trying to adjust to working and learning from home. They lost the chance to hang out with friends at school and at home, and lost big events like Prom. Concerts, plays, and sports competitions were cancelled. Freedom to do as they pleased on a daily basis was replaced by staying home and worrying about the health and well-being of loved ones. Even when school and activities began again there were masks to be worn, new protocols to be followed, time in quarantine for many of them, activities cancelled again, crowds at events were small, and they learned the definition of the word, “hybrid.” Homecoming was not the same. Life was somewhat normal again, except when it wasn’t.
At the same time, all was not lost for the Class of 2021. They gained some things that are hard to measure like the loss of instructional time and activities. They gained perspective on what is most important in life. They gained maturity. They learned more deeply about patience and understanding. They were the ones early on who guided us in deciding how to handle the start of the school year, sharing they were fine with either a full return to school or a hybrid schedule as long as they could avoid being at home again. When gaining back a full-time return to school and winning back activities, they were thrilled to be “back in the game” while accepting that the rules and protocols were different than in the past. While the losses were significant, the things gained by the Class of 2021 will serve them so well in the years to come.
For the last year, hope has meant getting shots into arms. But more realistically, hope lies behind the masks of the members of the Class of 2021. So to the Class of 2021, thank you for being strong during difficult times. As always, remember we are here for you long after you walk across the stage on May 23, 2021.