By: Max Marinelli (Editor ‘22)
My grandmother drops me off at school for the first time in over six months, masked and sanitized, and I step out into the brisk air marking the arrival of fall. I do not rush to merge with the usual traffic of students traipsing around the oval on the first day of school, but I, instead, walk over to my assigned table. Never before had I “started” the school year with a cloth strapped across my face, nor had I started it on the last day of September, and I certainly hadn’t before trundled into a socially-distanced labyrinth of tables and called it a classroom: 2020 has been a year of firsts, to say the least.
Despite the gloomy circumstances which blemished the annual reunion of Friends’ Central students, I was gladdened to find friendly faces among the masked crowd, even if eyes served as the sole point of identification. Homeroom quickly came and went, and I logged into the morning’s virtual classrooms via my Chromebook. Even though the chilly air blew my papers about and buffeted my cheeks, I couldn’t help but find solace in the voices of my peers around me—and, what was this, was the internet working more smoothly outside than my own internet worked at home? Notwithstanding the pleasantly surprising internet connection, classes primarily passed similarly to how they would have had I been at home. I was only able to attend one in-person class, Mr. Jim Rosengarten’s US History, but it did feel nice to be able to see a teacher in front of my eyes and to answer their questions without a Zoom-delayed response. It was an odd and nostalgic feeling to respond to Jim’s prompts without first having to worry that I was muted, and it was easing to watch him write on the whiteboard in the cafeteria. While I deeply wish that every class could have been held in person, I am cognizant and appreciative of the community’s continued efforts to protect its individuals’ health and wellbeing, and want to commend Friends’ Central for its unwavering commitment to transmission mitigation.
The real treasures of my in-person school day were uncovered in the afternoon, and they were not academic, but instead social. As the day had gone on, the weather had increasingly warmed up, so much so that I went from shivering in a sweatshirt at my folding table to basking in a t-shirt out in the middle of the field hockey field. After laying my blanket atop the grass, I pulled off my mask and sat down in a circle to eat lunch with friends. Despite the physical distance between us, I felt closer to real human connection than I had felt since that fateful day back in mid-March. The change of scenery alone likely would have convinced me to attend as many in-person school days as possible, but the social interactions are the real selling point for hybrid students. I strongly encourage students who have dearly missed face-to-face conversations, long awaited the turning of autumnal leaves on the beautiful, inviting campus, or have just been lacking some good ole vitamin D, to consider enrolling in the hybrid program—oh, and dress warmly, please!