This year, our coverage has been dominated by one topic: COVID-19. The pandemic has altered every aspect of our lives. Articles about what were the usual high school moments – sports, dances and clubs now included precautions and notes about how the pandemic affected the event.
Despite this, we don’t believe the pandemic was over-covered, as its effect can barely be understood even now. Its impact has been all encompassing and has forced us to reconcile with long held beliefs and norms in the face of unprecedented change. We too have reflected not only on our work, but what this pandemic has taught us about ourselves and our world.
As vaccination rates rise and cases fall, life will start to look more normal. However, we as a school and a community should not immediately snap back to the ways of before without question. We would be remiss if we allowed this pandemic to come and go without teaching us something about ourselves.
Here are some things we have learned:
1.) We need community. While America has always been a nation that prides itself on individualism, we must realize that some issues are too widespread and important to face alone. In times of trouble we need help; we need each other.
2.) Division is our weakness. There are important differences in politics today, and those disagreements should be hashed out and vigorously debated. But it is when we fail to recognize our common humanity that those small differences become irreconcilable. That’s when we fail.
3.) School is more complicated than we thought. With virtual school, our learning drastically changed. For some it was a dream come true – the chance to work at your own pace and make your own schedule. For others it was a nightmare – sitting in bed on your chromebook with motivation decreasing by the second. But as we move forward we understand that school is about more than learning in a classroom. It’s about social interaction; it’s about the structure of the school day and it’s about our personal growth.
4.) We all can benefit from some personal changes. In quarantine most of us took up new activities. Whether it was crafting, meditation, or baking, we learned new skills, and as life slowed down we were able to make the changes that we needed. Many people also had changes to their friend group and peers. While change isn’t always easy, sometimes change is what we need.
5.) We need to pay more attention to local government. Often all eyes are on our national government. We hold our breath for presidential and congressional elections, but often the most important governing is done at the local level.In the beginning of the pandemic it was state governments that took action, shutting down businesses and schools in the name of public safety. As we attempted to reenter school this year, it was the school board who set guidelines and rules for how we went back to school safely. While sometimes hard to understand or less exciting, local government matters.
As we enter our new normal, we hope all people learn the lessons this past year has given us. As we head optimistically into the future, let’s make sure to not return to the status quo, but rather, to re enter our normal routines with an open mind, an appetite for improvement and the will to change our lives for the better.