As I and many other high schoolers can attest, the past couple of months of quarantine, social distancing, and lack of interaction with our peers have not been the most exciting of times. I can still remember our last day of school. I finished my day with track practice, and even though we had been informed of the potential of school closing, the idea seemed unrealistic, and I certainly didn’t anticipate my junior year to end so abruptly. The quick and unexpected end to our physical school year left many without a sense of closure. We all felt for the graduating seniors and their loss, and for many of us as we begin transitioning into the next year, it almost feels as if last school year didn’t exactly end.
Being the outgoing teenage boy I am, the end of school meant the end of sports, the end of so many daily interactions, and the end of many countless little things I never knew I took for granted. I think I can speak for many when I say the first couple of days of online school genuinely didn’t seem too bad. We slept in, got our work done, and had a little extra free time. However, it wasn’t long before we all felt an unusual sense of loneliness. As cliche and normalized as so many little things throughout the school day are, we never realize how much we enjoy or even need them. Whether it’s racing to the front of the line to be the first one to get lunch, Coach Anderson cracking a joke before giving us a math lesson, or Coach Dupe getting us prepared for a big track meet for the weekend, it is the small acts and interactions that make Episcopal like a second home to me and so many other students. It’s not just where we go to learn, carry textbooks, and take notes, it is so much more than that. I and so many others have made many meaningful relationships at Episcopal throughout our time at the school, and this extended time away from school has, without a doubt, made us all cherish and value them so much more.
As we to return to school, despite how the environment may change due to the uncertainty of situations going on within the state and the world around us, we aren’t just preparing our minds to get lectured on the Pythagorean theorem or on learning the importance of mitochondria in living organisms. We’re getting ready to return to an environment we call home. A place where we interact with some of our closest friends and one with a wonderful group of teachers and faculty, who I know want nothing more than to see myself and other members of my class graduate and get ready to take the next step in our lives. I have never once admitted during the summer that I was ready to go back to school, no matter how many times an adult asked me. In the end, it’s because I never truly appreciated “school” for all it really is to me. However, this year as I finish cramming summer reading, pack my bag with pencils that will magically disappear within the first three weeks, and give a large sigh as my mom begs me to take my final first day of school picture, I can truthfully say I’m ready to go back to school. I’m ready to return home.
Oliver Jack is entering his Senior year, has attended Episcopal since Pre-K, and competes on the football, track, and powerlifting teams at school. He hopes to study engineering in college.