New Year. Way New Look

Social+distancing+and+mask+wearing+signage+are+on+display+at+all+parts+of+the+main+hallways.

Jason Verdin

Social distancing and mask wearing signage are on display at all parts of the main hallways.

The start of the school year is usually one that is filled with anticipation. Outfits are planned in late August, schedules are scoped out, and rooms are searched for on high school maps only for students to still be late and lost for the first couple of weeks.

This year looks very different. The last time that most students were in the building was back on March 13th, 2020. What was first thought to be an extra 8 days off of school under the guise of emergency days ended up being the last time that many students had any sort of real school interaction. Everything stopped. Or it at least seemed like everything stopped. Teachers adapted and tried to teach virtually to partially filled Zoom rooms as rules and regulations from the Illinois State Board of Education were unclear. Sports seasons were put on pause and then entire seasons were cancelled indefinitely. Hope was created, but it seemed like it was only to keep students tied to the concept of school to the best of their abilities while the rest of the world focused on a pandemic. The class of 2020 didn’t get the ending to their high school careers that should seem like a promise.

What was first thought to be an extra 8 days off of school under the guise of emergency days ended up being the last time that many students had any sort of real school interaction.”

Then came summer. What is usually a time of hanging out with friends, going to the pool, and having no care in the world became a time filled with rules, social distancing, wearing a mask, being highly selective about the people inviting into small bubbles, and an overall summer that should have been. But hope reared its head once again as sports camps came back, hybrid school schedules were announced, and a sense of normalcy, or what was hinted at to be our return to normalcy, was felt. But before teachers could begin to

plan for a hybrid learning system, remote learning 2.0 was announced, and once again, we were reminded of the bleak reality we have been living in: social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands, rules and regulations, and what should have been.

The inside of our school building is one that is barely reverberating with a wildcat cheer (rah rah rah). It’s empty, quiet, and a bit frozen in time. Signs that used to promote school spirit and “all for one-ness” now promote social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing a mask, all of course stylized in beautiful blue and gold colorways. Hallways that used to have unwritten traffic rules now have “stay to the right” signs and one way stairwells to help maximize the anticipated flow of traffic that was going to occur with the hybrid learning plan. Some display cases were still advertising events that the class of 2020 never got to experience: student-created outfits to wear to prom and senior spectacular.

But regardless of the situation at hand, we have chosen to move forward. We NEED to move forward. IHSA has found ways to have some sports run safely: cross country, tennis, and golf. School has started the latest start date in the history of IPSD 204, September 3rd. The start of the 2020-21 school year is one where instead of mapping out school schedules, students are trying to make sense of Zoom links, emails, weekly previews, and hundreds of emails that pretty much communicate the same thing. But we will persevere, and we will overcome the challenges of remote learning.

One day, we’ll be in person again and as close as possible to the comforts of regularity.