This year Emma Ketchum and Carson Komishane, Co-Editors in Chief of The Independent, the MERHS newspaper, will be contributing regularly to the Cricket. We are looking forward to hearing from them about the goings-on at the high school as well as their experiences as seniors. This week Emma and Carson share their impressions of the first week back to school.
Back To School
By Emma Ketchum
Since the first day of middle school, I have always thought about what it is going to be like to walk the halls as a senior. How different will I be? What college will I be going to? Who will my friends be? Now, the day has finally come, and my questions will be answered.
I was expecting this year to feel completely normal, like how it was before the pandemic. However, I found out days prior to the start of school that we will be required to wear masks at all times. My initial reaction to this restriction was that this year is going to be the exact same as last year, but I have been proved wrong during these first few days back.
First, it is so much better having everyone at school, with the dismissal of Zoom altogether. We are on our computers less and are having more classroom interactions. I have made more meaningful connections with my teachers and I am more engaged than when I was learning through my computer screen.
Senior Ema O’Neil said, “I’m just happy to be back. Anything’s better than being on Zoom.”
Our class officers did a great job of welcoming the seniors to their final year by starting the day off with a group viewing of the sunrise at Singing Beach. I was able to talk with people I have not seen all summer and make a great memory right at the start.
We were also surprised with paintings on our parking spots that our parents did the night before. I was happy to see the effort my mom put in to make my first day a little more special.
These first days have shown me that I will be able to have a great senior year, despite the Covid setbacks.
A Normal Year While Wearing Masks
By Carson Komishane
The return to Manchester Essex Regional High School fostered a common goal for students and teachers, which is to have a normal year while wearing masks.
At the moment, we currently follow a normal year bell schedule. A slight change this year is that we have to remain three feet apart from each other, which forces teachers to be more adaptive with the layout of their classes. Other than constantly wearing masks, the year feels normal.
The biggest difference from a pre-COVID year and this year is the cafeteria. It is set up with desks a few feet apart, which is uncomfortable. Fortunately for us, the early fall weather allows us to sit outside on the turf. However, as the weather becomes colder, we will have to sit inside in the cafeteria on desks, which is not ideal, but the only way to have lunch safely.
I find that the school is also adapting to the new year in a positive way, by finding more efficient strategies for students to reduce their risk of exposure. When students are tardy, instead of going to the office and signing in, they go straight to their class and scan a QR code on the door, reducing the interruptions of handing in a late pass to the teacher.
I also love how many teachers are using techniques from last year that they found were beneficial, such as moving worksheets to Google Classroom, which reduces disorganization in binders.
My favorite thing about this year is the ability to be in-person with my friends. It has improved my mental health and also allows me to talk to people I do not normally interact with outside of my classes.
Senior Samantha Rosen said she is excited about her final year in high school, and is relieved to be back. “It is so nice to be back in person, even though it may take a while to get used to,” she said.
Senior Isabella Thurlow said she has to relearn how to navigate in-person school. “It feels a little bit weird and unfamiliar, but I like being in-person more than being on my computer on Zoom every single day,” she said.