Students Return to Find a New, New-Normal

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Source: minutemanpressbuffalo

By Sarah Brunskill

Let’s Zoom out and take a look at this year. We are back in the building, masked up, and ready to get back to normal. I sent out a survey and students added some input on how getting back into “normal” is for them. 

Bella Nestico, a junior, said, “It has definitely been a change, and getting back into a routine has been a bit challenging.” It’s hard to get back into our old ways and habits. Junior Sabrina Burker added, “ I feel like I won’t be fully prepared for tests because last year they were not that serious compared to freshman year and prior years.” Going from a computer screen to fully in-person school is a pretty big change. It’s hard to return to something that will probably not be the same. While some are saying that this transition is difficult for them, others feel like just being able to step back into the school makes it easier to go back to our old routines.  Senior Simone Brock said, “I think everything is pretty smooth, and it’s nice to go back to old ways.” 

Not only does being back in the building help us get back into our old ways, but so do our clubs and events. Our school events are able to help guide us in the direction of our old normal and hopefully create a new and better normal. Recently, we had our home opener football game with attendance that we haven’t seen since before Covid. We have many more games to come this season, and many of our other team sports’ games to attend.Plus, the school’s brand new music wing opened up and is back in business. Our clubs are starting back up, many of which are in person.

Like the school newspaper… hint hint. 

Another event bringing back our old normal is homecoming and homecoming week. The incoming freshman and sophmores have never experienced a Will East homecoming week. The theme is decades so go ask your parents if you can dig through their closets for some outfits. Many other activities that are garnering excitement are seeing friends in person, having a better learning environment, sports, and meeting teachers in person. 

So far we are barely a couple weeks into school, and out of 15 students surveyed 85.7 percent said they like this year better than last year. They said this mainly for the reasons above — friends, better learning environment, freedom, etc.. 14.3 percent said they preferred last year. Annika Mahshie, a freshman, said, “I was more comfortable and had more of my friends in middle school.” Bella Nestico agreed; “Last year was much more relaxed.” Being in the school environment can be much more intense than our year of Zoom. Even though most of the students surveyed said that they prefer this year, they still have things that they will miss from last year.

Wednesdays. A word that was repeated in my survey many times. I think we will all miss having that day to ourselves to get our work done and take a breather. Not only do students miss our Wednesdays, but they also miss the ability to eat a snack whenever they want. Now we are stuck in the commons or the gym to eat. Junior Colleen Meosky said she will miss “Cats visiting classes and the ability to make fried bologna for lunch.” Pets in school make it so much more enjoyable, students said.

In a question geared towards freshmen and sophomores (“Do you think the pandemic impacted your ability to find your classes?”), some juniors and seniors struggled equally.  After being absent so long, it was almost like they were seeing our East halls for the first time. Grace Kaiser said, “I’m a junior and could not find my first class to save the life of me. Sabrina Burker said, “No, definitely not. I was easily able to find them, especially because I was a Link Leader and helped at Orientation. so I was able to get back into the groove of knowing where all the classrooms are.” Luckily, once you get back into the groove of navigating the school, it won’t be as difficult. 

Going back to school and going back to normal are two completely different things. After asking, “Do you think our school year will ever be back to ‘normal’?”  a senior who would prefer to remain anonymous responded with, “No. Until the vaccine is mandated, we are still going to have to social distance and wear our masks, and I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.” Grace Kaiser said, “It is right now as normal as it is going to get, and other than the masks I think it’s pretty normal right now.” With less restrictrictions than last year many students are hoping that as rules and restrictions are reduced safely we can return to our normal. 

For now students are going to have to stick to the QR coded four to a table lunch in the commons and our masks. As well as keeping one’s distance 6 feet from each other. 

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