The New Normal: Life at DHS in the age of a pandemic
By The Dragon Flyer Staff: Arden Y, Kira B, Claire T, Juliana B, Meghan B, Alex B, Ryan H, Sarah C, and Hannah S.
It has officially been a month of quarantine for DHS, and it seems to be slowly morphing into “The New Normal.” With work being given out weekly, the occasional Zoom class, and the only option being to stay at home, it would be an understatement to say that this situation is anything but normal. The uncertainty surrounding this pandemic and its unprecedented nature has been a source of anxiety globally. Locally, seniors are distraught with the loss of the end of their special year and events like prom as well as graduation are at the mercy of Covid-19. But it seems like students and teachers alike are finding ways to adjust, stay positive and spend their time in a meaningful way.
After March 13, it became apparent that life at Duxbury High School was changing, at least in the short run. School was cancelled for two weeks, and many students were excited for what seemed like a spontaneous break, free from schoolwork. But two days later, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker mandated that all Massachusetts schools close for a period of three weeks. At first, no schoolwork was mandated, although recommended assignments were posted as an optional way to keep up with the curriculum. After a record low amount of interaction was reported on schoology, the school administrators began to draft a new solution. Later, on March 30, online school began. It was time for a new way of learning, a digitized version of the in-person experience students were so accustomed to.
The virtual classrooms, weekly zoom meetings, and online schoolwork is something that Duxbury High School has never experienced before. It is a very weird time for everyone because no one knows when/if school will return this year. Junior Emma R doesn’t mind online school, but she feels that it could be better.
Others feel differently, Freshman Jess S explains how hard the first week of online school was to adjust to. “It felt like teachers were just throwing us so much work, but I guess they didn’t really know what was going on either,”
“I feel like it’s fine, not great, but it’s the least the school can do. Also there’s a ton of technical issues that I’ve experienced.”
The biggest issue with online school is that because all students are trying to get onto Schoology at once, the website has been incredibly slow and even stopped working completely at one point. This issue has been worked out and now online school is running pretty smoothly. This will continue until Duxbury High School returns to school and hopefully everything runs okay and that there will be no more technical issues that keep students from completing their work.
While many students are stressed, sophomore Elana K is enjoying the amount of free time she has now.
“I think the rest of the year may be cancelled because the cases are only going up. But I’m not very concerned. Freshmen are sad about their first year being ruined, seniors about their last, and juniors about colleges and SATs, but most sophomores aren’t really concerned.”
Korey says Chick-Fil-A, her place of employment, is taking extra precautions to keep the establishment sanitary and safe, and she’s using her extra time to eat healthy and exercise. The one problem? “It’s hard for me to focus on school when I’m not around other people learning.”
Meanwhile, while seniors are dealing with the loss of their senior spring, juniors have other worries. Sara M, for example, finds herself being very concerned about college planning.
“I’m very worried about college apps because I can’t really tour anywhere right now and the campus is a very important part of college. I’m not as worried about SATs and ACTs because many of the schools I’m planning to apply to have dropped their requirements for these” Sara said.
However, that doesn’t mean the junior class has no concerns about their junior prom.
“I’m very concerned about missing prom because I honestly don’t think it will be back to normal by June but I’m really hoping we still have it because my friends and I were very excited to go and we all had dates sorted out, so the stressful part was sort of over,” said Sara.
The big question that must have been plaguing everyone’s minds at the beginning of this break was what they might do with all of this time. Jackson L, a senior at DHS, is keeping himself busy.
“A lot of sleeping, playing games, spending time with my family, a lot of driving and photography.”
It can be seen that one will have to make the best of this break in order to get anything out of it. The tailend of this school year is certainly an interesting one with many ups and downs and it’s not even close to finished yet. With all of this time that everyone has it can give ample opportunity for enjoying the things you love.
Not just students are keeping busy during quarantine. Mr. Mael, a history teacher at DHS, is making the most of his time in quarantine, but he also misses his students.
“It’s tough being away from school for this long because I really do love it,” said Mr. Mael. On the positive side, he noted, “I looked at this time off as a chance to try new things and experiment with hobbies I’ve always talked about picking up but never have.”
Mr. Mael is working on a musical with his friend, practicing rapping, and birdwatching. He even started a competition called DuxBirds, wherein the DHS community can look for birds, take pictures, and send them in to Mr. Mael’s email. The winner will get a prize, but the competition is all in good fun and a good way to keep in touch with your fellow students and peers.
“I think it’s human nature to be social,” Mr. Mael said, “we’ve been a social species since we evolved. Being physically apart is very difficult on even the most mentally healthy humans so the antidote to that is to stay connected.”
“Think about all of your relationships like those with your friends, your family, your teachers, your coaches, etc. and make sure you’re remaining in contact with them. Also try to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while, this is the perfect time to reconnect. In difficult times like this it’s really important that you don’t isolate yourself mentally. There’s still a whole world out there and we’re lucky that we have the technology to talk someone anywhere in it.”
As Counting Crows sang in their hit Big Yellow Taxi, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. For many DHS students, this forced absence of school has highlighted the subtle but positive roles school has on their lives.
Freshman Maggie C. explained that she misses the social aspect of DHS the most.
“I do enjoy staying home and not going to classes, but I miss all my friends that I would get to see at school every day,” she said.
Senior Charlie C. agrees. “I think this quarantine is pushing us apart because in our daily sphere of interaction we aren’t seeing the vast majority of our classmates,” he said. “The people we consider our school friends, who we interact with a lot at school, we aren’t talking to at all now.”
For senior Jackson L, social distancing has changed his lifestyle. “I can’t hang around with people, movie nights are done, I can’t grab a table at Chick-Fil-A anymore,” said Jackson. “It is a bit of a challenge but I am just grateful that I have some good hobbies.”