The sun was creeping over the hills just as the car headlights began to appear. “Here we go,” we said to ourselves with cautious optimism. The first day of school is always special, filled with anxious excitement and eager hopefulness, but this day was different. After months of uncertainty and hearing new normal ad nauseam, this didn’t just feel like a new school year, but a new life.
Our new normal was evident as the first students arrived, smiles replaced by masks and good morning greetings with a temperature check. All of the changes, this new normal, felt daunting.
As the day went on, however, with its morning prayers and math lessons, the groggy layers of this new normal that make us wonder if all this is even worth it began to dissipate, revealing this eternal truth: we were made for this. A need to be together has always been, and always will be, the normal.
One of the most insidious consequences of this pandemic is the effects it has had on children’s mental and emotional health.’ Human beings are wired for connection and designed for community. After observing small moments in each classroom, it was clear that our students had been missing something that technology simply can’t satisfy. Social distancing quickly morphed into social isolation and our students have been longing for community, craving friendship.
As the week went on, students became more comfortable, and although you could have missed the smiles under their masks, their eyes sparkled with wonder and contentment.
An Upper School student expressed that the low point of his summer was learning school would be delayed another month. One Lower School student remarked that this had been the best week of his life. This matters.
As I walked the halls, I heard joy express itself in laughter, and love express itself in lessons. If an education is about learning how to live life well, to navigate this world with wisdom and love, there is no time like the present to learn together–to be together.