Your first day back to school can be one of the most nerve-wracking days in your childhood. What if you had four of them, all in a row? Because of PA Department of Education guidelines during the COVID pandemic, Tuesday, September 1 to Friday, September 4 were all the first day of school.

 

“I was prepared for today. Kinda wasn’t planned.I think they did really well and that they were prepared for today,” said freshman Atticus Kardell. We started with the last names of A-K going on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the same schedule ran for the students on Thursday and Friday. with the last name starting with L-Z. Just like years before, we ran a day one and day two schedule, when our school day is separated into two school days. For A-K last names they got a more normal first day and all the pros and cons of the new year. They got to get up early, get ready in the mirror, pack a lunch, while the L-Z group is still most likely asleep. 

“Being online the first two days was complicated at first, but going back to school on Thursday cleared up most of the confusion about the new school year. Even though we were the second group, I still felt that the teachers tried their best to make our first day as normal as possible,” Sophomore Catrina Raich commented. For all students, meeting new teachers is a very important part of a first day.

Making your first impression on the first day is important, but some couldn’t do it in person. A-K was able to meet teachers in person while L-Z had to somewhat meet their teachers online. While Group A followed a bell schedule in the high school,  L-Z was able to fit a 5 hour already scheduled day into whatever schedule that fit their sleep schedule and needs. Because of Covid-19 guidelines, we must be social distancing, so classes are small, and there was a lot of opportunity to meet new teachers one on one. “{I was} generally feeling pretty good about the year but anticipating some not-so-great aspects, especially about being online.” said junior Maria Babusci.

   There were also students who started at home but never came in. Avonworth started the Virtual Academy to offer a completely online version of courses and over 70 children were enrolled as of the first day of the year. Day 1 and Day 2 are much less of a factor for virtual students, who work on days when they are free and have to sort through conflicting class times or other responsibilities. Many students noticed a number of differences virtually but were glad to start the year and get through the initial challenges of virtual schooling.    

A challenge for all students, virtual or hybrid, was scheduling.  A number of students had one, two, or three classes they added or dropped, adding another layer of new paths and routines at the start of a highly unusual year.

While there were challenges and adjustments, returning back to the high school for the first time since the Friday, March 13th state government shutdown included a number of positive moments, too. A common theme among the students who we spoke to was happiness that they could connect with their friends in person, many of whom they haven’t seen for months, whether that be in shared classes or conversations at lunch.

Other students expressed their relief that most of their teachers were well-prepared for the new environment. Maria Babusci says, “There was a more relaxed atmosphere, and because there were fewer people, classes were less chaotic. Lead was also good, as it is a good way to ease into the day. Generally, I am feeling pretty good about this year.” Allison Beck, a senior, said she was just happy to “be in a totally new environment with all of the COVID protocol.”

 

Written by members of the Journalism 1 class: Kadance McCartan, Lilliana McGregor, Eliza Rapp, Hayzes Robinson, Brayden Simmons, and Laurel Purcell.

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