“I believe we truly lived out our Benedictine Value of community.”
A student reflection on community in COVID
Looking back, it feels like the cloud of COVID came over our school with little anticipation. Although the Prep community had been abuzz about how the virus was affecting many of our international students’ homes and peoples travel plans, it still came as a shock as our school year came to a grinding halt. As many of my classmates returned to their homes and the severity of the situation sunk in, I became overwhelmed by all of the possibilities surrounding what would happen to our community.
On the first Friday we had off to practice distance learning, I felt suffocated by the isolation the situation seemingly presented. How was I going to cope with not seeing my friends? How would I stay engaged with school? How might my family be affected by COVID and how might it change how I was able to perform in the classroom? I stewed over a multitude of these questions before online classes officially began, worrying about how all of these things might culminate to affect my junior year.
Just as quickly as the changes had come upon us, our community seemed to start itself up again and eagerly adjust. I was (happily) inundated with homework, zoom calls, and assigned readings as our teachers explored how best they could convey information through technology. Looking back, every single one of my teachers took time to ask us what was working and what wasn’t for us. It didn’t take long for my worries about my educational content to be replaced with questions about the Iranian Revolution and evolution of the peppered moth.
Within that first week I was not only astonished by the speed with which we faced the new challenges, but the empathy. Knowing what I know about the Prep community, I should not have been surprised by how quickly we rallied around each other. Teachers regularly ask students how we are doing and coping, what issues we are encountering on an individual basis, and how much work we are able to complete during this time. My fellow NHS members and the student council have brought virtual senior celebrations and activities to the community, along with the many online clubs formed by Prep teachers. It didn’t take too long for a sense of normalcy to deep into our everyday zoom interactions.
In light of such trials, I believe we have truly lived out our Benedictine value of community. It is easy to be an involved member of your community when it is in a place you love with your friends everyday. It is a lot harder when we are all spread across the globe. And yet, we have done what seemed to be impossible. My teachers and peers have remained a network of empathy, support, and academic motivation. While some experiences (and biology labs) can really never be made up for, I know have made the absolute best of our situation and truly been astounding participants in our e-community.
11th Grade Student
Saint John’s Preparatory School
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