By Dunn Neugebauer, Holder of lots of jobs, Author, Coach, Nice Guy
Holy Innocents' Episcopal School opened the 2020-2021 academic year Thursday, Aug. 13. It was a full return for many, virtual for others, and – on top of this – there was cement being poured on the new construction of the Humanities Building, which created updated routes to-and-from not only classes, but at carpool as well. In short, the first days of school provided HIES with a little of everything – a ringing out the old and ringing in the new, if you will.
What were some of the thoughts on the new year and the reopening?
Rebecca Rivera, Upper School English teacher, had this to say about the opening of a new school year in these unique times:
"It was great to be back to a 'sense of normalcy,' even if it was through a computer screen. Also, it was great to reconnect with the kids again, getting to know them and building relationships. This school is and always has been about building relationships."
In the Middle School, the doors opened wide and the kids walked in for the first time since March 12. There was energy, pep and vigor in the halls and Maureen Danzig, English teacher and dean, expressed positivity about the day.
"We never know what we are able to do as the HIES community until we are given a challenge where everyone is needed to follow guidelines and support each other. Still, we make it work. We always push through against the challenges and seeing those faces in the classroom and remotely made my heart so happy."
The sentiments were similar moving down the age/grade lines – as life resumed in the Lower School and Primary School with the kids also returning. Fourth-grade teacher Laura Harrell was one who was more than ready to get back into action on that opening day.
"What a great day today was! Even while wearing face masks, the students were so excited to be back at school with their friends, making new ones and seeing the teachers they love! For me, being back with my students and coworker-friends is just what the doctor ordered. HIES is my home away from home, and boy did I miss it!"
And in the Primary School, Principal Greg Kaiser also commented with all smiles.
"Our first days back have been an unqualified success. It is no secret that young children are remarkably resilient, much more so than us 'grown-ups.' Our Primary School students proved that time and time again during our first few days. The kids were laughing, playing and learning, just like they always do – they just happened to be wearing masks while doing it. The masks may hide part of their faces, but we had smiling eyes filling every classroom!"
In closing, we used to live in a day-by-day world, now it appears things are moment-to-moment – with changes occurring at the speed of your next email. Still, the opening days were Golden when they wrapped up – regardless of where the learning took place, the progress of the construction or the newness of where the kids were picked up.
Voices filled hallways that had been silent for too many months. Classrooms were in use, in order, some of them with desks socially-distantly filled. Teachers taught. Kids learned.
And perhaps one of the best sounds of all – that sound of school bells ringing every hour or so, which reminded our youth that schedules still exist, there are places still to go.
Ah … that sweet sense of normalcy.