By Doug Poskitt, Associate Head of School
The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same
Stepping back on campus last week felt like a homecoming. After a prolonged absence that spanned eight weeks due to the recent remote teaching period and two well-deserved breaks, I was eager to see what things looked like. Would the morning sun still reflect off the facades of WA’s stately buildings? Would the snow remain in its neatly ordered piles? Would the return of students and teachers enliven the campus once again? Would the smell of preparing lunch permeate the campus air? Would the afternoon sun cast long shadows across the Quad? Thankfully, the answer to all of these questions was a resounding “yes.”
Returning to campus after a two-month hiatus prompted me to wonder what would be different now in the new year as opposed to before Thanksgiving. Surely, with such a long period of inactivity on campus, there would have to be many discernible changes. Well, the first thing that I (and many others) noticed was the absence of the tents on the Quad. COVID testing for all community members now would be in the library, not under the tents. More than a few students sported new sneakers, a new coat, or a brand new pair of warm mittens. Clearly, they had been good children this past year. Others walked about their usual routes to and from class without missing a beat, despite the prolonged departure from their campus routine. I soon realized that recognizing things that were different would be a lot harder than seeing the familiar.
Of course, social distancing and mask-wearing continued to be the norm. They’re part of the daily regimen now, just like brushing our teeth or washing our hands. Students and teachers soon remembered which flight of stairs went up and which went down in each building, which door to push to enter and which door to exit. The lunch routine looked similar in Adams and the Megaron, but now shifted locations indoors for eating. Students continued to gather between classes near signs clearly posted for all to see. These frequent transitions allow each of us some fresh air, exercise, and the opportunity to prepare for what comes next. Well, the weather certainly has gotten colder, but our students continue to follow the now–familiar routine during their time on campus.
Our dedicated teachers continue to work tirelessly to inspire and support our students. Simultaneously teaching those students in class plus those remote students from multiple time zones around the world continues to be an enormous challenge. Our students benefit from the extraordinary efforts of their teachers. Now that we are back into a routine, it is customary to see teachers arrive before seven o’clock and often stay until the late afternoon, if not into the evening. Regardless of the means of instruction or the weekly academic schedule, one thing remains true at WA—we have some of the most caring and dedicated teachers you will ever find. They are the Academy’s single greatest resource.
So just as the seasons might change and the days might shorten, other aspects of a WA education remain firmly in place, despite the pandemic. Our students appreciate firsthand the significance of the Academy’s Core Values of Personal Growth and Challenge as they are prompted to think critically about issues that impact the world around them. They take Responsibility for their actions and contribute in many ways to this Community, both in and out of the classroom. And whether or not someone is looking, they act with Honor for they know how fortunate they are to be a part of Worcester Academy. For as you can see … “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”