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Quincey Dern reflects on the many changes since the last time she has been on campus.

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Sandra Koretz

Quincey Dern ’22 poses for a photo outside Chalmers on her first day back on campus.

Quincey Dern

For the first time of my entire 2020-2021 school year thus far, I wore jeans to class. While that may seem insignificant to my overall return-to-school perspective, I spent over an hour and a half planning an outfit composed of my everyday white graphic t-shirt, the striped sweater I wore last week, my favorite orca whale socks and said jeans.

Upon pulling into the designated Student Loading curb, Wed. seemed like a typical school day. Having undergone a similar procedure during on-campus activities, entering campus and displaying my Green Pass to security felt completely normal. Head Prefect Jonathan Cosgrove ’21 provided students with KN95 masks. He passed on our Prefect-duty to me, which gave me an opportunity to see more of my classmates. Handing out protective face masks felt strangely ordinary and brought me an immense amount of joy. Standing on the driveway as my peers arrived for school, I thought I had stepped through a time portal, in which life jumped from a year ago to that moment.

When the school community is together on-campus, engaging in a social environment with face-to-face interactions, life feels full. Throughout the past year, my favorite part of the school day – greeting people around campus – has been missing. Since receiving notification of a return to campus, I began to imagine different versions of how seeing everyone would play out. After almost a year away from campus, I feared that I had lost my ability to converse with others and wondered whether or not I would feel too overwhelmed to say hi. The only scenario I hadn’t anticipated, the one in which I felt more comfortable with my peers than ever before, happened to be my reality.

Attending school on Zoom from my cohort classroom posed a challenge, not because of the friends in my room, but because of the new environment. While online school has been challenging, I have adjusted to logging in from my bedroom. The windows, outdoor voices, whiteboard and everything else about the classroom seemed to distract me from the computer screen.

During lunch, I sat with my fellow Prefects Chelsea Cho ’21 and Jade Stanford ’22 at our activities table, where students could check-out a variety of games and crafts to enjoy with their cohort members. When Shanti Hinkin ’22 ventured to our set-up and commissioned me to make her a necklace using the colorful and spunky beads we provided, the school day began to feel more like a summer camp.

I still haven’t seen the new Flag Court cafeteria. While part of me is excited to see the physical changes that have been made to campus this past year, another part of me wants to preserve the image I have from what existed last March.

At 3:25, I met up with my friends on the Quad and said goodbye with the confidence that I would see them again on Monday. While life will never be what it used to, it’s clear that our school community has remained strong. I am positive that the re-integration to campus will continue successfully.