It’s Great to Be Back…Sort Of?

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Rasmin Islam

Science teacher Ms. Ryan working at her desk.

Rasmin Islam, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s 6:00 A.M. Although still half-asleep, you force yourself out of your comfortable bed to complete your morning routine, rushing to finish before you have to leave the house. As you impatiently sit through the morning traffic, you dread the day that lies ahead. Once you arrive at school, you wish for the day to go by as fast as possible. Seven classes, eight hours, five days a week. After a year and a half of virtual learning, students and teachers nationwide have officially returned to the reality of in-person schooling, and it has been a struggle. 

As a current senior who last entered the school building during her sophomore year, I’ve had mixed feelings about our long-awaited return. As much as I enjoy being able to socialize with friends and participate in school activities, I also miss the flexible block schedules and assignment leniency virtual learning provided. But in spite of those advantages, I look forward to fully adjusting and making the most out of my last year of high school. 

The sentiments of PB teachers and students vary as they too have found the transition back to in-person schooling a bit of a struggle. 

Science teacher Ms. Ryan has seen the first four weeks of school as positive overall, noting that seeing her students face-to-face is a welcome site. “I am glad to be back!” she says. ¨It’s great to see students in person and to hear their voices instead of just a black square on Zoom.” However, she expresses that she has struggled with “getting used to waking up, driving, and getting to PB so much earlier than last year.” Nonetheless, she is thrilled to once again be able to witness all the things that make PB a great place. “The school play, the concerts, the games, the Panther Paw… seeing students take part in activities they love makes me happy.”

Technology Education Resource teacher Ms. Tillett describes her first few weeks as “hectic but fun!” Seeing the “students, staff, and everyone motivated to learn and do new things” has been the highlight of her experience. However, she also conveys that she feels like she’s “running around everywhere” due to the substitute teacher shortage across the county. “When teachers have to stay home sick or with family members, coverage becomes problematic, but everyone is so understanding and empathetic that it’s not that bad,” she states. As the school year progresses, she is excited to encourage more students to pursue STEM jobs and project-based learning opportunities including technology, engineering, and computer science. 

Freshman Ahmir Ingram has not only faced the challenges of returning to in-person schooling but beginning his first year as a high schooler. “I was last at school in the seventh grade, so I’m glad to be back, but it has been scary being at a new school with a lot of new people,” he says. After a full year of school on Zoom, he admits to struggling with “trying to focus in class since I’m used to opening my computer and walking away from it.” Although, he has set goals to prioritize his academics and enjoy his first year of high school as much as possible. “I don’t want there to be a hole in my memories when I think back on my high school experience.”

For senior Raphael Esemeto, the first four weeks have been better than he expected. ¨Academics are a lot more overwhelming than I remembered; and balancing work, my social life, and college applications have been difficult. I wouldn’t say I’m glad to be back, but I’m cool with it,¨ he states. Along with struggling to balance all aspects of his life, he has encountered other obstacles such as “dealing with people, taking tests in person, and readjusting my sleep schedule.” He also notes that some of his teachers haven’t taken into account the fact that students are still in the process of adjusting. “This is evident in the limited retake policies and the ridiculous amount of assignments I’ve received; but hopefully, over time, it’ll get easier.” 

Senior Raphael Esemoto sitting at his desk in AP Calculus BC. (Rasmin Islam)

As we approach the end of our first month of school, it’s clear that teachers and students alike have had various difficulties with adjusting to in-person. But most importantly, we’re all excited for the wonderful opportunities and experiences the school year will bring, especially those that were taken away from us during virtual learning. After we’ve had our fun, particularly us seniors, there will only be two more things left to eagerly anticipate. In the words of Raphael, we’re counting down the days to “graduation and getting out.”