design and illustration: Sorina Larsen
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually everything, one of the biggest being schools and their students. As a result, this school year saw many differing events from past years.
The school district made the decision to start the school year two weeks later than usual and on a hybrid schedule, meaning students would only be going to school for about half of the week and learning virtually for the other half. While there were mixed feelings about this, many students seemed to agree with this decision.
“I originally thought that it would be difficult to not be in school every day, but I wasn’t necessarily unhappy about it because I knew that we needed to take precautions to keep people safe,” junior Meghan Moser said.
In addition, the school year also saw the cancellation of several school events that have occurred in previous years, such as homecoming and junior prom. Furthermore, there was also limited attendance to sporting events, including football games, which are very popular amongst the student body.
“I [thought] it was sad that we had to cancel so many fun events. However, I do think it was necessary to do for the safety of all the students, even if it was a bit disappointing.” Moser said.
While several events were cancelled this year, the school was still able to host other events, such as Senior Thanksgiving. However, the annual event looked a bit different this year, as it was split up into two separate time slots rather than the usual unified event with all seniors.
“Everything was organized really well and I felt like the school did a good job of making it as normal as possible. I really enjoyed the food and had a great time with my friends despite the circumstances,” senior Morgan Woycitzky said.
The school year changed drastically in February 2021, as superintendent Mark Raiff announced that all Olentangy schools would be returning to a “normal” schedule, and students would be returning to school five days a week.
“I saw a trend in a positive direction, meaning the cases are going down and the quarantines are going down,” Raiff said when explaining the reasoning behind going back full time. “The biggest thing I wanted to avoid was having us have to return to the fully remote learning again.”
This decision was met with a lot of controversy. Some students were very happy with this decision, as they were eager to get back to as much normalcy as possible. However, other students felt that this change was not necessary.
“I wasn’t really on board with the idea of going back full time because I didn’t see the point in going back to school with such a short time left of the school year,” Moser said. “I was definitely hoping to keep the hybrid model when they first announced that we would be going full time.”
Even though some did not agree with it, the decision to go back full time allowed for more events to be able to happen, especially those dedicated to seniors. One of these was senior prom, as it was announced that this year it would be a ‘Senior Zoo Gala’, an outdoors event hosted at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
“I know safety is the biggest concern but I wish more was done to make the event as normal as possible,” Woycitzky said. “I am still looking forward to the event and am glad that we are still able to do something.”
The plans for the biggest senior event of the year, graduation, were announced in late March. In a letter to students and parents, Raiff and the four Olentangy principals stated that this year’s graduation ceremony will differ from years past, as it will consist of three parts: a senior sunset salute, a commencement walk and a virtual graduation ceremony. The majority of students were surprised with this announcement, especially considering that everybody was back in school full time.
“I was a little disappointed to hear about the graduation plans for this year as well. I was hoping for regular graduation, or something close to it,” Woycitzky said.
With the emergence of COVID-19, this school year has undoubtedly been unlike any other and will likely be remembered by all students and staff for many more years to come.