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Pictured above: Claire in Costa Rica for Winterim earlier this year.

Senior Spring in Quarantine

by Claire L. ’20

On March 12th, I walked through the halls of the Upper School with a gloomy disposition. I was upset that the school had to close when I, a twelfth grader, already had so little time left at the school that I love so much. With senior internships nearing rapidly, I only had two months left before leaving. I tried to enjoy every moment that I could as I made my way to yoga class. Once I was there, I heard the news: all schools in Washington had to close until April 24th, six weeks instead of three weeks. Later, I heard another announcement with news that all schools had to close until the end of the school year. I was completely devastated. Obviously I knew that any measure to protect the health of the most vulnerable Washingtonians was absolutely necessary, but I still felt very upset about what I was missing. Prom would have to be rescheduled, senior internships would be altered, the One Act Festival would be canceled, spring sports would be canceled, and I would have less time to spend with my friends before we go off to our post-graduation lives. On the 13th, the last day before the school closure began, we seniors took in everything we could: our sports practices, our improv shows, our classes, and our time spent with friends. We knew that they could be our last. With the future uncertain, only one thing was clear to us: we were robbed.

So, what now? After constantly having schoolwork to keep myself busy, I found that I had a lot of time on my hands. A lot of us have taken up some new hobbies: people have started baking, playing instruments, and working out. I have had more time to read and play video games with my friends, activities that I usually only have time to do in the summer. Now that Zoom classes have resumed, I have come as close to my normal routine as I can. Zoom classes have caused some funny situations. Dogs barking, cats walking across keyboards, family members walking past cameras, and accidental microphone unmuting are common occurrences. “Can you hear me?” has become the most common phrase I hear every day. To keep in touch, my friends and I video chat on Zoom practically every day now. I have the same free block as three of my best friends, and we always do homework together like we normally would at school. Even though we cannot be together physically, it is a lot of fun to spend time with each other virtually.

One thing that has been bizarre is receiving decisions back from colleges. Most mail has been delayed, and a lot of online decisions come out rather randomly, off-schedule from when they normally would. My friends and I celebrated our college acceptances together on FaceTime instead of in person. Normally, seniors would be wearing their college sweatshirts to school on chilly days, and people would be marking where they would be heading in the fall on a map on the senior stage. But, this year, a lot of us are out of the loop. The other day, my parents asked me where people are going to college, and I truly have no idea where most of my fellow seniors are going, especially if I do not have any classes with them. May Day is usually my favorite day of the year because all of the seniors brandish their college sweatshirts and take a class photo outside. This year, our teachers have sneakily hinted at a Zoom-based May Day, so I am excited to see how it plays out.

Since I have been away from the campus for a month, I have learned just how much school means to me. It is so easy to take daily life for granted, and I now more than ever realize how fortunate we are to be a part of such an amazing community. Because our school is so small, we have the opportunity to connect with everyone around us: students, parents, faculty, and staff alike. As we have switched to remote learning, every Tarrier has worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. Time in our virtual classrooms has been incredibly valuable for me. Not only is it nice to see everyone’s faces, but we also manage to continue learning as we normally would. Even my most technology-hating teacher has become an expert on all things Zoom.

The faculty, administration, and student government have worked especially hard to keep us educated and connected, and I am so grateful for all of their effort. They keep the community connected as we are far away from each other, particularly for the senior class. Because our spring had to be canceled, they continue to work hard to give us a sense of togetherness and, eventually, closure. The senior class Co-Leaders, Sarah Thomason and Erica Julian, created a hilarious video following the daily lives of Charles Wright seniors. They also, along with Mr. Bishop and Ms. Ezzo, asked us to list what was important to us about our senior spring so that they can find ways to create a comparable experience for us. Our teachers and administrators offered their constant emotional support as we navigate our new socially-distant lives. Every one of my conversations with a teacher has always begun with “How are you doing?” and I can see that they truly care about how their students are feeling.

Though ending my time at Charles Wright like this is not ideal, I am incredibly grateful that I would get the chance to be a part of a caring, diligent, and tight-knit community at all. It is easy to feel distant and isolated given the current state of the world, but instead of sinking into grief, we have banded together and refused to lose our wonderful community. This isolation may feel like it will last forever — at least it does for me — but we will see each other in person again. If anyone can make it through these difficult times, it is us.