Opinion: A reflection on first semester


Photo by Rachel Johns

Regina Cummings ‘24 decorates a pumpkin during a social distanced dorm activity in Ferry Hall. Many dorm events had to altered or scrapped to fit social distancing guidelines. These new parameters have pushed dorm parents, proctors, and dorm councils to come up with new, creative activties.

Rachel Johns, Managing Editor of News

When I started high school, I imagined the worst thing I would face would be allnighters to finish boatloads of homework. This year has proven my freshman naivety wrong, as we are in the midst of a global pandemic that has inhibited our ability to connect with one another physically, socially, and emotionally. Looking back, this semester has undoubtedly been one of the bleakest points in LFA’s history for reasons well beyond everyone’s control. Though I do want to take a moment to express my deep gratitude for all the faculty, staff, and students who worked hard to illuminate our small corner of a darkening world.

I arrived on campus in late August after a series of shaking global and personal events. In years past, I said I wanted summer to never end, but this year school couldn’t come fast enough. I was ecstatic to return to campus and to see my friends, albeit under strict social distancing measures. After months of isolation, I felt as though every fiber of my being radiated sheer joy since I was just so thrilled to even be at school.

Excitement, however, is blinding. At first, I couldn’t sense how deeply I missed the things that made LFA what it is. I longed to play my own sports and to go support all my friends at their games. I wanted to go to the club fair and meet new people interested in the same things. I missed having massive House Cup competitions and hearing goofy announcements at morning meetings in Cressey. As the hours of daylight waned throughout the semester, so did my excitement and passion. I was a supernova of elation, and like a dying star, I was fated to collapse in on myself.

Loneliness, which pervaded even in the company of friends (through no fault of their own), opened my eyes to how empty this past semester has felt. It’s my and most boarding students’ first time living without a roommate in the dorms. While I initially looked forward to having a single, I found myself alone almost as often as I had over the summer. I find myself coveting the annoyance of sharing a room from years past, like late-night door slams and lamps left on 24/7. Those inconveniences conveniently reminded you that you weren’t alone, even when you wanted to be.

Pain is magnified under the spotlight of isolation. While we are all experiencing similar events and feelings during this pandemic, the lack of social connections and outlets makes us feel more alone than ever before. The cruel irony of this age is that we feel more isolated despite the hyperconnectivity offered by the internet. The most strenuous thing is that in order to connect in person in the future, we have to continue to social distance and uphold COVID-19 protocols. By no means am I suggesting that anyone should disregard rules and recommendations surrounding COVID-19. Such selfish carelessness is what pro longed this situation in the first place.

The other day, I was decluttering the photos on my phone, and I was jarred by what I saw. Life was so vibrant before. Perhaps it’s the early nightfalls of winter or the stress from exams, but I could see life getting grayer and emptier in photographs. There are still dashes of color throughout this year, and I am immensely grateful for those who have put them there. My friends and classmates have brought much needed positive energy with them to school each day, even though they are all experiencing loss and pain themselves all while adhering to strict measures. All of the faculty, especially the dorm parents, have worked so hard to ensure our physical, emotional, and mental well-being as they simultaneously work to move the curriculum online. The staff has helped so much by keeping our community clean, healthy, and safe. Their cheer and kindness is exemplary. The school has done its best to boost morale and have fun events for us in this difficult time. I am incredibly grateful to be part of such an outstanding community.

Being home and learning online has come as a relief. Because I am not on campus 24/7, I don’t have to be constantly reminded of the experiences I’m missing out on. Returning home has also allotted me a bit more freedom in my leisure time. Instead of being locked down on campus, I can at least go to a park or hiking trail. It’s also nice to see my parents and dogs after months of not being home. While I don’t love e-learning, it has been a needed change of pace.

With the end of the semester, I feel something that I haven’t strongly felt in quite some timehope. Vaccines will be circulating soon, so hopefully anti-COVID measures will relax a bit. We may be able to connect the distance between us soon enough. I am hopeful life will bloom again in the spring semester.