The First Day

There are always a lot of emotions surrounding the start of a new school year. For some, the new school year brings excitement over buying new school supplies, getting new clothes, and getting to see friends again. Others are nervous over finding new classes, meeting new teachers, and the pressures of assignments. And some are sad over the end of summer and the return to normal. However you feel about the first day of school, there is no preventing its inevitable coming. For the John Cooper School, August 12th kicked off the start of the new school year.

In quite the contrast to the previous year, all three divisions started the year in-person with a full day of school. The first day of school felt oddly normal compared to what was happening in the wider world. The daily number of COVID-19 infections in the area were on the rise again, bringing uncertainty the week prior to the start of school. The announcement that masks would be required did not come out until the week before everyone was meant to be back on campus. Besides the need to wear masks indoors, everything else seemed to be going back to normal. Desks were rearranged back to their pre-COVID placement and the plastic dividers between the desks were put away. The dividers in the Student Center and on the picnic tables were also taken down. The green tape down the middle of the hallways was torn up and the arrows directing traffic in the buildings were taken away as well. The hand sanitizer remained throughout various buildings, and the chairs bought for last year to give more seating still littered the grounds, but it looked like most of the campus had gone back to normal. 

Another return to normal was the reinstatement of the pre-COVID dress code, lockers, and attendance policy. The new dress code was very similar to the one from the 2019-2020 school year, but with a few alterations. The days of t-shirts and athletic bottoms were over as Cooper transitioned back towards the pre-COVID world. Another step in this was the ability to use lockers again, which students set-up in the days prior to school starting. The consensus seems to be that lockers are a welcomed addition this year, with one person saying, “my back is happy,” as students no longer need to carry around all their belongings the entire day. Another change from the prior year was students could no longer come late or leave early if they had study halls, and everyone had to stay on campus for lunch. While most were not happy with this news, it helped add to the atmosphere of a return to normal.

This year’s first day of school resembled a time that almost seemed forgotten. People stood in the hallways, opening lockers and talking to friends. While everyone could only see each other’s eyes, it felt the closest we had gotten to pre-COVID school in a long time. There was even an assembly the second day of school, with the entire Upper School packed into the GPAC. While there is always a sense of dread and apprehension that comes with the start of a new school year, it also felt good to be back to some semblance of normal. Junior Hannah Wene summed up some of the emotions of going back to school best, by saying “I felt happy meeting new people and it felt great to see everybody again. I was happy to get back to a schedule.” The first day of school encompassed so much and set the tone for the rest of the year. Starting a new school year can be hard, but this year’s start went well and allowed everyone to adjust to the new policies and navigate how this new normal would work. Who knows how the rest of the year will go, but at least Cooper started off on the right foot with a good first day.