Redefining Normal

Riya Gupta, Editor-In-Chief

The date is March 12, 2020. Sage Hill students, faculty, and staff file into the Ube gymnasium following a quick announcement that was made during early morning B block. There is an excited chatter, but also a sense of unease. The Covid-19 virus has taken over the headlines, and the pandemic has now spread close to home. 

A hush falls over the crowd as Head of School Patricia Merz approaches the podium. Her words almost echo across the room: School will be moved to a distance learning format for two weeks. If it is safe to do so, everyone will return to campus after spring break. 

This announcement was met with mixed reactions – celebratory music blaring from a student’s phone, cheers across the gym, and a few hugs and solemn faces. No one quite knew how to react, but everyone knew this was the frontier of unprecedented times for recent generations. 

“When Ms. Merz made the announcement, I kind of heard what was going on but I didn’t really know what was happening at the same time, and it was kind of a shock,” said senior Catherine Herrick. “I remember exiting the school with all the other students and not going to practice, and it was kind of weird because nothing like this has ever happened before.”

For current seniors and juniors, that day is probably one of your most memorable at Sage Hill. At the time, we had little to no idea that the next time all of us would be back on campus would be 18 months later. As for the current underclassmen, some of you had to navigate through the end of middle school and adapt to high school life through a virtual format during a time when abnormality was the new normal. 

“Meeting my classmates on zoom last year felt formal and impersonal,” said sophomore Alia Sajjadian. 

The past year and a half was a struggle for the Sage Hill faculty and staff as well, as they had to quickly adapt to the distance learning modality in order to preserve the school’s quality of education. Zoom fatigue and quarantine boredom was not unique to students. 

“It was harder to make personal connections with students, so I don’t really miss that part of distance learning,” said science teacher and senior advisor Mrs. Rutherford.

The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of anxiety, worry, and uncertainty, and these feelings continue to linger upon the arrival of the 2021-2022 school year. How do we attempt to acclimate to what was normal when the pandemic continues to devastate millions across the globe? Is it even possible to truly return to what we called normal? 

In the present day, it seems that the answers are simply “we do our best” and “sort of.” Masks will still have to be worn indoors, hand sanitizer dispenser stands will remain posted around campus, and Covid-19 testing will continue for unvaccinated members of the community. But normalcy is making its comeback. Athletic events are taking place, dances are being hosted, and perhaps most importantly, the student body is back on campus in its entirety. This image is a stark contrast to the bare campus seen one year ago. 

“It’s very different seeing so many people here at once,” said senior Dina Khabaz. “It almost feels normal. Overall it’s good seeing everyone again.”

“There was such a difference in the energy and collective excitement about being physically on campus,” said Sajjadian.

How long will this version of normal last? Another answer that is unknown. However, we, the Sage Hill community, must continue to be determined and optimistic about the future. Although school life — and everyday life at that matter — may not return to the traditional normal anytime soon, this current redefinition of normal is a step in the right direction.