By Griffin Winter ’21
Around one year ago, during the last day of the Summit on Human Dignity, we were told that we would return to school on the following Monday. That was not the case. Everyone at Brophy went online due to COVID-19 and the rest is history. The class of 2021 is about to graduate after having lived in the world of COVID-19 for around 25% of their high school career.
“In retrospect, myself and a lot of my friends feel really bad for the classes below us. They’re the ones who have had the most time impacted and will have the greatest change in their overall Brophy experience,” said former Brophy student and current student at New York University Cooper Parson ’20.
COVID-19 has affected different people in many different ways. For some, they have mourned a loved one, but for others, it was an area of growth.
“Some things that went well were my grades, being able to spend time with my family more, and being able to adapt to a life of COVID. I missed hanging out with my friends, sports, traveling, visiting with family. I think it was a year of growth for a lot of people. Some people started working out more (myself included), finding passions, hobbies. So you can draw some good from the bad, but overall I would call it a pretty bad year,” said current Brophy student Ethan Hasson ’21.
For others, the pandemic was an opportunity to find the value in things that might not have occurred to them before.
“I got to realize how valuable time was. Before the pandemic, I felt like everything had a pace, but now, not so much. I got to focus on myself more in quarantine and I got to think about my friendships,” said another current Brophy student, Zain Rab ’21.
Not only have students been affected by the pandemic, but also the faculty.
“I think in the best and worst ways, people have been pushed. I think this is the most I have learned and the most I have grown as a human being in a year, but it has not been enjoyable at all. It is a double-edged sword, where I can really appreciate the graces, but if you asked me if I would want to go through this again I wouldn’t say yes. But, we have sure learned a lot,” said Mr. Pete Burr ’07.
One answer was unanimous among the people asked, and that was how Brophy as a school has handled its response to the pandemic in a way that people could be proud of.
Rab went on to say “I think Brophy did a really good job in response to the pandemic. I was talking to some of my other friends who go to other schools and they have just been allowed to come back to school, while we have been allowed to go to school for practically the whole year.”
Mr. Burr echoed those opinions, but also followed up what was really important by saying “I have been very proud of the way Brophy has been at the front of most decisions. We have obviously screwed up and learned things, but overall I have been proud of how Brophy has handled things.”
Mr. Burr when on to say that while Brophy has done a good job, he wished he had a bigger focus on the well beings of students.
“If I could go back I would have tried to make a bigger effort to just care for the well beings of human beings. School is very important but in the last year, I think we have learned that some things are more important. Caring for kids’ mental health and well-being is the top of the priority list.”
Still, whether fair or not, students have still felt disappointed by the lack of a traditional high school experience.
Hasson elaborated by saying “Sadly, I don’t feel like I have had the full high school experience due to the pandemic. A bunch of sports, school dances, and even volunteering opportunities and immersion trips were taken from me. It sucks at the moment because you feel like you were robbed. In the end, I think things will turn out okay. But, yeah it was tough to let those things go.”
Rab said it is even hard to remember what it was like before the pandemic. “I got used to what the world is like now, so it is kind of hard to think back to what things were like before. In the grand scheme of things, I missed out on sporting events and the general carefreeness that comes along with senior year. This year was stressful already with college and this made it worse.”
Mr. Burr says that safety has been at the forefront of more and more students coming back to campus as well as opening up students to more and more events. But, he understands the position of the seniors but says that everything is not doom and gloom.
“I think that there has been a lot of graces. I think we have done things that we have never done before. People can easily forget that when you missed a day of school, you just missed a day of school, and you had to come at lunch and make up that test, before you go to that club meeting, before you went to your next class, before you missed another day to get behind again. I think that the stress level has really dropped. There have been some huge perks in terms of flexibility as the byproduct of safety.”
Without the pandemic, there never would have been late-night intramural sports or a broadcasting club. Mr. Burr said that students have stepped up in ways he could never have foreseen.
“The students have gotten really creative with things that will now never go away. We have been dealt a really bad hand for the world, we have tried to be at the top end of the things we can do.”