Hearing campus filled with the laughter and chatter of students has been a welcoming sound after spending the spring apart. We hope that everyone has enjoyed the excitement of the new school year, despite the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are lucky to create a “Hotchkiss bubble”—the location of our school gives us the opportunity to isolate ourselves from the outside world and reduce the chance of an outbreak. For this to work, every member of the community must do their part to uphold the Community Compact. While relaxing and loosening up our adherence to safety protocols over the coming weeks and months may be tempting, we must not forget the seriousness of the pandemic: cases of COVID-19 may be a life-or-death situation for certain community members. Let’s not waste our unique opportunity to safely hold an in-person school experience.
While our actions on campus are important, we must not forget the students who are studying remotely this semester. Over 60 of our fellow classmates, teammates, and friends are beginning the year online. Learning online, separated from the rest of the community, can be an incredibly isolating experience. We all experienced it this spring: those moments of loneliness and a longing for the sense of belonging that only comes with being together in Lakeville. So if you are on campus, while you attend classes and co-curricular activities, make an extra effort to reach out to your fellow Bearcats who cannot be with you in-person: schedule a video call, study together, or play some games. We are stronger as a community when everyone is connected and included.
And most importantly, we must ensure that the fall semester on campus goes well so it is possible for everyone to return in January.
Often, the tone that we as a community set at the beginning of the year can determine how we end the year. How do we want to remember the 2020-2021 school year? The year that we failed to control outbreaks on campus and miserably retreated to learning on Zoom? Or the year that we joined together in the face of difficulty and overcame the challenges of the pandemic, triumphantly thriving within a successful in-person learning experience?
It doesn’t matter whether you are a new Prep or a four-year Senior—we are all pioneers of a new page in the school’s history. We all have the opportunity to lead in this new situation by fulfilling our responsibilities to each other. Let’s uphold our commitment to safety and inclusion. Let’s demonstrate the strength of our bond as a community.