How close to normal will next year look like?

Keyla Holmes, Reporter

While adjusting to the new normal has been difficult for everyone, schools have faced all sorts of challenges to accommodate student’s needs. With the second semester already here, the discussion of how Martin may function has been popular amongst students and faculty. While the desire to return back to normal is present amid the Martin Warriors, everyone is on the edge of their seats as new information arises, and sadly those seats aren’t classroom chairs.

The environment at Martin has been altered to meet Covid protocols, changing the way the school has functioned for years. Due to Martin’s large student body, everyone enjoyed one lunch rather than multiple like some schools experience normally. With talk of the upcoming school year, the lunch situation has been of concern along with the many other questions students and teachers pose. While so many questions are to be left unanswered at this time, the predictions and hopes for lunch and other aspects of Martin culture have been swarming around.

“I think we’ll go back to the one lunch,” history teacher Gerri Brown said.

Though it can be difficult to make informed predictions for the upcoming school year, the hope for a more interactive and “normal” way of experiencing school is thoroughly expressed, especially in terms of lunch – arguably the most social part of the school day.

“I would like everyone back,” Brown said. “Normally at lunch, my class is filled with kids and we’re always talking and discussing and that’s my happy place.”

Reflecting on how school life functioned, Brown said she is still hopeful, yet reminiscent.

“Having 50-55 minutes for lunch was awesome,” Brown said. “That gave us a lot of time to meet and tutor with students, and it gave students a lot of time with their extracurricular activities.”

Along with lunch, this school year has looked drastically different than in previous years. With plenty of students waking up to “go to school” on their computers and phones rather than receive in-person instruction, the assessment of virtual learning is of significance for the 2021-2022 school year and to the education system as a whole.

“I think it might change how we view education,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be more about quality and I think we’re going to start to value human interaction a bit more as a whole.” 

Due to the uncertainty of how the virus may affect Martin students this coming fall, the option for online learning seems to be available next school year. Though there may still be a choice, it is believed that many students will want to return to campus.

“I think that some students have flourished and done really well with online, especially if they’re not involved in a lot of extracurriculars, they may actually prefer it; but I think a lot of students really miss the social part of getting together with their friends, seeing kids in class, and having a fellowship of being with their teachers,” principal Marlene Roddy said.

With vaccinations becoming available to more groups of people, the possibility of returning to a more “normal” Martin environment is looking promising to Roddy.

“Being an optimist at heart, I would like to think that by sometime next fall we’d be able to function in the way we used to with students coming back to school and interacting with their teachers, performing on the stage, and partaking in athletics,” Roddy said.

Although the prospect of returning back to school seems positive, things most likely will still be different due to social distancing and Covid precautions that need to be followed for the safety of our fellow students and staff. While we’ve all learned to adapt and adjust this school year, the “old” Martin, so to speak, is very missed.

“I hope that Covid cases go down and that we don’t have to go back to school with masks and social distancing anymore,” junior Aliyah Austin said. “I want it to be normal again.”

The inability to be in a full classroom, a full school, has affected the student body greatly. The need to not get one’s hopes up for the fall is expressed.

“It’ll most likely be the same as this year,” Austin said. “Some kids are probably gonna stay home but maybe more will go this coming school year.”

Many of the same hopes and predictions have been expressed throughout this whole situation. The recycled sentence, “I just want things to go back to normal” has been on so many people’s minds and hearts as they’ve experienced the many highs and lows of the pandemic. Living in uncertainty and learning how to navigate the many unknowns has been challenging for society as a whole. Change seems to be on the horizon though, and while dealing with the unknown can be worrisome, the unknown simply leaves room for possibility and opportunity. 

“I hope that we do get more back to normal next fall,” Roddy said. “We’ll just keep our fingers crossed.”