Op-Ed: One Year Away

Letter from Superintendent John Oteri about the closing of schools.

One year, 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes. A year is a long time, no matter how you measure it. In one year, the average person will grow about six inches of hair, walk about 1,500 miles, and spend a little more than $60,000. A year can completely change you as a person, and flip the world on its head.

March 12th, 2020. Exactly one year ago, life as we knew it ended, though we would have never guessed it. 

It was a day like any other. I woke up at 6:00 am to get ready for another plain old day of school. I went to my classes, ate my lunch, did my work, and went through the day without any idea of what was to come. 

That day after school, I sat in the Blue and Gold classroom, J387, and helped my sophomore year editors finish the March print edition before it was due to be sent out. Almost every day that week, I had stayed at the school until 5 or 6 o’clock at night working on my assigned pages, photoshopping and placing elements, and writing captions until I couldn’t move my wrist.

Letter from Superintendent John Oteri about the closing of schools.

I remember on that Thursday, it was around 4 o’clock, and we received news that Everett and Revere had both closed their schools for a few weeks due to the outbreak of the highly joked-about Corona Virus. There was a moment when everyone in the room shared the same thought, “will this be the last day we see each other this year?” We thought it was ridiculous, but we were right. Later on that night we received a notice from the school that all Malden Public Schools would be closed indefinitely. I left the school at 5:30 that afternoon and have only returned a handful of times since to collect my belongings and pick up books for my AP Literature class. 

I have not seen my teachers, my peers, nor anything else from Malden High in an entire year. We picked everything up and threw it onto the computer, but it’s not the same, how could it be? We have gone from loud clusters of desks to silent breakout rooms and lively classes where students bond over the seemingly endless list of books they have to read to 25 or more icons and only the teacher’s face on a bright screen. 

Online school will never compare to the feeling of being in a classroom environment, surrounded by people who are completely different from you asking the same questions and worrying about the same due dates. We have done as well as we can with it, but I and many others long for the return to our normal lives. Although, normal may not be the word to describe the lives we hope to come back to. Any sense of normalcy has been completely shifted, and even if we went back to the same routine as before COVID knocked us on the ground, nothing will feel the same. 

As we inch closer to the proposed date of return to in-person learning, I’ve found it to be important to reflect on the past year. It has been one of tragedy, growth, strength and fear. I look back at the person I was a year ago and I barely recognize her. That thought can be scary to consider, but with all that went wrong in the last year, I am proud of where I am and who I've become. I am proud of those around me and all we have accomplished and persevered through. I look to the future with hope and excitement for the day I can walk back into my classrooms and see the friends I've missed so dearly. I find myself daydreaming about waiting in line in the cafeteria or walking through the halls during pool season and being hit with the smell of chlorine. Mundane tasks like talking by the lockers or walking to get food at New York Pizza after school ends seem so much bigger than before. Every little moment feels like an opportunity, a memory to cherish and possibilities to not take for granted.

After one whole year away, I've found a new appreciation for myself, my friends, and most importantly, my school. Watching how hard the staff has worked to adjust us to our new reality through every single change and issue thrown at us has been inspiring. There's a sense of gratitude I have for our teachers and principals that words cannot begin to convey. I'm unsure of how we could begin to thank them for their hard work and commitment to our education, but I do know that they would move mountains for us and would take on any challenge presented to them. So thank you to every single person in the Malden High community, for keeping us safe and working so hard for us. I cannot wait to be back in the familiar halls of our school, back to where we belong. 

2 thoughts on “Op-Ed: One Year Away

  1. Lauren, your article and write up about the pandemic was very well written. I don’t know if life will ever be the same for anyone. It has been a year of sadness and tragerdy. Best wishes as Managing Editor of Print and Design.

  2. Dear Lauren,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful heartfelt reflection. You are all warriors. You, as students, have survived a historical time in this world. Keep on keeping on. Never forget you are world changers. You are loved. Forever.

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