Mountaineers return to full day, in-person learning

On Monday April 26, the Regional welcomed back students for the first full week of school in the building this year as the district completed its transition from a hybrid learning model to a full in-person system. 

My first day back was really good,” said junior Amelia LeBlanc. “Being able to see people again and be back in the building was so nice. Even though there are restrictions on things, it still feels semi-normal.” 

Math teacher Kaitlyn Foucher agreed.

I’ve really enjoyed the first few days back with full in-person learning,” said Foucher. “The biggest positive has definitely been being able to interact with so many of my students face-to-face after only seeing them on a computer for so long.”

Some students said that they felt nervous about entering the Regional for the first time.

“The transition back in the building was not as hard as I had envisioned it to be,” said freshman Merolla Dakkash. “I definitely got nervous and felt lost sometimes. But with seniors and teachers being always there to help, going around the school was simple and exciting.”

Freshman Brooke Laidlaw agreed.

“At first I was really scared but when I entered the school it wasn’t bad whatsoever because everyone welcomed you. There is really nothing to be scared about because everyone is going through the same thing as you,” said Laidlaw.

Full in-person learning also brought about a return to the traditional pre-pandemic block schedule.

“The new-old schedule gave a sense of normalcy to the school day, and even a feeling of nostalgia since it has been over a year since our last long block,” said junior Jenna Schwarz.

What’s for lunch? Could it be a basketball to the face? That’s a question for the seniors and juniors who eat in the upper gym. (Evangeline Welch)

Despite a largely positive response to the implementation of the new model, there have been some bumps in the road, particularly with lunches.

“Lunches have been super awkward and nothing like they used to be. I’m just thankful that we can use our phones,” said senior Mary Scott.

Leblanc agreed.

“Lunch seems very odd. As a junior, I have to eat in the gym. It’s not very good with most of the seats being regular chairs. It makes eating lunch difficult,” said Leblanc.

There have also been problems with the management of the school parking lot, despite efforts in the beginning to ease this problem with staggered dismissal times.

I’m a student who parks in the upper lot of student parking and it takes me probably 45 minutes to get home because of traffic whereas to get to school takes about 15 max,” said junior Kari Githmark. “It’s definitely very complicated especially when buses are arriving late and trying to sneak by cars when there isn’t enough room to do so.”

Junior Ella Grady agreed.

I appreciate the admin giving us juniors the ability to park this year since on campus parking is only available to seniors in a normal year, but the staggering of dismissal does not solve the problem of getting out on time,” said Grady. “There are days where I have sat in my parking spot for 25 minutes with my siblings waiting for the cars to move.”

Returning full days in person has also enhanced many classes.

Students returning to in-person learning vs staying remote (Shaian Aghasoltan)

“Having more students back in person has been wonderful for our ensembles,” said music teacher Megan Will. “With more students in rehearsal, class is starting to feel a little more ‘normal.’ The music department has worked hard to create appropriate spacing in the auditorium to have effective and safe rehearsals during our class time.”

Although the majority of students came into the building for school, around 25% of students continued to attend from home.

My first day back felt pretty normal from the rest of the year because I chose to remain remote,” said Schwarz. “I was unaware of how many people were actually going into the building, so when my Google Meets had 10 people on them rather than the normal 25, I felt a bit alone.”

Socially, many students expressed excitement to see friends and acquaintances again, as well as to make new ones.

“I feel pretty good about going back to school full time. I think it is worth going back because it has been easier meeting new people and making new friends,” said freshman Paige Williams.

Scott agreed.

“It is great to be back in school full time and seeing all of my friends again,” said Scott.