“Happy” Anniversary, Covid-19


Photo by Naomi Skiles

Up To Date: March 11, 2021

A year has passed since students and staff left the walls of South, unsure of when they would return. Former seniors missed out on a normal graduation, current seniors have gone without senior traditions and freshmen have yet to experience a normal day in high school. Despite these challenges, members of the South community, including Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel, have been resilient and hopeful.

Covid-19 has impacted students’ daily lives across the nation. Like many students at South, transitioning to e-learning was challenging for senior Ashley Kay. Now that in-person learning is offered every day, Kay looks forward to new senior activities planned for this unusual school year.

“At the beginning of Covid-19 when the virtual learning first started, it was kind of chaotic and it wasn’t very easy to navigate, but now I’d much rather be in-person and I go in usually,” Kay said. “Hopefully we are still able to have some of the typical [senior events] like prom and graduation even if it’s modified.”

‌Freshmen‌ have ‌also‌ ‌struggled‌ ‌with‌ ‌not only having to adjust to a new school, but also to a new learning system. Freshman‌ ‌Ellen‌ ‌Hurley‌ ‌explained ‌that‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌constant‌ ‌changes‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌year,‌ ‌she‌ ‌would‌ ‌often‌ ‌get‌ ‌overwhelmed. However, Hurley learned ‌to prepare ‌herself ‌for ‌more ‌shifts in the future and has grown from the pandemic as well.

“It’s kind of a cheesy saying but, ‘Expect the unexpected,’” Hurley said. “Obviously no one expected Covid-19 was going to happen. Everything changed, so I learned that I have to be ready for change at any given time.”

The school continues to adjust to the ever-changing nature of Covid-19 that families have grown accustomed to. As Hurley herself has been adapting to changes, she gives a piece of advice that the community can take into the unforeseeable future.

“You‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌live‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌moment‌ ‌and‌ ‌try‌ ‌to‌ ‌not‌ ‌worry‌ ‌about‌ ‌what’s‌ ‌happening,‌ ‌but‌ ‌still‌ ‌be‌ ‌ready‌ ‌for‌ ‌change,”‌ ‌Hurley‌ ‌said.‌

Current students at South were not the only ones affected by Covid-19. South alum, Yasmeen Rafee, who graduated with the class of 2020, was also heavily impacted by the pandemic.

“My initial reaction was shock, disappointment and a level of grief,” Rafee said. “I was heavily involved at South, both academically and with extracurriculars, so not having the opportunity to go back inside and say ‘Bye’ to the facilities was heartbreaking. I found a home in Glenbrook South, so being deprived of the ability to say farewell to that home did incite a level of grief.”

At the start of the pandemic, Fagel, along with many other members of the staff, brainstormed the best ways to continue to provide students a beneficial education while staying safe at home.

“It was very traumatic,” Fagel said. “I would say having the teachers literally shift their entire practice overnight was the greatest challenge. I feel like we’re more settled in and we have time to plan for how we’re going to do things and make decisions.”

Teachers‌ ‌at‌ ‌South‌ ‌also‌ ‌had‌ ‌their‌ ‌fair‌ ‌share‌ ‌of‌ ‌adapting‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌new‌ ‌way‌ ‌of‌ ‌learning.‌ Since ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌progressed‌ ‌to‌ ‌partial‌ ‌in-person‌ ‌learning,‌ ‌teachers‌ ‌struggle‌ ‌to‌ ‌balance in-person and e-learning instruction.‌ ‌‌David‌ ‌Berkson‌, social studies teacher, ‌has‌ ‌set‌ ‌a‌ ‌new‌ standard ‌for‌ ‌communication‌ ‌in‌ ‌his‌ virtual ‌teaching‌ ‌environment.‌ ‌

“I would say the challenge that comes to my mind first is creating a classroom community where some people can see each other and talk to one another,” Berkson said. “Once‌ ‌I‌ ‌accepted‌ ‌the‌ ‌idea‌ ‌of‌ ‌patience‌ ‌and‌ ‌clear‌ ‌expectations,‌ ‌the‌ ‌experience‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌good‌ ‌for‌ ‌what‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌be.”

In order to get through this pandemic, Fagel explained she had to be more flexible, as well as take the realism of the pandemic into account.

“I would say one of the mantras that I’ve used with our staff this year when we [reopened] the school was the phrase ‘open, flexible and positive,’” Fagel said. “I’ve continually gone back to that phrase and challenged all of us, myself included, to try to be open in the ways of doing things flexibly. Same thing with our students, they had to be very flexible and then try to be as positive as possible, but I’m also very realistic and it’s not possible to [have that outlook] every day.”

*Kristofer Blumberg, Ivette Dimitrova, Ami Enkhbayar, Hayden Hunter, Niki Lipscomb, Jacob Lopez, Alexander Matraszek, Eliana Pritikin, Yasna Qureshi, Maya Scahill and Gabrielle Yap