March 16, 2021 by Ally Donnelly, The Hingham Cast (photos courtesy of Hingham Public Schools)
I bought a back to school outfit. I lovingly (not begrudgingly) packed a labor-intensive lunch. I wrote a special note and tucked it into a lunchbox that had been cleaned for the first time in Lord knows when. It was the first day of school. And I was ready. So ready.
It’s been a year and a handful of days since our kids were all together in their elementary schools. And, it’s been tough. Too much technology, not enough contact. Friendships untended, connections lost. Tears, anger, frustration. Their teachers and school staff have tried so hard and I am deeply grateful. I see you and value you. But you know, like I do, it’s not the same.
I had families send me comments from their kids about what they were feeling about going back to school. Emma couldn’t wait to see her friends. Ainsley called her teacher “amazing” and couldn’t wait to see her class. Maggie, Madeline, Ben, Liam all shared similar sentiments. Ellie squealed, squealed with the thought of joyful reunion.
Lucy, my third grader wanted all those same things. When she came bounding up the porch steps after school, I asked her how it went. She was breathless. "Awesome," she said. I wish I could have just let that be. But I put my framing of what this pandemic has been on her. I asked about the gym that before Covid had been the crowded host to all-school meetings, concerts, plays and special visitors. Wasn't it weird, I asked, to have it converted to a lunchroom? Wasn't it lonely to sit at your own little desk and eat without all the social silliness of her typical elementary school lunchtime? She was quick to answer. "I would give up all school meetings and guest speakers and concerts,” she said. “Just to have my class back together after what we've gone through.”
Her principal, Tony Keady, gets it. "A school is a building," he said. "It doesn’t become a school until you fill it with kids. And so today really, it’s that same feeling of now it’s back to where it should be."
On this week’s episode of The Hingham Cast, listen in to hear our conversation as we talk about the work ahead, like social-emotional learning while balancing the push pull of social distancing.
“It is definitely stressful because it’s not normal. Elementary school it’s usually just a happy place to be and you’ve got kids who like to be together and close together,” Keady said. “We’ll get them back on track. What kids can really walk away with now, I think, is hopefully a sense of what it means to be resilient. You can’t teach resilience, and you can’t fake it. Resilience only really comes when you are truly challenged and have to draw from within.” Deep breath. Here we go.
You can hear the full episode by subscribing to The Hingham Cast via the following link: https://hinghamanchor.com/the-hingham-cast/.