The 14 Year Experience

An Important Message From The Nurse’s Office


Let me set the stage:


It was the year of our lord, 2020. Rainbows and fireworks filled the sky as the Times Square Ball marked the turn of the decade. Everyone was ready for a fresh start. A new decade. Who wasn’t excited? The world jumped into the roaring 20s and then three months later, jumped into their beds after a Zoom meeting. 

Everyone remembers this, right? Good. So I won’t go into detail about the COVID cases or the whales in Manhattan or how the word “unprecedented” worked its way into everyone’s lexicon. Today, I will talk about the roller coaster called Parker’s COVID Fun. 

Let’s start at the beginning. It was sometime in March when all the teachers started handing us books to take home. They kept telling us, “No this isn’t because of COVID. We just wanna give these books for you to take home so you can get a head start!” Maybe 48 hours later, an email was sent out to everyone stating that school would be going on a two week recess. 

Students were given a week off until online school started the following week. There aren’t many things that I can describe as a fever dream, but the end of that school year was a four month long fever dream. That first day of online school, the portal decided to crash. I remember waking up to go to “school” and then opening up my email to see that the portal was down. This became a recurring nightmare throughout the rest of the online school days. The portal being down, Zoom crashing, and of course everyone’s favorite excuse: WiFi problems. 

By the end of the 2020 academic year, Parker decided to just let go. Finals didn’t count, absences didn’t count; everyone had both of their feet out the door. This wasn’t a big deal for me as I, too, was done with school by April. However, in my opinion, it was quite sad to just watch Parker give up. I understand that it was an unprecedented time, but I believe that they could’ve done something more than just send a couple of inspirational emails. Especially for the seniors. They got screwed out of a senior year. The class of 2020 left Parker with a piece of paper and a couple of cookies.
The 2021 academic year was…interesting. I like to refer to it as the year of impiety. We aren’t a religious school, but there was no God at Parker during the year (or any of the thirty pods across the city). I knew that my sophomore year was going to be ghastly when I joined my first Zoom class and I saw my teacher’s forehead pressed against the computer’s camera asking us what ethernet is. Supposedly over the summer Parker taught teachers and administrators how to use Zoom and Google. However, the “professional” must’ve been 110 years old because my teachers still didn’t understand how to screen share until December. 

While the teachers struggled with technology, the students strived. Now, I’m not going to explicitly say anything about how students took advantage of technology, but I think that everyone understands what I am alluding to. The internet is full of wondrous resources, and students realized that quite early on in the year. Now that grades mattered, students wanted to find a safety net. They found one. No amount of contracts nor academic honesty forms could stop the onslaught that followed. Academic integrity was at an all time low and grades at an all time high.

The second half of the year was somehow even stranger. Parker tried to have a “slow” progression back to normality. But the hybrid schedule was terrible. The half days were some of the most disorganized days of my 14 years at Parker. I’m not going to say a lot on this subject because it was so bad. Those who were there know what I am talking about. 

Once the hybrid schedule ended, students were welcomed back into the school. And for a while, it was ‘normal.’ I don’t remember much about that time because one, it was only one and a half months, and two, it was just another fever dream. I do remember the poor kids who were on Zoom during that period. In each class there were around two kids who had to somehow be present in class while staring at the teacher’s legs. Anyways, onto the year 2021/22. The year of anxiety. After not being in ‘real’ school for one and a half years, Parker decided to thrust us into the old system and say “good luck!” Now, I may be biased because I had to go through ACT prep and physics class with a mask and fifteen thousand emails saying that I’ve been named a close contact. But I bet most people felt like it was a kick in the stomach. Each night I would go home and have a tiny panic attack about literally anything. It ranged from forgetting homework to realizing that I had drunk from the same bottle of a COVID-positive kid. To be honest, by the end of the year, COVID was the least of my worries. Unlike the previous years, the students had given up by the end of the year. Come April, everyone was more preoccupied with prom or the closure of 7Eleven than the insanely confusing quarantine system. 

Even though the year 2021-22 was a kick in the stomach, it needed to happen. Now, we are back to almost 100% normalcy. Looking back at it, I am happy that the 2021/22 year happened because the Parker community is now back on track to the pre-COVID days. I haven’t gotten one email about being a close contact!

Well, I guess this is nearing the end of my rant/history lesson about Parker’s COVID years. If you didn’t read all that, here is a short summary: it was terrible. I’m just glad we are back to normal (watch that we now go back into quarantine because I said that). Looking forward to the next issue, I will be talking about our lovely curriculum. See you then! 

With zero COVID in my body, 

Ben Rachel