The world, and therefore Grace Church, is plagued by multiple pandemics. Between a national awakening to racism, the climate disaster, and Covid-19, citizens worldwide have had their lives changed drastically. How have these changes come to Grace Church?
Well, countless parts of school have changed. When asked about some of the biggest changes, the head of the high school, Hugo Mahabir, cited that, “In terms of teaching and learning, one of the huge changes is now being in hybrid school, and adjusting to the rhythm of two days on campus two days off-campus, as well as having some students who are all remote.” Of course, this is one of the most central changes to our lives as students in terms of both learning and socializing.
But there’s been many smaller changes that might not be noticeable right on the surface:
Instead of enjoying a casual stroll to Shake Shack or a meal with friends in the cafeteria, our lunch is delivered to our advisories in thermal satchels.
Instead of using backpacks, we’re required to carry flimsy drawstring or tote bags.
Instead of elbowing our way through crowded hallways, we now walk through empty school halls with the help of directional arrows taped to the floors. Okay, maybe this is kind of a benefit–the second floor has been a nightmare to walk through since the High School’s inception.
And finally, masks. That’s all there is to be said on the subject.
The safety protocols implemented by the school’s administration are vital to the general health and wellbeing of the community. These restrictions are here to ensure the continuation of our in-person learning experience.
Remember, these times are unprecedented. Amid Covid-19, economic turmoil, and climate disaster, one issue was brought to the forefront of the conversation this summer: an awakening to the racism and inequality that’s inherent within every institution nationwide. Grace Church, being a predominantly white institution, was no exception to this awakening–especially as the school likes to remind families on their website that they, “strive to be an anti-racist school.”
In a town hall this summer, the administration laid out exactly what they planned to do to change this aspect of the community. When asked to comment on these changes, Mahabir said the administration needed to, “have the courage and the honesty to examine all aspects of who we are and to really face the truth about it.”
After thanking the Instagram account @blackatgrace that was able to shed light on these inequalities over the summer, Mahabir went on to say that, “there’s a new all school committee called the institutional culture committee, the ICC as it’s known for short, and that’s really a body that’s looking at the comprehensive overview of the school–curriculum; hiring; faculty training; student relationships.”
He concluded, “It’s not just individual behaviors or actions here and there, but there’s a pervasiveness to it. And it tends to exist, kind of, under the surface. And it runs through some of the culture. And I think that perhaps was the hardest and most painful thing to face…and I think that’s what we’re called on to do, and that’s what we have to do. We have to address that. We have to make those changes.”
We as students may have a lot of complaints and a lot of foiled hopes and plans, however, now more than ever is a time to be positive. It is a time to care for and take part in a community whose leaders have worked tirelessly to facilitate the most comprehensive learning program that they can fathom amid these crises that exist nationwide. This year we are faced with unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, but we will face them together, united as one Grace community.
We’re looking forward to making the most of the new school year and we hope you are too.