2021 ends on a note of normalcy


Juliana Coates

Biology teacher Matt Davis passes out papers. Davis is grateful that the school year has been more normal than last year.

Despite the lingering pandemic that has cast a shadow over the 2021-2022 school year, this first semester is coming to a close more or less normally.

Yes, there haven’t been many pep rallies or assemblies; yes, people have had to quarantine; and yes, people are still wearing masks, but on the flip side, no, there wasn’t any plexiglass; no, students weren’t on a hybrid schedule; and no, students haven’t canceled every pep rally, assembly, or meeting.

According to Principal Andrew McMillan, this semester has been a success despite COVID-19.

“I think with all things considered, our semester has gone really well,” McMillan said. “When August came, there was a lot of excitement, and then the COVID numbers just exploded, and then we kind of predicted that by November and December, we would be in a really good spot.”

Biology teacher Matthew Davis shared similar feelings.

Davis said that this year has brought back a feeling of normalcy and has allowed him to develop better relationships with his students.

“I think we’ve gotten back to normalcy, and I’m very pleased,” Davis said. “I think I’ve gotten to know my students better. The interpersonal relationships that I’ve made this semester have been far greater than any I’ve made these past three or four semesters. I’m excited with where we’re going. Hopefully we just keep getting better and better and better.”

Of course, this first semester has come with its own unique challenges. Besides the obvious difficulty of going to school in a pandemic world, McMillan says the biggest obstacle to overcome is the “lingering cloud” of worry that has filled the air for so long.

“I think people are worried about what’s going to happen next,” McMillan said. “I think people are worried about things that go on in our country. I think people just worry more because COVID kinda came out of nowhere, and people just see what something like that can do to everybody.”

While there have been challenges, this first semester has brought happy moments as well.

All students were on campus to participate in Homecoming week and the Veteran’s Day assembly; chorus was able to perform their annual Broadway and Beyond concert; theatre was able to perform their fall production of “Steel Magnolias;” sports teams were able to play in front of full stadiums; and six sports teams were able to clinch region titles.

Additionally, teachers have had more class days to work with their students and build relationships with their classes.

Junior Abby Gossett says that those relationships and the conversations that follow have been the best part of this year so far.

“My favorite part of this semester has been the interesting talks we have in AP Biology,” Gossett said. “We are always laughing, but I have learned a lot in that class because we make it fun.”

Davis says that the complete absence of plexiglass has been a pleasant surprise thus far. While the plexiglass was taken down at the end of the school year, there were still concerns that it might be needed again; thankfully, this semester has been completely plexiglass-free.

“I just did not like the plexiglass,” Davis said. “It felt like you were over there and I was over here, and we felt disconnected, and the whole point of teaching is to be connected to somebody else, and I didn’t feel connected.”

On a larger scale, McMillan says that Chapman has seen tremendous support from the community as they have navigated this semester.

This support has always been present, but it’s evident now more than ever.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just the amount of people that are now saying more positive encouragement,” McMillan said. “I think people really saw what our educators do, what our staff does, and they were like ‘Man, y’all really are awesome.’ You have more community members who are saying, ‘Man, you guys are doing a great job, and I appreciate what y’all do.’”

As the first semester comes to a close, McMillan’s message to the student body is to stay the course and finish well.

“We don’t have very many school days left, so take advantage of each opportunity,” McMillan said. “Don’t screw around right now and mess your grades up. Stay committed to putting forth your best effort every day.”