Community/Seniors in the Time of Pandemic

By Jennings Stuart

I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

Rereading the email entitled “COVID-19 Update” back in March, I was unable to contain my excitement over our extended Spring Break, not stopping to think about what this would mean for the rest of my junior year.

That extended Spring Break was not as glamorous as I had anticipated; sometimes it feels as though it still hasn’t ended. Spring Break blended into quarantine, which blended into remote learning, ultimately blending into summer. The monotony of staying locked up in my house made the clock tick slower.

I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

As “senior leadership,” I was kept busy over the summer, logging on and off Zoom calls with administration, collecting senior ideas, participating in an online anatomy class, and acting as the bridge between my peers and the Saint Mary’s Hall community. Although this work I did was in preparation for my senior year, my involvement over the summer mixed with ignorance led me to believe that COVID-19 would never touch our senior year. It wasn’t until I discussed the alternatives for a Blue Tie Parade with administrators that our new reality began to seep into the deepest cracks of my foundation that was no longer protected against an inevitable pandemic.

I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

Blue Tie Parade was one for the history books. While driving around the Upper School Circle lacked screaming kids, I was happy to be receiving my blue tie. While the first few days of senior year were online, I was overwhelmed with the amount of preparation going on behind the scenes. Everyone, from administrators to students, utilized their talents for the same purpose: to uphold the triumph of Baron Pride in the face of a new obstacle.

I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

I was angry. I still am angry. Angry at someone or something for allowing me to pour my heart and soul into this school from day one to watch my senior year crumble before my eyes. I immediately reverted to what I do best, attempting to pick up the pieces of rubble all on my own and patch together our senior year, repeating phrases like “I waited thirteen years” or “why our Form?” We are taught to take delight in the simple things at Saint Mary’s Hall, but the simple things we were looking forward to were suddenly a figment of our imaginations.

I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

Although the simple things we were looking forward to taking delight in were gone, that motto which we believed to be mocking us opened our eyes to all the simple things our community has given us despite the debris of our senior year. Our community gave us faith and support when we had none and still do this day. Teachers reach out and check on us daily, parents provide opportunities to bond, and our administration has opened its ears to our concerns.

And I, Jennings Stuart, would never lie to you.

Despite the rubble of our senior year, the wreckage for which we mourn, hope still blooms in the Saint Mary’s Hall community. We are rebuilding our new senior year and watching as flowers begin to break through the cracks in the world around us.  

Jennings Stuart

Jennings Stuart is currently in Form 12 and is a “Lifer” having attended Saint Mary’s Hall since Kindergarten in 2008. Along with being the student body president, Jennings is involved in Student Council, Project Teach, UNICEF, She’s the First, and Shield Society (serving as president). Some of her interests include photography, creative writing, graphic design, psychology, history, and learning in general. She is the first in her family to attend SMH.

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