Let seniors lead the way to reopening GMHS

Evan Lankford, Contributor

As discussion about the reopening plans continue, some students and community members have called for seniors to be phased into the hybrid model a few weeks earlier than is currently planned. Senior Evan Lankford, SCA Class of 2021 Treasurer, shares his view. 

Senior Evan Lankford in front of new high school
Senior Evan Lankford in front of new high school. A petition calling for the senior class to be phased into a hybrid schedule earlier than currently planned has garnered over 100 signatures so far. (Photo by Charlie Adams)

As I try to focus on my online learning, my thoughts keep drifting. I recall the memories with friends cheering in the stands at a Friday night football game under the lights. Like most students during this time of lockdown, I’ve developed an even greater appreciation for time together with friends and teachers at school.

I’m a member of the class of 2021. We’ve missed out on so much already: junior prom, spring sports, our last “first day,” sitting in the old GMHS alcoves, and so much more. And now we’re learning that the FCCPS administration and GMHS leadership plan to delay the opening of the high school by an additional two weeks–moving it from January 4 to January 21 for all grades. I strongly disagree.

Let the seniors lead the way into the new GMHS. With 12 weeks until January 4, we can be part of the effort to help plan and prepare for a safe and responsible return.

The building is scheduled to be ready for use by that time and with no major setbacks, what’s stopping us from returning on time? Having a smaller student population in the building at first could also provide helpful feedback for teachers on their lesson plans in a hybrid model. Although there are a variety of factors influencing the decision about the reopening date such as logistical concerns about only bringing back one grade, today is October 14, and a January 4 re-entry gives students, teachers, and administrators almost three months to work out the details. 

Right now, we are in a safe locality with low COVID rates, and although we should remain vigilant and cautious, other threats to students like the potential learning loss and mental health issues stemming from this extended stretch of remote classes must also be considered.  

In less than twelve hours, over 100 students signed their names to a Senior Class SCA petition on this matter, calling for seniors to be brought into the hybrid model early. I encourage all GMHS students to do the same. Two weeks in January may not make up for the eight months online, but at least it is time to be with each other before the Mustangs of 2021 say goodbye to Mason, and lead the way into a safe, responsible return for all of GMHS.