On March 13th, my mother would have been 87. Sadly, she passed away thirty years ago, and I often wonder how she would have navigated the past year. Married to a physician, she would have trusted the health professionals, but the stay-at-home orders would have tested her resolve—she had been ignoring advice to live in a warmer climate from her own doctor for decades. The various technologies that have helped curb the isolation would have been a big hurdle for her. While she started using her first computer in 1990, she initially treated it as a glorified and slightly more cumbersome typewriter. In fact, she was unconvinced that she could ‘save’ her work, so she typed and retyped our wedding invitation list over and over again.
Last year on March 11, Poly sent a letter to our families informing them that we would transition to distance learning right away. At that point, we had no idea that it would be over a year before we could bring all of our students back to campus for classes. As students have slowly returned, our youngest in November and other grades a little bit later, the campus has perked up quite a bit. Upper School conditioning and skill-building morphed into team practices, and we hosted the year’s first athletic competitions on campus earlier this month. ‘Specialized services’ allowed older students to return for short stints, bittersweet reminders of what they missed dearly—each other and their teachers. And now we see the real light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines becoming more available and the case rate dropping dramatically from the alarming numbers of early January.
With some luck, we will hold academic classes on our Upper School campus this week, and our seventh- and eighth-graders will enjoy their scholarly pursuits here again, too. To be sure, the roller coaster of guidance and emotions will continue while we yearn for information that is more emphatic and timelines more certain. On the inside of one of her kitchen cabinets, my mother taped quotations that she cherished. From Hallmark-card-worthy quotes about hugging (ironically, my mother was decidedly not a hugger) to the Bible and JFK, they captured the essence of a person who was perennially optimistic about humanity and realistic about the seasons ‘for every purpose.’ I have always found my mother’s outlook on life compelling and particularly apt for the months ahead.
Individual acts of generosity and grace and collective resolve will spur our efforts to return, together as one Poly—emerging stronger and more clear-eyed about what it means to be part of this community and the challenges ahead. The seasons have come and gone, but who we are and what we stand for has not. Enjoy your break.