Reminiscing as the seniors go back into the building for the SAT By Jenna Jarjoura

On Sept. 23, seniors filled the rooms of CHS to take the not-so-exciting SAT. Students were originally scheduled to take the SAT on April 28, 2020, before leaving school for summer break. Unfortunately, the exam was canceled when school closed on March 13, 2020 due to COVID-19.

To make up for the cancellation, CHS offered the free SAT to seniors for college purposes.

Early in the morning, teachers and students gathered around the back lawn, masked and socially distanced. Things seemed normal with a twist. Emotions were brought to the surface as seniors reflected on their times at CHS with hopes for more opportunities to go back into the building for various events.

The following is a small group of seniors that took the SAT that day and two teachers that proctored the exam reflecting on how they felt.

Anabelle Jones

It was really weird to walk into Community and go into a classroom. Everyone was wearing masks and that was just uncomfortable. I feel like if we had normal school right now we would probably have 10 people in a classroom where everyone would have to wear masks, which is unsettling.

I don't know how to explain what I was feeling the morning of the SAT. ‘I shouldn’t be here’ was all I was thinking and it was so unnatural to be back in the building. I kept looking in the classrooms and wishing I was there again, especially because it's our senior year. But I honestly didn't feel the pressure. The day before, I felt a little anxious, but not the day of. The fact that there wasn’t a lot of people in the room made the whole testing experience feel less intense.

I hadn’t been in the building for so long that when there was a break, I left the room and when I came looking for the room, I thought I was at the other side of the hallway just because I hadn’t been there in so long. It was weird that I forgot what the room looked like and even the set-up of the school.

Grace Thomas

It was exciting and weird to be back. It just felt like walking into the school on a normal day, except, then you get in there and there's a table of counselors and they're like ‘okay you're in this room’ and you remember you’re about to take the SAT. But I think it was definitely weird, because I haven't been in the school in a very long time and it's all been virtual so I think it was a weird being in that big of a building with a lot of people. But mostly it was just nice and it reminded me of going into school, and I got to see some people I haven't seen in a while.

When we were in the building I was thinking about the last day of school before COVID, and how we were all like ‘yeah, we're gonna be off for three weeks. I'll see you in three weeks!’ and now, we’ve been off for six months. Remembering that day makes me thing think about how it's senior year and ask myself, will I get a chance to go back in person or not?

Lulu Bogun

I was anxious. Partly because it's a pandemic and I didn't want to be around that many people, but I did not have a choice because my mother signed me up, but also because I personally struggle with social anxiety. Not seeing all of those people for six months and then seeing them was terrifying.

The smell of the building specifically was something I walked up the stairs and I was like, ‘wow, I miss going to school and driving to school.’ Specifically, I really miss driving that route every day and blasting rap music. When I got to the school I went into Craft Theater and I really missed that.

The actual SAT itself did not stress me out because none of the schools I'm applying to are requiring it. I'm not planning, unless I get some miraculously wonderful score, to send my scores in. But, I was so distracted the entire time because I'm just not used to being around all those people anymore. So now I'm like, ‘Are they watching me? What am I doing? What if I'm doing something? What if I look ugly?’

Eli Hausman

Being in that school environment where you're in that place and you're always focusing while you're there, was overwhelming to say the least. That's really what I was thinking about the whole time, because your whole body changes when you lock in and you have to do schoolwork.

Because it was my first time back at Community, it was a little bit overwhelming. It caught me off guard. Seeing that we were actually going to be allowed to go into the school, that day could’ve easily gone sideways and a week after, if we found out that someone there had COVID, it could’ve changed things completely and made AAPS rethink the possibility of opening up this year.

I felt like it was a lot less pressure taking the SAT because of how the colleges have kind of adapted to the situation that we're in right now. I think what really made it significantly less stressful was my room advisor. She was super helpful with us getting our snacks and taking our breaks.

Nikolai Tang

I don't really like standardized testing because it stresses me out, but it went better than I thought it was going to. It was definitely a plus just being a Community, but once I got into the testing room I just wasn't as stressed as I thought I'd be. I don't think the fact that we were at Community necessarily affected how I took my test, but it definitely made me feel better just to get back into the building.

It was awesome to be back at Community. But it also made me pretty sad that we're not going to be able to, or it's looking like we're not going to, go back this year. But it was great to be back in the building.

When I got into the room with everyone, it seemed pretty relaxed which I think helped me kind of relax as well. And with respect to COVID, I think people took many precautions and I didn't really worry at all. I didn't think there was a need to worry so it didn't affect my testing.

Ryan Silvester

It was earlier than I normally get up nowadays, and I couldn't sleep the night before because of how excited I was. And again, the thing I always say about proctoring the SAT is that proctoring the SAT is worse than taking the SAT because you just have to sit there, and you can't do anything, you can't read anything, you can't plan anything — you sit there. So, I'd rather be taking the test. But even with that, the night before and throughout the night and in the morning, I was just so excited to be able to go into school, to have it populated again with students. It was really exciting for me just to have that opportunity. It just felt surreal; the whole thing felt surreal.

The weirdest thing was that it was the SAT. Something that's supposed to be this awful, terrible test that everyone has to take, but it just didn't really matter what it was — we were back together. One of the best parts was the excitement to not have my jokes fall flat on empty zoom boxes. It was nice to get some actual laughter. It was really cool. And even with only 10 people in the room, it felt like a full class and it felt normal.

My first year teaching I didn't have a first or second block. But, I would get to the school at 7:30 anyways, or super early –– 7:10 early for normal time. Then I would just sit there for four hours and do work, but whenever I didn't have any work to do, I would walk the second floor hall around the main lobby and look at all the pictures of all the old school pictures in the halls. Those kind of moments of nostalgic feelings came back really, really hard when I walked through the building and there wasn't really anyone there yet. It was early enough so that I felt very similar. I Thought back to my first year and how nervous and how excited I was.

Becky Brent

As soon as I walked into the building, I noticed that it smelled so good. I mean it smelled like what school normally smells like, which is just this weird concoction of smells, but it wasn't as weird as usual. That smell was the same as before and as soon as I walked in, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, we're here! We're actually in the building.’

That was the first time that I had stepped into the building since senior graduation and even for senior graduation, we weren't allowed to go into the building. All of the art and Depression Awareness Group messages are still hanging on the walls, all those posters that nobody's even seeing right now.

I stopped and looked at the art in front of Dean Marci's office and just stood there for around five minutes thinking ‘oh my gosh art student artwork, I never see it anymore.’

Karen was in the office, Marci was in her office, Rebecca was in the library with Kevin, and I made it a point to step into each one of those places just to say hi to everyone. It just felt so good to see people in person. I knew the SAT was business and it had to be business and we had to be focused, but there was this big part of me that just wanted to hug everyone, and say ‘oh my gosh you're here, you're actually in front of my face.’

To the Students:

A message from Ryan:

We love you guys so much, and this is so hard on all of us. I want to be there with you fighting through all this, listening in on your small groups and advocating for you all and picking you up when things are going well, and then lifting you when things aren't. And we can do that virtually, but it's just it's not quite the same, so hang in there. things are gonna get better with time. We'll be back in the classroom before we know it, having fun and doing what we always do. It's just going to take a little bit to get there. So stay strong. That's my big takeaway: stay strong. I love you guys.

A message from Becky:

It all looks the same. It looks just the same as we left it. Even our multiculti decorations are still up and everywhere. Everything is untouched. And now the hardest part for me is to go back to this online world that we're in when I am craving the classroom. I don't know how this is gonna all unfold so it's the unknown that’s just hard to contend with sometimes, especially when you're thinking about going back to the building.

This sounds so cliche, but hang in there.