Behind the walls of a hybrid Jefferson

Tuesday the 2nd and Thursday the 4th marked the return of Jefferson freshmen and seniors to the school building. While many seniors saw this as a return to normalcy, freshmen such as myself saw it as the opening of four years of opportunity.

As we drove up to the school and as I walked into the building, parents and staff held signs welcoming seniors and freshmen to Jefferson.

Sean Nguyen

As we drove up to the school and as I walked into the building, parents and staff held signs welcoming seniors and freshmen to Jefferson.

Grayson Stotz, Staff Writer

148 days into my freshman year, I’ve entered the building for the first time. I don’t get a good look at the halls before I am ushered into the gym for orientation. Spaced chairs, spaced students, and a space separating any and all casual conversations.

And yet I feel right at home. 

Orientation was an opportunity to get to know the school. Seeing our counselors, our SGA officers, our principal; all people who have lived behind the computer screen finally entering the 3rd dimension as they instruct us on what it means to be a Jefferson student. We’re almost three quarters into the school year, and yet it feels like my first day attending Jefferson.

Following orientation was our IBET meetings. What was once a gym of 80 freshman quickly dwindled to a group of 10 students following the guided arrows and school maps. I wouldn’t fully recognize the depth of the school until the scavenger hunt, where students were given the freedom to roam the halls for ourselves. It was then that the true colors of Jefferson came to fruition through the openness of the courtyard, the second floor library, and Noble commons. What must’ve been a space of livelihood and discussion now lay empty.

As students made their way to 1st period, the group of ten became a band of four entering the same classroom, unaware they had been in each other’s presence for the past seven months. Names of classmates fell into place with their respective faces, or what was visible of them, as we took our seats. Even with four students, the room seemed cramped, like the ten desks present could never allow the space for a class of 26.

What must’ve been a space of livelihood and discussion now lay empty.”

The teachers, having had the upper half of the alphabet to practice with, were still getting used to the hybrid setting. We ran through the average bout of technical difficulties, working out the kinks as they appeared. Input from the computer and the classroom contributed to what was likely the most participation we’d seen all year. 

Upon entering and exiting all classes, hand sanitizer is recommended to be applied. That’s two for each class, four classes a day, two for lunch, and an additional two for a second 8th period. Mix this with both the guided directional arrows around the school and signup forms for lunch and you have what it takes to open up hybrid learning. With all the precautions in place, it is apparent that Jefferson is taking every step it can to make the school a safe place to learn.

After my first two days in person, I feel I have a new appreciation for attending Jefferson. It’s one thing to be taking Jefferson classes, but it’s another to physically attend the school. With 99 days left in my freshman year, I look forward to the time I will spend within the Jefferson building, and the experiences that follow.