Students Share Memories of Pre-Pandemic Time, Look Ahead to Return to School Building

Amidst the stress and overwhelming onslaught of bad news coming out of 2020, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on what’s changed since last year, and things we can improve going forward.

 I reached out to teachers, staff and students to ask about their fondest memories of the times before COVID, and their opinions on our current state of affairs.

 I also asked them their thoughts about how we can improve life at Dimond going forward, to ensure that we can smoothly transition back into normalcy. 

Over 2,020 years ago, the poet Ovid famously said, “The harvest is always richer in another man’s field”. 

To paraphrase, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. 

That perspective is important when considering the chaos of today, because it casts a positive, contrasting light on the years before, a sense of nostalgia that clouds our judgment about our past struggles. 

“I was failing all my classes,” said Dimond Student Emma Ridle, when asked about her memories of last year. “All my stuff was taken away.” 

In the 2018-2019 school year, there were even more hardships faced by students and staff. 

Not only had Dimond faced shooting threats, but a massive 7.1 earthquake rocked the building on November 30. 

The quake and its subsequent aftershocks traumatized many students.

To put it bluntly, we’ve been through worse than 2020.

The past few years weren’t all bad, though.

 Several fond memories are sprinkled between the barrage of negativity, and it’s worth picking out these diamonds in the rough. 

“My favorite memories were sneaking out of assemblies to hang out with my friends behind the school,” said Ridle. 

There are less specific feelings of nostalgia that are brought forward when recalling the past few years. 

Due to COVID, the idea of being around people seems so much more special and appealing than it would back then.

 “My favorite memories of the school year last year were being able to see my friends and being able to laugh in the hallways,” said Kristy Eide, a junior at Dimond High. 

Dimond Junior Josh Pacillo shares a similar sentiment, describing his favorite memories as “being able to freely hang out with my friends at lunch and see them every day.”

A lot has changed since March 2020, the last time students were inside the Dimond building.

 “Since March there have been people that show respect towards everyone around them, and try to keep people safe, Cleaning in stores has become a lot more important and I think it always should’ve been,” Eide said. 

Schooling, in particular, has drastically changed, moving from an in-person format to an online, module-and-dropbox-based format. 

This change has affected students in varying ways.

 “School has been much easier in my opinion just because my program allows me to do everything at my own pace with no due dates,” Ridle said, “but it has been a lot lonelier and I don’t like not being able to see my friends every day.”

Regardless of when in-person school returns, students at Dimond want to see a change in how the school functions, putting particular stress on COVID responsibility.

“When we go back, I want to see the pandemic being taken seriously,” Pacillo said. “I don’t want there to be the fear of catching COVID, if your classmates could get it, or even your teachers. I want control of COVID to take priority over returning to in-person schooling.” 

Eide and Ridle both agreed that there should be strict desk-cleaning protocol, with Ridle suggesting a mask mandate.

Tina Johnson-Harris, the principal of Dimond High, spoke to me via email about what may be different when we return to school. 

The biggest change that we will all experience when we return to in-person classes is our behavior,” Johnson-Harris said. 

“All of us will have a personal responsibility in ensuring a safe environment by following our mitigation plan to stop the spread of the virus.” 

Johnson-Harris confirmed that there will be a mask mandate upon return to school, as well as enforced social distancing. “[our plan] will require us to consistently wear a mask, wash our hands and social distance as much as possible.”