Over the past six years I’ve spent on staff, I’ve grown to love my Circle School mornings. When the doors open at 8am, a few kids are usually already waiting on the stone bench out front. The rest follow in waves, on school buses, or trickling in by car. From the front desk, I read my email, sip my coffee, and greet students as they come through the glass doors of the lobby — saying hello, waving to groups already engaged in animated conversation, or acknowledging sleepy teenagers with a nod. I know everyone’s name. The Circle School is a small, tight-knit community.
For close to a year, The Circle School’s routines (and my morning routine) have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Morning symptom screenings were added to students’ and staff members’ entry routines when we opened for the 2020-21 school year in late August; and since Thanksgiving, while school has been happening mostly online, my mornings in the office have been quite lonely indeed!
So, you can imagine my delight when school first opened in LITE mode on January 11 and Declan burst through the doors in the afternoon and said, “Good morning, Ellen!” “Good morning, Declan!” I said. We both knew it was 2pm, but Declan and I feel ready to get back to our old routines.
So do other Circle Schoolers, and on February 22 we’ll return to our daily lives at school, on campus, all day together. Over the past week or so, staff member Beth Stone talked to students and staff, asking for the top three things they were looking forward to about school’s full reopening. Over and over, the same things came up: community, campus, and routines.
Community: “I’m excited to see my friends.” “Seeing all the happy smiling faces returning to school, and being able to spend time in person with everyone again.” “Talking with my friends.” “Seeing everyone again!” “Seeing my friends and making new ones.” “Getting to see my friends.”
Campus: “Creek walks.” “The books in the library.” “Sledding and snowball fights.” “Drawing pictures in the art room.” “Geo mags and Legos.” “Setting up hammocks outside when it gets warm.” “To just be back… it feels nice, it feels like my place.”
Routines: “Having classes in person.” “Being able to get back to a more normal routine of meetings and things!” “Going to the critical thinking discussion group to discuss random topics.” “An incentive to get back on a regular sleep schedule.” “Weirdly, JC!” (which stands for Judicial Committee, a rotating group of students and staff that handle instances of rule breaking). No one said chores.
The Circle School is steeped in community, routine, and tradition, new and old — daily chores, weekly meetings, conversation and kinship with friends, ramen noodle messes, games of capture the flag and gaga ball, just to name a few. It’s my hope that February 22 will mark a return to the routines that help us feel “normal”, and that we’ll experience the camaraderie and joy of being in community together on our beautiful campus. “A building filled with the sounds of busy, happy people.” I can’t wait to say good morning.
For the full list of quotes from students and staff, click here.
– Ellen Abbott