“The beginning of the end of my high school journey”

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Laurinne Eugenio

On Wednesday, July 21, marked the first day of in-person school for Bonita Vista High students for the school year 2021-2022.

I never thought this day would come. After almost 16 months, Bonita Vista High (BVH) re-opened its gates and welcomed students back to in-person school with bright eyed smiles from BVH staff. For me, it was like a long-awaited hug and reunion between a child and their second home. Wednesday, July 21, marked the beginning of the end of my high school journey. 

BVH cheerleaders lined up by the school’s main entrance and greeted incoming students with their gold and black colored pom poms. I awkwardly sped towards the inside of campus; the experience still felt fresh and a little nerve-wracking. For the past year and a half, I was so used to being greeted by my teachers from the other side of a screen and the students remained hidden behind initials as I stared into the void.

Now that we’re back on campus, black screens and colored initials became people I could see and interact with. Feelings of emptiness, isolation and disconnection have been restored by a strong sense of belonging and community. “Finally,” I sighed to myself. 

Returning to school seemed like an escape; a break free from the alienating environment that was remote learning. ”

— Laurinne Eugenio

Being on campus felt nostalgic. I was reminded of the warm memories built with friends and teachers during my freshman and sophomore years. But beyond that, being back in person made me feel lucky and privileged. Returning to school seemed like an escape; a break free from the alienating environment that was remote learning. 

Furthermore, it’s quite astonishing to think that the class of 2022 are the only ones fortunate enough to experience a full first year and last year of high school in person. Students from other grade levels were forced to start and end their initial or final year in high school under distance learning, which means we really are the lucky ones

Seeing my teachers and classmates for the first time in several months was definitely the highlight of being back on campus. Distance learning was convenient, but oftentimes, it started to feel like confinement. I, like many others, longed for and craved human, social interaction. Although I could only see half of the people’s faces due to their masks, I could still sense their emotions and expressions through their eyes. 

English playwright, poet and actor, William Shakespeare, once said that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” With the wearing of masks, students’ and teachers’ eyes did a lot of the talking. 

I noticed that excitement was conveyed through crescent moon-shaped eyes. Astonishment was expressed through raised and arched eyebrows and widened eyes. Annoyance and discontent were exhibited through lowered eyebrows that were drawn together and narrowed eyes; some would even roll their eyes.

In short, people’s eyes communicate in a way that mouths can’t.  

Seven classes later, I went home from school feeling mentally and physically exhausted. It seemed as if my body had forgotten what “normal” school was like. Nevertheless, I look forward to continuing school on campus for in-person learning to conclude my final year in high school with crescent moon-shaped eyes.