“Exhilarating,” says Upper School principal Mr. Alig about returning to school in the midst of troubled times. He quickly amends his answer: “Scary. But also exhilarating,”
He says so much planning went into the summer, because there were a lot of questions to answer.“How we were going to move in the hallway, how we were going to structure classes and more and all of that fear and all that apprehension [in terms of safety] is still there.” The upside to all of this, however, was just seeing students again. It is “a reminder to us all everyday of why we're here doing what we’re doing. That’s what’s exhilarating.”
Mr. Alig explains how for him and the rest of the Lovett faculty, all summer was spent planning, especially in June. This is the first summer he hasn’t “broken away.”Imagine that! At least we got a break, albeit at home in front of the T.V.
He emphasized how this is “the most challenging environment he’s ever encountered and [he’s] been in schools for over 30 years.” He jokes, calling it the “sleepless summer.” He was not only anxious about the planning, but also the loss of control, in both the context of COVID and things going on in Atlanta. There were limits on how much they could know about “how we were going to approach the year.”
But on a more positive note he says how, when they started planning in late July and early August, it became less stressful as he had more of an idea of what was going to happen. “It was a good pick me up,” he says with a smile. Maybe we can apply that to our own lives too. Sometimes the apprehension is worse than the actual task.
For Mr. Alig, he had a much bigger job than just finishing up an essay the night before or studying for the ACTs. He had to to rethink the entire school day. How the schedule works, how kids arrive, and how to work on splitting the population in half which, he later says, was very helpful logistically but at the time time is a huge challenge for teachers. From big picture things such as how to give instruction to little things such as how we walk down the halls safely, Mr. Alig was at the forefront of all of it.
Now that the year has started, he thinks that it’s going very smoothly. “One thing COVID has taught us all is humility. There are things we can’t control.” Thoughts are swirling around in a lot of our heads. But despite that, he thinks that things have gone really well.
There's obviously a dark side of COVID, but there are some unexpected rewards. “My world has really shrunk. In a meaningful way,” he says. “Lately, my family and people that we are close with have really been focused on each other.” Also: “We’ve done more cooking,” he says with a smile.
Overall, he thinks we will look back at this experience as a school and “in a strange way we might miss it. There's been a lot of adversity, a lot of fear, but at the same time there’s been a lot of team building, and a lot of camaraderie, which I think is so valuable.”