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From The Cafeteria To The Carpool Line, We Check In With Those Returning to The Riverbank

Lion Staff

From students to parents to coaches, Lovett Lion reporters have been talking with people all across campus to find out how their summers were, and what it's like to be back.

With class back in session, Lovett community members are getting reacclimated to every aspect of school life. From students to parents to coaches, Lovett Lion reporters have been talking with people all across campus. On behalf of the newspaper staff, we hope you enjoy this opportunity to check in with some of our Lovett family members as we kick off the new school year. 

Julia Jamieson - Actress
By Grayson Blaske

It’s a few minutes to 6 pm, but sophomore Julia Jamieson is still at practice for the upcoming musical showcase. She has recently finished rehearsing monologues with the other readers in the show, so she sits in the Blackbox watching two of her fellow cast members practice a duet.

I walk over to join her, and I ask her about her about what’s going on in her life in a low whisper to avoid interrupting the final moments of rehearsal. Today hasn’t been the easiest day for Julia. “AP World was really stressful,” she tells me. “I had an English quiz, and I feel like I didn’t do well on it. And I’m hungry.”

These speed bumps aren’t putting the brakes on Julia’s good mood. She’s excited about several things this year with the first thing on her list being no longer being a freshman. She’s also looking forward to “meeting new people and not being so confused.”

The musical showcase is in just a few short weeks, and Julia has high hopes for this innovative new show. “I’m excited,” she says. “ I think when it comes together it’ll be great, but right now it’s chaos.”

Over the summer Julia stayed busy with trips to Greece, France, and Puerto Rico.

As the singers near the end of a run of the song “Beautiful,” from the musical “Ordinary Days,” Julia tells me about her plans for the evening. It’s a pretty typical schedule: go home, shower, and do some homework. “I’m hoping to sleep before midnight,” she says. 

Then she remembers one more thing. “Oh, maybe I’ll make cookies.” I ask what kind. “Chocolate chip,” she says without a moment of hesitation. Hopefully those chocolate chip cookies will make for a sweet end to a long, busy day.

David Eccles - Orchestra Teacher
By Grayson Blaske

It’s 1:26 pm on a Monday, and today is David Eccles’ second day teaching as Lovett’s new lead orchestra teacher. He’s sitting in his office working. There are already personal accents on the walls and papers spread across his desk. As he settles into his new space, he is trying to “learn the kids, learn the schools, and pick out music.”

Mr. Eccles is loving Lovett, and he says he feels welcomed. “Really, from the whole interview process everyone’s been so friendly and supportive and forthright about working here,” he tells me. “I was talking to some of the other new teachers, and we’re like can this really be real? Can an institution be this nice?” According to Mr. Eccles, Lovett can.

The fall orchestra concert isn’t until October, but Mr. Eccles is already raring to go. “That’s going to be our first time in public to really show the Lovett community and the world what our trajectory is for the year,” he says of the orchestra. 

This year, the fall concert will be called Orchtoberfest (which, in my humble opinion, is an excellent choice.) Mr. Eccles’ plans for the set list include a variety of composers and genres. He’s especially excited about “October” by Eric Whittaker. He describes the piece as “a musical depiction of changing of seasons and the beauty of Autumn.”

Mr. Eccles had a wildly busy summer from beginning to end. In fact, he was still teaching at his last school in Chicago until the Saturday before faculty started back at Lovett for pre-planning on Thursday, only five days later. “We had our commencement ceremony and concert on Saturday, jumped in a [moving] truck on Sunday and Monday, unloaded the truck on Tuesday and Wednesday, and started Thursday.”

Despite the fast turn-around, Mr. Eccles is finding his rhythm at Lovett. He says life is all about rhythm (which makes sense for an orchestra teacher), and right now, part of finding his rhythm is finding a seat at the lunch table. “I’m like a freshman here,” he explains. “At lunch, I’m asking ‘Can I sit with you?’”

Mr. Eccles is also excited to explore other areas of Lovett. “I can’t wait to go to a football game,” he tells me. “I love supporting the institution and the young athletes who put their heart out on the line in pursuit of physical excellence.” 

Outside of football, he would like to get into soccer because of its popularity in Atlanta, and he wants to check out Lovett’s swim and volleyball teams for his daughter who he is hoping will attend Lovett in the future.

One of my favorite back-to-school things is asking my mom, a middle school teacher outside of Lovett, if she has any particularly interesting students in her classes this year. This is how I preface a similar request to Mr. Eccles, and luckily, he obliges. He tells me about two students in the Upper School orchestra who have stood out to him thus far. 

He recalls how, on the first day of class, senior Koffi Lacefield came in with “his big bass voice booming in the whole room.” He also notes senior Ralston Goldfarb’s enthusiasm. “He’s in full-on senior mode. Like ‘I’m gonna squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of every class I have.’”

For the rest of the day, Mr. Eccles is returning his attention to the papers on his desk. “I’m finishing my syllabus and my handbook and going through our incredible library of pieces to try and figure out what I want to play next.”

Thomas Robinson - Freshman
Patrick Pitts - Junior
By John Srouji

Most of us are here for our second, third, or fourth year in the Lovett Upper School (or perhaps if you are a teacher, much longer), but for lots, the upper school is brand new and uncharted territory. 

I catch freshman Thomas Robinson coming from his Directed Study class. One of his first impressions of the upper school is that he likes how it’s “not all in just one hallway and it’s much more spread out.” Yeah, it's nice to move around campus a bit, but when you have engineering in the community center, and then you have to trek all the way up to the third floor of the upper school for math, then maybe it’s not as fun. 

He’s also a huge fan of the upper school schedule. He enjoys enjoys the breaks and having only four or five classes a day.

Still, he misses the summer. “So this weekend has been nice,” he tells me. 

Of course, some students have been here all summer. 

Junior Patrick Pitts has been practicing for Cross Country here since summer began. He tells me that Cross Country is a sport that is won in the off-season, so he has to constantly be practicing. 

I met Patrick in the student lounge to talk to him about how the year has been going.  If you’ve ever been in the student lounge, you probably know that it can get a bit noisy in there. And sure enough, as I entered I was welcomed with some loud French music playing from someone’s laptop. Why? I’m not quite sure...

As for the new school year, Patrick is excited about finally being able to drive to school on his own. Patrick tells me that the privilege of driving is something he’s been looking forward to for a while now. 

A trickier opportunity for Patrick is “taking [his] first AP class.” He’s taking AP Physics and he tells me that he’s a bit nervous about the workload of the class and that he hopes he’ll be able to handle it.

Perhaps that loud French music will give him the energy he needs to make it through.

Jeff Turner - New History Teacher
Nancy Cruz - Returning Language Teacher
Robyn Martin - Librarian
By Kaitlyn Garrett

For some of our teachers, walking back into the Lovett school in August is a return to familiar territory. For others it is a chance to apply the skills they honed at other schools in a brand new environment. I spoke to a teacher who has been at Lovett for a while now and one new to our community to get their respective takes on Lovett life so far.

Mr. Turner is a new face to look for in the Lovett hallways. He is coming to us from Richmond’s St. Catherine’s School, where he taught bucketloads of history courses, advised the student Newspaper, and was a coach for cross country. Mr. Turner now teaches Global History and Honors American Studies. 

Mr. Turner describes his first week at Lovett as both challenging and wonderful: “After 20 years at my previous school, I knew the routine. There is, of course, a whole new culture to learn here. But I can't say enough nice things about how welcoming the Lovett community has been to me and my family.” 

Even though this transition period will take some time, Mr. Turner says that his expectations for Lovett have been met so far. Based on his visit to Lovett last February, he was expecting “smart, dedicated colleagues and engaged students...and Lovett so far has lived up to those expectations.” 
Mr. Turner has certainly enjoyed engaging with his students, and he hopes that his students have enjoyed the classes as much as he has! Mr. Turner’s passion and engagement in teaching History come from  the “unexpected question or observation from a student that causes me to think about history in a new way.” He thinks it’s a good sign that he’s already had a few of those moments.  
While it is a little to early for us to expect Mr. Turner to have everything figured out about Lovett life, he certainly matches our love for community and relationships inside and outside of the classroom. And that includes time on the commute to school. 
“I'm getting a kick out of the little daily memories made while driving to and from the Lovett campus with my wife (also a new employee) and daughter (a new 11th-grader),” he says.
I also checked in with Mrs. Cruz, who is starting her sixth year at Lovett, to see if she was noticing anything new or different this year about Lovett life. 
“I feel like every year’s different,” she says, “and it always depends on who’s the senior class and the way that they lead, and I feel like this year the seniors are so sweet and it’s really bittersweet for me because I taught a lot of them when they were a lot younger... but I’m also really excited because they’re awesome.”
Clearly, Mrs. Cruz has made it a priority to make connections with students, and she uses them as a way to teach her students on a deeper level.
“Getting to know them and getting to know about their lives I feel like helps the classroom a lot,”  she says. “That’s the core of my style.” 
I also checked in with head librarian Ms. Martin who has described this year as “pretty quiet” so far. 
Ms. Martin is busiest during the school year with American Studies. This year the on-level classes are going to be trying something a little different, and she is excited about what that may mean. 
Ms. Martin also has a senior advisory this year; this has graduated three senior advisories so far. 
I asked her about what it was like to watch her students grow up over the years. Does she notice a lot of changes? 
“I think it's a mix,” she says. “Some of them have been the same all four years, others look more grown up to me coming back over the summer.” 
While Ms. Martin says she often notices the bigger changes physically in students between ninth and tenth grade, for this year’s class, she thinks they look older this year than ever before. 

Thomas Daniellay, Twana Abner, David Morris - Cafeteria Staff
By Kamryn Washington

We all know the people who provide our lunch food during the school year. Or, at least we think we know them. While summer brings moments full of laughter, fun, and relaxation for us, those very people who work in the cafeteria have their own aspirations and business to attend to. 

So, who is actually behind that fried ravioli we all know and love? I decided to go catch the dining hall staff in their element, inside of the dining hall prepping for the day.

Thomas Daniellay says he had a great summer. “I went to see my grandkids in Georgia,” he said. “We swam, went to a few parks, went shopping.” Meanwhile, some of Thomas’s colleagues spent their break doing other activities, from having a staycation and doing housework to spending the summer on Lovett’s campus. 

But the Summer fun came to an end by the middle of August. While most students arrive on campus around eightish, Lovett’s dining hall faculty are up way before the sun. 

While prepping for the busy day ahead, Twana Abner, most commonly known as Tee, had a less than restful morning. “I normally wake up at 3AM,” she said, “My day has been going pretty well so far. Although I had really bad sinuses this morning around 2AM.” Thomas said he comes work at five, but work doesn’t start until 6:30. So, for the dining hall staff, the days start bright ‘n early.

Outside of preparing and serving food to the often moody teenagers, everyone had one common aspiration: the long awaited retirement! 

While constructing various types of sandwiches, David Morris told me he had his whole retirement planned. “Me and my wife are going to get in the car and go West, starting in Alabama. Then, we are going to go all the way out to California.” The purpose for all this travel? “My goal is to meet my first cousins and their children and grandchildren,” he said. 

Tee was less optimistic about retirement. She had many concerns. “I plan on retiring sometime in four to five years if everything goes according to plan,” she said. “I have to be ready, mentally, physically, and emotionally. But, my main concern is health costs.” As Tee said, “You never know.”

But before they can retire, they have to take each day one step at at time. Starting with the beginning of a new school year. For some, the year has been passing in the blink of an eye, but for Tee it has been off to a slow start. But she is positive that after a few weeks, everything will get into its natural swing. 

And although Fridays are normally the most anticipated day of the week, for David it brings the most stress. “Fridays are stock days. So we have to get everything ready,” he said. This year there are new food items in stock. According to Thomas, Lovett is now serving sun butter instead of peanut butter due to allergy concerns. 

Before your alarm clock rings in the morning, Lovett’s dining hall staff are working hard to prepare a delicious meal for the children who wander the halls. Behind the aprons, hair nets, and latex gloves are all real people who also enjoy their summers and are now working hard to make the beloved orange chicken. 

A Parent in Carpool
By: Campbell Key 

I walked down to the MAC a bit before school got out to beat the rush and walked up to my first victim, a woman in a black SUV. I asked if I could interview her for the newspaper, but she said no. Then a few more parents said no thanks, but I didn’t lose hope. Finally, a very nice lady in a white SUV reluctantly agreed to let me ask her a few questions. 

Her daughter has been at Lovett since first grade, and this year was her first year of middle school (the best time in everyone’s life). She said that she was very excited for her daughter to have more freedom and responsibilities this year. Middle school definitely is a big step in a kids life to becoming an adult. 

The plan, after her daughter showed up, was to go to Michael’s to pick up more string for her daughter’s bracelet making hobby. (I don't remember this being a thing. Is bracelet making the new slime? I asked in newspaper class, and freshman Mary Grace Samp held up her bracelet clad arms and legs.) 

Later that evening, the mom would be going to parent night. She was looking forward to learning about what middle school would be like for her daughter, as she would get to walk around and see all of her classes. 

But that was hours away. For now, she would wait for her daughter. 

Katharine Childs - Cross Country Team Member
By Veronika Valia

Lovett athletes face the daunting challenge of balancing classes with demanding practice and game schedules. While sports can serve as a stress reliever, bonding tool or a simple break from academic or other extracurricular work, coming back to long school hours coupled with daily practices can be a bit of a shock, especially with summer practices starting two weeks before school. 

For Katharine Childs, a sophomore and member of cross country, those summer practices were “more laid back, but gave us a good chance to stay in shape or get back into shape if we needed to.” 

With the start of school, Katharine has had to get back into mental shape as well. “It was a lot more than I thought it would be,” she says. “Last year there wasn’t much homework until well into the second week, but this year I just got hit with stuff to do, and I didn’t think I was prepared, but I guess I was because it felt fine getting done.” 

Participating in daily practices also helps many athletes improve their time management skills. Katharine says that at the beginning of her freshman year, it was a lot harder to balance her busy schedules, but she now seems to have gotten the hang of it. “It kind of feels like summer never even happened,” she says, not sounding too mournful,“because I’m already back into the routine I always had.”

What has been a knock to the routine is the weather, in this case daily temperatures in the 90s. Cross country holds practices and meets outdoors and as a “fall” sport (beginning in August), sweltering days are the norm. Katharine says the heat makes her feel as if she’s working out a lot harder than she actually is, and she much prefers running on a cool fall day towards the end of the season. She also says that it’s “a little worrying because sometimes you get symptoms of heat exhaustion” but that you just have to push through and remember to stay hydrated. 

Heat concerns aside, Katharine says she enjoys spending time with her friends, and getting to improve. ”It is simple and easy to put in the effort and get better,” she says. “I feel better and accomplished after a good run, and I like that it helps me clear my mind.”

Riley Mackinson - A Softball Athlete 
By Veronika Valia 

Sophomore Riley Mackinson, an outfielder on the varsity softball team, enjoys the intimate nature of the team. “We have to get to know each other,” she says. 

In preparation for back to school, the softball team held summer practices, as is customary for most teams. Compared to the practices after school, “summer practices are harder to get through because a lot of the time I haven’t been doing anything all day and then I have to go and practice in the heat.” She finds after school practices easier “because my energies already flowing but it’s also harder because I have been doing things all day and I’m so tired.”

Coming back to school has been a bit of an adjustment, she says.  The upperclassmen have been driving them up to the field, but if they have to do anything after school or go to tutorial they have to walk up the hill. 

As an outfielder, Riley is in a position that requires lots more running than the other positions. “There are five of us on a good day, and sometimes we have to run the bases for the infielders,” she says. It also gets really hot, especially because they have to wear pants and helmets. “It’s just the pants that make it hot,” she says. “If I was in shorts I probably wouldn’t complain half as much.”

Although playing softball takes commitment and energy, it’s all worth it. “Playing with the people on my team is the best part,” she says. Clearly, they’re getting to know each other.

Robert Newby - Security
By Katie Maier

While the rest of us are cruising off to our summer vacation destinations, life carries on for the Lovett campus. Although some students might imagine the school grounds as a sort of desolate ghost town in the summer weeks, complete with the occasional tumbleweed rolling across the plaza, the school grounds are very much occupied, which means we still need protection. 

“We stay busy for the most part,” says security guard Robert Newby as I meet him outside the security office, “because the summer camps are going on, and you still have football practice. You still have a lot of special events...we just want to make sure that everyone is here safely and secure.”

As a security guard at Lovett, Robert spends a lot of his time during the summer directing large masses of people around campus in order to keep all these activities running smoothly. At other times, however, he patrols a Lovett campus very unlike the one we are accustomed to: a nearly empty one. Perhaps without tumbleweeds.

“Oh God,” Robert laughs, admitting, “it can be scary sometimes.” For the most part, however, he feels safe on campus, and believes that his role “just chose [him.]”

Obviously, Robert is a really good guy, although he was once a teenager just like all of us, and he had his own run-ins with school rules. 

“Yeah,” he confesses, “I went to Riverdale high, and I did get in a lot of trouble.” Maybe that’s why he is so good at what he does today. 

Jennifer Raulet - Parent/Front Desk Guardian
By Katie Maier

Any Lovett student who has ever stepped foot in the Poole Foyer during the school day has passed by the sign-in desk. Thanks to a recent renovation in the Foyer, this desk has become a somewhat more prominent installment in the area. However, it probably hasn’t changed the fact that us students usually disregard the desk itself, and the Lovett community member who is running it. 

I had a brief conversation with Mrs. Raulet, one of the Lovett moms who take turns volunteering at this sign-in desk. In this role, she does different tasks such as signing in visitors and giving them directions around our campus. 

When I asked about how these first few days back at school, she laughed and said “better than expected.” She has two daughters at Lovett who have been “adjusting to school pretty well.”  

In talking to Mrs. Raulet, I didn’t learn any sort of gossip that will make it into the tabloids, but I did have a very nice conversation with someone who is really helping out with the day to day workings of our school.

So, the next time you are darting in or out of the foyer on your way around campus, make sure to say hi to the Lovett mom who is helping out behind the front desk. And while you’re at it, go ahead and thank your own parents for sending you to such a great school. 

Ryan Randolph - JV Volleyball Coach
Mary Olszewski - Cross Country Coach
By Mary Grace Samp

At Lovett, sports are a big deal, and the only way that they can happen is with the help of the coaches. Most sports that are going on now, like football and volleyball, have been practicing even longer than we have been back at school. 

I headed over to the middle school (my not-so-old stomping grounds) to chat with Mr. Randolph, the head coach of the JV Volleyball team, who said that the girls were back weeks before school, and they even played their first game before book pick-up. 

All of his players are completely new to high school sports, which he says will make it “an exciting new year.” 

Apparently, they practice “every day,” and the girls work hard to achieve their goals, balancing work, practice, games, and just being freshmen who are still trying to work out their schedules. 

Gabriella Janis is one of the girls facing this challenge. “It’s very hard to find time after practice without falling asleep,” she said. “It’s hard to do it all in the small amount of time after practice.”

Before getting back onto the court with the volleyball players, Mr. Randolph did some traveling, including going to Hawaii. He said that as a teacher and a coach, it is nice to get some time away, but he tries to keep a balance so that coming back to school isn’t terrible. 

I also chatted with a coach who spends most of her time outside, Ms. Olszewski, one of the coaches for both the girls and the boys cross country teams that have been practicing all summer. 

“They started at the beginning of June,” she said, “probably two weeks after school got out, but those are all optional. They started at eight in the morning, Monday through Friday, and we did have a good group turn out for those.” 

The rest of the crew showed up for “official practices starting the first week of August.” This team, both Varsity and JV, practice every day as well. The sport is a huge commitment.

“It’s challenging, but cross country is a lot of fun, so it’s definitely worth it. Also, I feel more motivated to work after practice,” said Mary Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. And being one of the two freshmen girls on varsity hasn’t been a problem. “I think being one of the youngest runners really pushed me because I’m running with more experienced runners,” she said, “so everyday I am learning something new about the sport from my teammates, which is incredible. Everyone on the team is so supportive.”

From what I can tell, every sport that goes on at Lovett has a team that supports each other, even if it is a team in which the athletes compete in individual events. I think that the main people who push such support towards one another are the coaches.

Summer Lewis - Administrative Assistant
By Camille Summers

When you’re job is to keep track of the daily affairs of two busy administrators, you need to get your energy. When I walked into the office, Ms. Summer Lewis was dining on her first Lovett nachos and organizing a calendar. Let me tell you, those nachos looked so good. 

Even though Ms. Lewis was enjoying her nachos, she says that her “favorite lunch so far has been the fried ravioli.” It is only her second week, so she has yet to experience orange chicken, chicken sandwiches, and the cookouts. 

Ms. Lewis works as the administrative assistant for Ms. Stuart Lathan, the Assistant Head of School for External Affairs, and Ms. Chelle Wabrek, the Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs. Before working at Lovett, Ms. Lewis worked at Benchmark Physical Therapy. “I was their office coordinator, and if they needed help in other clinics, whether people were out or sick or the clinic needed help, then I would go in and help fix it.“

Although she is new to Lovett, she has lived in Atlanta for her whole life. “All 24 years of it,” she says. “I love the food. Absolutely love food. My favorite Mexican place is probably No Mas Cantina. They are also like a jewelry store. I actually got this ring from there.” She held up her hand to show me the silver and gray treasure.

With the Lovett nachos, it’s clear that Ms. Lewis won’t have to travel far to satisfy a craving for Mexican food. And she can always head to the campus shop for more jewelry. 
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