Not wanting to jinx anything, I never officially signed off my Milestones in a Mask series in the spring, but I really did think my last installment would be the final one. The future just looked so bright and maskless back in May.
Now, I find myself reflecting once again on the traditions reshaped by Covid-19. I’m a senior this year, so the last few weeks have been riddled with them: senior supper, senior breakfast, senior lunch (jk there’s no senior lunch. At Lovett we apparently just stick to two themed meals). But the tradition I always looked forward to most is a real classic: the senior/kindergarten walk at Opening Chapel.
I vaguely remember being a part of the walk as a kindergartener twelve years ago. Or rather, I remember sitting in the holding cell of the Glasser Gym with my senior buddies ahead of time. As to why I remember that instead of the actual, ceremonious march into Wallace Gym…I guess I didn’t recognize its significance at the age of five.
Over the next eleven years, I grew to understand the importance of the moment as I watched seniors and kindergartners walking hand in hand through the gym doors. Of course, in 2020, things were different, as social distancing prevented any hand-holding standing-within-six-feet-of-each-other. Still, the sentiment was there, and I couldn’t wait to be part of the tradition again.
On August 25, 2021, I finally got my chance. I met my advisory out on the dewy Matthis field, where we got in pairs and met our kindergarten buddies. Mine was a little boy whose bleach-blond hair reminded me of the golden locks I had when I was his age.
Instead of entering through the doors of Wallace Gym, we walked across the football field under a sun that made for an aesthetic but scorching hot morning. The kindergarteners wore masks, but the seniors were free to show our entire faces and hold our buddies’ hands. It was an incredible moment, even if it didn’t look exactly the way it has in years past.
The rest of the chapel service followed the same classic pattern that I admittedly remember getting bored by as a child. The prayers, the speech by the head of school, the singing of the Lovett hymn...although I will say that I seemed to be the only one around me who knew the lyrics of the song (I distinctly remember having to memorize its first verse in kindergarten or first grade, and I guess it stuck with me).
So, after attending thirteen Opening Chapel services throughout my time at Lovett, I can say that this year’s was just as memorable as any other, despite differences in it. And, for one brief, shining moment the masks of the seniors were off so that our full faces could be captured in the lenses of parent’s cameras. It looks like we’ll be spending many of our milestones this year in a holding cell of mask-wearing. But we managed to do this milestone without them, and we can hope that someday soon the masks will also be just a memory.