The 2020 school year will undoubtedly go down as one of the strangest and most challenging in the history of the school, but we are delighted to have the matrics back in the building and things are going well with the boys.
We spoke to one of them, Euan Springfield, to find out how it’s been to come back to a school that is quite different in some ways.
It was a little crazy at first, he told us, but they are settling into the new routine now and everyone seems to be more comfortable. “In the first few days it was all about protocols, health and safety and new rules, which was a lot to handle,” he said. “But the school had obviously done a lot of planning and the staff helped us to settle down quite quickly.”
The best thing was getting to see and interact with friends again. “We talk through masks and you have to keep a distance,” Euan said, “but it didn’t take long for the old banter to come through and the brotherhood is still strong. After three months of being cooped up alone it made for a welcome change.”
The week before the lockdown Euan was awarded colours for academics and he is hoping for four distinctions at the end of the year, so missing out on teaching has been a concern for him. “Now that we are back and in face-to-face contact with the teachers I realise that we at Jeppe have been fortunate. Our online learning got going quickly and we covered enough ground to make sure that we didn’t miss too much,” he said.
“It won’t take long to go over it in class now and my teachers are all confident that we are on track. In fact, we are ahead of where we would have been in some instances because of the time we spent online and we are definitely ahead of many other schools in the country who weren’t as well off as far as online learning went.”
Missing out on sport has of course been a major disappointment. Euan was hoping to play for the 2nd rugby team and the 1st soccer team and, he said, it’s hard not to feel like he has been robbed of opportunities. “It’s been heart-breaking to think that we won’t have a matric sporting year and it was what everyone spoke of when we first got back to school. The guys are getting to accept it now, however, and we realise that there is nothing that can be done about it. Life will go on and in the long term it won’t make much of a difference to our lives.”
There have been important lessons coming out of the pandemic, Euan believes. “At Jeppe we tend to live in a bubble and we tend to forget that not everyone has what we have,” he said. “I have become far more aware of the inequalities that exist and I realise that you can’t complain about sport when some learners rely on the meals they get at school each day to survive.
“Poverty and food security weren’t things I thought about much before, now I now about them and I appreciate what we have at a school like Jeppe.”
The matric exams will start a little later this year and there’s a slight chance that there might be some sport later on after all. Until then, Euan is just happy to be back at school, interacting with his teachers and fooling around with his mates. We are thrilled to have him, and them, back.