Past Pandemic Life at Suffield Academy

The 2020-2021 school year was one of the most unusual and unpredictable years at Suffield. September through May, students, faculty, and staff tried to figure out how to live and study during the pandemic with rules constantly changing. Campus life turned out to be quite an unforgettable experience in both interesting and challenging ways.

One of the biggest changes in campus life was the two-week quarantine period following vacations. Each dorm formed one or two cohorts, and each cohort was isolated from the rest of campus. Classes were held online during quarantine, and the only times boarding students got to leave the dorm was to get meals in the dining hall or to go to an afternoon activity. Cohorts were overall unpleasant, as students yearned to get outside and counted days until the quarantine is over. However, cohorts were a great opportunity for finding friendships within the dorm, creating many close-knit communities.

Another major change to campus life was mask mandates. Students had to wear masks everywhere except for their dorm rooms or while eating. People got used to masks pretty quickly; yet, there was a problem: it was very difficult to hear what others had to say so requests to “please repeat” and “speak louder” were heard all the time.

However, last year also brought a lot of innovative and well-liked ideas that helped to make the campus life easier and more fun. For example, in the winter, when the campus was deserted and dorms only half-full, as many students were learning remotely, the broomball tournament emerged. After nearly a year with no sports games, the amateur version of ice hockey lifted the spirits of everyone on campus. People would come to watch teams compete every evening, no matter how cold it was outside. Frankly, there was not much else to do on campus because the restrictions got incredibly serious due to rising Coronavirus numbers in the US.

Another successful idea was the Arts Festival held in May. In the spring, when a lot of people returned to campus, the Visual and Performing Arts Departments worked together to create the Arts Festival, an event with vocal and instrumental performances as well as an exhibition of various paintings, photographs, ceramic sculptures, and movies created by Suffield’s visual artists. The Festival gave Suffield a sense of normalcy, and it was nice seeing everyone come together after a year without all-school activities. The Arts Festival gained a lot of positive reviews, and there is a big chance that it is going to stay at Suffield in the future.

At the end of the school year which seemed to last forever, most students concluded that “it wasn’t that bad.” The restrictions and uncertainty helped to create a strong bond between students as we were in the same boat, cruising through whatever challenges and reliefs came next. And, of course, after such a difficult year, it is a joy to see everyone’s faces light up as they notice the salad bar or discuss the upcoming return to old Suffield in every aspect of campus life.