Back to School 2020: Interview With Student Council President Daniel Babalola

After much consideration on how to resume school while keeping the community safe and healthy, Severn School decided in late August to operate under a hybrid model combining both online and in person classes. While it has been mostly successful, there have also been some bumps in the road pertaining to the schedule, workload, and technology issues. Although a lot still remains uncertain, almost every area of school life has changed, and there remain a lot of questions about the future, Severn students and faculty have all persevered through these struggles to run school successfully. We all hope school will go back to normal, while we know this will most likely not be the case for some period of time.

We interviewed Daniel Babalola, Student Council president, for some insight on how he thinks school is going so far. These are his responses:

Emily and Alexa: How do you think Severn has handled the coronavirus situation?

Daniel Babalola: I think that Severn has handled the outbreak very well. Though unfortunate, the obvious move last year was to cancel school as quickly as possible; the virus was an unknown entity. Given the amount of time [the school] had to prepare for a virtual school year, I thought that Severn did a remarkable job transitioning into a fully virtual system. From what I’ve heard, a significant amount of preparation went into designing our hybrid model (meetings with health experts, parents, etc.), and I think it paid off coming into the school year. Everything feels well-thought out and directed. I have nothing but praise for our faculty and admin.

Emily and Alexa: Do you like the hybrid model Severn is using?

Daniel: I think Severn made the right decision opting for a hybrid model rather than going completely virtual. It allows students to learn their risk-tolerance and be a bit more thoughtful in ensuring their own safety. Additionally, it’s especially beneficial to both freshmen, who need some semblance of a proper integration into our community, and seniors, who want to end their high school careers doing as much as possible.

Emily and Alexa: What are your thoughts on the new schedule and dress code?

Daniel: Hmm. . . the schedule isn’t something I’m completely happy about, but it is a necessary adaptation. Initially, the six-period days and two to three A-Periods [per week] were a bit tiresome and, of course, elicited quite a few complaints from students. I think that our new schedule relieves a lot of that stress, especially by eliminating the six-period days. My only complaint would be the shortened lunches, because they limit the number of clubs and meetings I can participate in. I’ve also heard quite a few grumblings about students not having enough time to eat, which I can sympathize with. Though these are important concerns, I understand that Severn wants us to keep our masks on for as long as possible. Until a more permanent solution for the outbreak arrives, it’s best for us to live by our adaptive challenge and embrace these changes (which doesn’t mean “just accept it”, but moreso, “make the best of things, think creatively, and find ways to improve the year even with these restrictions”). As far as the dress code goes, I think it’s perfectly fine. While I was grateful for having the experience of consistent free dress, I understand that at the end of the day Severn is still a private school with an image to maintain. Overall, I’m just happy to be back in school! I think this format is several levels above an all-virtual experience, and I’m grateful to all the people who made it possible!

Final thoughts: It has taken an immense amount of time and effort to get to where we are now, and although there is still some uncertainty, the leaders at Severn have made our transition back to school safe, and we are grateful to be here.

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