Bittersweet blues: Class of 2022 reflects on their last first day of high school


Photo credit: Layla Huber-Verjan

Seniors Mikayla Weinhouse, Isabella Specchierla, Faith Soriano, Thea Leimone, Gabby Wolf, Lily Miro, Lauren Robson, Ali Aragon and Marissa Gendy pose for a photo in the Eastern Star courtyard following upper school orientation. The students are dressed in the formal uniform blazers to mark the occasion.

After years of back-to-school shopping, color-coding classes, front porch photos and the age-old argument of folder versus binder, the Class of 2022 experienced their last first day of high school on Monday, August 30.

The upper school welcome assembly was the first day that the entirety of the senior class has been together since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020.

Walking onto campus, many of the seniors expressed an array of emotions. While student body president Langdon Janos communicated a sense of “nervousness” and “joy,” senior Jacqueline Marks described her apprehensions of coming back to school, saying “Archer doesn’t feel like Archer yet.”

“I made the decision to wait [to come onto campus] until senior year, which was the right decision for me,” Marks said. “The lack of freedom was immediately hard to cope with, but it’s a good trade—it’s better being here than not here—I’m glad to be back.”

Senior Jessica Jimenez echoed this sentiment stating that coming back onto campus was a “huge” change but was also “much needed” after being indoors every day throughout the pandemic.

“I think one of my biggest goals is taking advantage of all the time I have left,” Jimenez said. “Seeing the grass, the fountain, the small things, made me realize how much we take for granted.”

Amid 17 months of virtual learning and mass disconnection within the Archer community, Head of School Elizabeth English announced during the upper school welcome assembly that the theme of this year is “intention”.

“Every day I am trying to be really intentional about the way that I am carrying myself and holding myself to a certain standard of taking care of other people on-campus so that I can set an example, especially for the seniors,” 12th grade dean Kathleen Bergen said. “We all have a lot of responsibilities and things that we’re rushing to and from and it’s important for us to slow down and to really be present for each other.”

Following English’s speech, when addressing the senior class, Janos said that she is “excited to spend one final year with you all [the Class of 2022]” and feels “beyond lucky to have 65 best friends.” As the first week of school comes to a close for the seniors, Bergen shared similar sentiments and concerns for normalcy.

“It’s bittersweet,” Bergen said. “I have to realize that this is the beginning of their last year and I feel this huge weight of responsibility to make sure that that they’re able to get everything that they deserve.”