Rediscovering Woodgrove

The Wild student section roars as a touchdown has been made against the Knights of John Champe High School.

After being in quarantine for almost a year and a half, the Woodgrove Wolverines made their return to in person learning this past August with new policies and new perspectives.

Sophomores, whose 2019-2020 school year was interrupted by COVID-19, have now returned as seniors and are trying to make the most of their final year. In comparison, freshmen are beginning their high school careers, and for many, the last time these students were physically in a school was in seventh grade. As only one grade has been in high school for an entire year, the rest of the student body is playing catch up.

To make this transition easier, the staff and administration at Woodgrove High School implemented the “Welcome Back to the Wild” initiative. In an attempt to reconnect students with their peers and teachers, the first two days of school consisted of team building activities including games, scavenger hunts, and a preview of student courses.

The first two days garnered mixed reactions according to the students. Junior Nathaniel Sonak says, “It’s great to be back in the school with the school community, but the first two days made it feel somewhat forced. However, some of it was necessary to help regain connections, it just lasted too long.” One major change since the 2019-2020 school year is the mandatory mask ruling for Loudoun County Public Schools. This new guideline has come with both support and pushback from all sides of the community and has been a recurring issue in school board meetings. In addition to signs posted around the school, Woodgrove High School Principal Sam Shipp has included how to wear a mask on the morning announcements almost every day.

Since then, masks have become a routine part of all students’ lives and many don’t even think about putting them on daily. Freshman Jameson Mehaffey says he “doesn’t really mind wearing masks anymore.”

For many, the mandate is crucial to a healthy working environment and for their own safety. Woodgrove math teacher Amy McDowell says, “I have five auto-immune diseases, so masking is important to me.” For the foreseeable future, masks will remain a constant in the classroom for the protection of the school community.

Changes have also been made to the dress code, a popular topic of conversation throughout LCPS. Students are now allowed to show straps and waistbands along with being able to wear hats. The number one value in the new dress code is that students feel comfortable and safe in their school.

As change has been underway for every member of the LCPS community, readjusting to the traditional learning environment has not been easy.. Some students worry about a learning gap. “I did not feel I knew half of the material that we reviewed at the beginning of the year. I was academically ready for the content, but the whole process I seemed to forget,” says Sonak.

Teachers have also noticed an increase from the normal back-to-school lag for some students. “The ones that are trying and actually did math last year, are doing fairly well; those that didn’t are going, ‘I don’t remember math from 18 months ago,’” says McDowell.

On the other side of the high school spectrumfall sports and social events are in full swing, without masks so long as they are outside. On Friday nights, the stadium is filled to the brim with Woodgrove families. The roar from the student section can be heard throughout the campus, a stark contrast from the silence a year ago. A homecoming dance and pep rally signaled the return of high school normality as well. The Woodgrove community has been ready to reunite with peers, teachers, and every aspect that makes their two million minutes of high school unique.

Woodgrove students exclaiming during the victorious football game against Briar Woods High School.