Woodgrove Wild Winds Down

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Photo provided by Ainsleigh Shipp.

Students gather at the Dulles Marriott for an “Old Hollywood” themed prom.

As Woodgrove returned to the building for the 2021-2022 school year, students and faculty found themselves challenged with readjusting to life outside of lockdown. Despite the familiar building, students felt as though they were in a different environment. The year has seen changes of all sorts, but Wolverines have tackled these differences with an optimistic outlook. As the school year c

Seniors, Jenna Slepetz and Lindsey Somers on the “Sky Meadows” hike in Outdoor Ed. (Photo provided by Caroline Rooney.)

omes to a close, Woodgrove looks back on the new normal with the lingering memory of the year spent apart.

Students returned to the building, reeling from the effects of online school. Changes in wake-up time, attention span, stress management, and instructional methods left students overwhelmed, but hopeful for the year to come. Being among peers and faculty once more allowed students to redevelop social and educational skills lost overtime at home. Students and faculty were faced with the task of readjusting. “I spent the first quarter recovering, and that was probably one of the most devastating starts to the school year. You’re still worn out from the effort you put in the previous year. I finally feel like I’m catching my breath now, and here we are almost into the fourth quarter,” said physics teacher Ms. Erin Barrett. The shared experience of online learning has allowed for stronger connections than ever before — students are reminded they aren’t alone in their struggles, providing a sense of comfort amidst the frustration.

It’s important to note that not all change is negative. Barrett went on to share that the innovative technology she and her students learned at home has changed the way she instructs in the classroom, “Some of the principles I learned from the Modern Classroom Project have helped me to implement a self-paced plan this year that has gone really well… along with that, I’ve created my instructional videos which allows kids to digest them and come up with specific questions so that when I’m working with them it’s to address their needs and understand them.”

Also in the fall, Wolverines were exposed to bits of normality, such as the Woodgrove football games and pep rallies. The student section, or the Wild, was filled to the brim with students who were dressed to the themes and screaming their hearts out for the team. However, some student cheer events didn’t have the same tone as previous years. Pep rallies couldn’t be held inside due to CDC guidelines, but the administration and student council rallied to have them outside as an alternative. Along those same lines, the homecoming dance was also moved outside to accommodate the large student body. The stadium was transformed by rows of twinkling lights illuminating the dance floor to create a “Once Upon a Time” sensation. In the building, the school schedule changed to include DenTime or FaceTime following first block. Students had to also get used to using E-Hallpass again after a year and a half of being on their own. 

As winter arrived, Wolverines settled into a familiar school pattern. December set in with an abundance of holiday parties, concerts, and finally, winter break, allowing students time to relax after three months of hard work. Woodgrove said goodbye to Assistant Principal Mr. Don Keener as he retired from his administrative career, and welcomed interim Assistant Principal Mr. Wagner Grier. Following the football season, school spirit was kept alive with the Wild gathering at basketball games. The Girls Varsity Basketball team saw great success, inspiring young players in the community and ultimately traveling to Richmond to compete in States. The second quarter flew by with six snow days in January. 

In February, students protested the school mask mandate. This resulted in their suspension and ultimate return after the mask mandate was abandoned. Governor Youngkin passed a fast tracked bill enforcing schools to make masks optional, overturning the prior legislation from former governor Ralph Northam.

Wolverines have much to look forward to during spring such as the library renovation, spring sports, SpongeBob the Musical, prom, graduation, and more! However, there is a price to pay for all this fun, and that is end of the year exams. AP and final assessments take up the months from March through May, with seniors leaving for capstones on May 23rd. 

End of the year testing is often an intense time for many students. However, junior Natalie Orfanides states, “The English SOLs were the least stressful tests I have ever taken. Mr. Clawson did tons of reviews and prepared us well.” On the other hand, AP exams are stressing students to the maximum. Junior Michelle Chatfield says, “It is very overwhelming that my entire year is based on this one exam.”

On a happier note, sports such as soccer and track are underway. Student athletes are excited to get back into a regular spring sports season compared to the shortened season in 2021. Senior Jorja Rich says, “Track meets are bigger this year, which is good because I like competition!” Despite the joy that athletes are feeling, they are reaping the consequences of all of last season’s intricate COVID rules. Rich states, “Athletics were hard to get back into. Missing a year of high jumping was hard.” Even though students found it challenging to compete again, many are appreciative of the team spirit that has come with a full sports season.

Students hard at work to create the set of “SpongeBob the Musical!” (Photo by Robbie Showers.)

In the arts, the drama department performed SpongeBob as the spring musical from May 4th through May 7th. The lead role of SpongeBob was played by Senior Serena Parrish, who has also been featured off Broadway. 

On April 22, Woodgrove held prom at the Dulles Marriott. The theme selected by the junior class was Old Hollywood. The halls were decorated with Oscar-like memorabilia and gambling tables were available for students. The dance floor was packed with students celebrating. 

Seniors will soon be out of the familiar halls of Woodgrove High School and embarking upon life’s journey. Senior Angela Gutierrez states, “I am super excited for graduation. However, I have some nerves regarding taking the next steps toward my future. I know all will be well in the end, and although I’m sad to leave lifelong friends, I am so happy for everyone.” Graduation will take place on June 17th at 8AM, where friends and family are invited to celebrate this milestone. 

Overall, despite the changes, students and faculty are thrilled to be back in the classroom. Finally, the entire student body is back together where they all belong: Woodgrove High School.