Masks On, Computers Off: New Students Join BLS


After an abnormal year of Zoom, students adjust to in-person learning. (Source: Rachel Skerritt)

By Joanna Lin (III) and Kevin Zhong (III)

After 18 months of remote learning, Boston Latin School students have finally returned to the Avenue for full in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Exciting,” “welcoming” and “overwhelming” are just a few words used to describe the transition for both new and returning students after a year spent almost exclusively on screens. For those who had never seen the filled hallways and classrooms of BLS, the sheer size of the school and its student population was certainly different from their previous schooling experiences.

Fortunately, many around the school were open to helping the new students adjust to the unfamiliar environment. On his first in-person year at BLS, Joseph Hemr (V) says, “The teachers and older students are helpful and go out of their way to show us where to go and what to do.”

This, however, was not the only step that BLS took to ensure a smooth return. Through detailed emails and extended orientations, students learned more about navigating the school year. In fact, unlike previous years, this year’s new student orientation had a three week in-person program held in August in conjunction with a week-long virtual option.”

Furthermore, this year’s orientation expanded to include curriculum and activities to better prepare students for success. Students participated in a class focused on time and material management, along with discussions about health, wellness, social justice and equity. A field day for students to get to know each other concluded the program.

Ms. Rose Delorme-Metayer, the coordinator of the orientation, credits the teachers for planning and creating a brand new program within a few months. She found that the active participation of the students made it a big success.

“Many students would even hang out in the dining hall to do their orientation homework assignments long after we sent them home for the day. Students were just so happy to participate in something that started to resemble ‘normal school,’” says Ms. Delorme-Metayer.

In addition to the orientation, the BLS B-sie Committee, created to help B-sies adjust to BLS, organized a tour for Class III and IV B-sies to allow students to practice finding their classes before the school year started. Most B-sies in the tenth grade have not been in the school building due to their first year being virtual.

Kasaan Kirby (II), a B-sie and a member of the Committee, recognizes the special challenges B-sies face when entering BLS.

“The sixie students tend to get so much more support than the B-sies do, and it’s hard adjusting into your class right into high school,” says Kirby.

Keeping the pandemic in mind, BLS also made sure that the eighth graders, who had, at most, experienced a few months of hybrid learning in seventh grade, were not forgotten. 

“The email that went to our class before school started was great, because it made us feel like they knew that even though we were in eighth grade, in a lot of ways we would be as lost as the sixies,” adds Hemr.

At BLS, the adjustment process does not end at the first few weeks — it continues far into the school year.

“Our teachers and support staff will plan programs and events throughout the year in order to help our newest students fully immerse themselves in our school community,” says Associate Head of School Jonathan Mulhern.

Looking ahead, many students are thrilled to be able to experience BLS fully this year. Whether it be clubs, sports or the general student community, B-sie Jessica Li (III) finds that investing in the opportunities that BLS provides will be worthwhile.

“Don’t be afraid to go up to someone and start talking to them. Give them a compliment. And then, it goes on from there. Also, join a sports team or a club — it’s always good to know more people.”