Last Friday, at the end of 5th period, Vice Principal Michael Marino interrupted the only performance of the CHS Theater Company’s Broadway Review, bringing the musical to a sudden halt. He turned the lights on. “Okay, this is a special announcement. I will apologize for this. We have to end this play right now. We need everyone to go to their advisory.” With the flick of a switch, months of after school practicing was rendered fruitless for the ensemble.
“I felt really really mad and sad,” described junior Zoe Cute, fighting through tears. “My friend was about to go on and I was really excited for her. It was supposed to be her senior production. I guess they thought someone else was going to catch [coronavirus] in the next twenty minutes.”
Upon asking an actor how they felt when their play was interrupted, this reporter was met with a summative response from an anonymous bystander, “Like f***ing s***!” Junior Izzy Giorgi responded, “Bad, not good, and a little bit disrespected.” In homeroom, she continued to say she felt, “Also bad, because we interrupted [the play] to do absolutely nothing, and it was just wasted time. If it was absolutely necessary to interrupt the performance I would have been a little more kind about it.”
Simultaneously, Classical’s administration hopped on the PA and ordered students to their homerooms. They said school was going to be closed for a while, and that they had some announcements to make. All across the building, students and teachers shared a seemingly unending abyss of vulnerability as they waited at their desks for some news.
“I was scared,” said sophomore Lisanell Caraballo, “I’m still scared.”
Other students in Caraballo’s homeroom shared her anxiety; some because they wanted more time out of school, others because this could ruin their plans for April break. But chief among their concerns was the threat of coronavirus.
“I’m glad that [Classical’s administration] is addressing the issue in a more direct way,” said sophomore Elliana Chambers, “I’m still a little bit annoyed they’re not completely addressing the issue head on, but I think they’re doing what is to be expected.”
Because of their purgatorial wait in advisory, high school students began to brew rumors about the coronavirus at Classical. One student interviewed said they had heard “from a friend” that a teacher had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Another student suggested there were two cases, both students. As this article is being posted, Providence Public Schools affirms there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the district.
After nearly an hour, Principal Scott Barr started addressing students on the PA. After giving news and updates for how the district is handling the virus, he spoke inspirationally, “Okay, listen, on a side note, we’re going to be okay everybody. Keep your head up. Stay enthusiastic.” He advised everyone to take care of themselves and their families, and wished them a good break.
It is times like these that demonstrate the strength of a school’s leadership. Classical’s demonstration last Friday was a disappointing one. Students should not be leaving their schools in tears, and teachers should not be left in the dark when guiding their students through a crisis. No one could be prepared for such an unusual emergency. But Classical has faced many unusual emergencies before, and will likely face many again. The people waiting for news and well wishes should never be an afterthought in the minds of their school.