Ella Schaffer, Staff Writer
The first fully in-person school year in several years, the 2021-2022 school year, has been quite unexpected. Within the 176 days of school this year, CPS students experienced a strike, the lifting of the mask mandate, changes to the admissions process for selective enrollment high schools, and more. Additionally, Payton students witnessed Dr. Shabazz, formerly the interim principal, accept a four-year principal contract. While acknowledging the unpredicted events of this school year students and teachers across Payton still have several predictions for what the next school year will bear.
To some students the lift of the mask mandate came unexpectedly. During the hybrid semester in the latter half of the 2020-21 school year and during the first half of the in-person 2021-22 school year, CPS required all staff and students to wear a mask. The first day in March that the mask mandate was lifted, nearly 40% of Payton students decided not to wear a mask. Since then, the number has increased as students and faculty feel more and more comfortable with COVID rates. Mercedes Rodriguez ‘23, believes that during the next school year more people will come to school without masks.
Other predictions specific to Payton include fixing the bathrooms. Currently, the bathrooms in the east building, particularly the girls’ bathrooms, have been experiencing flooding and plumbing issues. Several stalls have been closed for the majority of the school year and the conditions of the bathrooms have been brought up with administration. Students recall seeing plumbing professionals in the school building near the bathrooms, so they are hopeful that by August 22nd they will functioning properly.
This year, students have noticed increased initiatives from faculty in increasing school spirit as seen through assemblies, school dances, and other events such as decision day and Sweetness Day. Ms. Bridgewaters predicts “more school spirit” next year. She mentioned that she believes that Dr. Shabazz will try to “get the student population to be excited about being students” and “enjoy being a part of the school community.” To a certain degree it has been confirmed that more school wide events will be incorporated into the school year. The lack of school spirit was felt by students in past years. Building school spirit during the 2019/2020 school year and more so the 2020/2021 school year was difficult due to the fact that both years school was online (for at least a part of the year if not most). Ms. Bridgewaters predicts the stronger push for school spirit will cultivate a more positive classroom culture.
This is the first time that Payton is accepting transfer students. Ms. Bridgewaters and Annie Wu ’23 speculate that by allowing transfer students to come to Payton, the school will be forced to look at how Payton students are selected. Transfer students are looked at holistically unlike students that get in traditionally. Transfer students are asked to submit essays, transcripts, and letters of recommendation whereas traditionally accepted students are only assessed on more limited information.
On the topic of academics, students and teachers felt that this year was tiring and content-heavy due to the fact that certain classes reteach content to get back on track. The most hopeful prediction for the next year is a less stressful school year!