By Alex Cho ‘23 News Reporter
Students have constantly been told that they took a big risk by coming to Mercersburg for the Fall term. Now that this momentous yet repetitive term is slowly coming to a close, a question is being raised: is it wise to take that risk once again and return for the winter?
In my opinion, the whole point of attending a boarding school is the importance of community. Travel has its dangers, but countless international and domestic students have taken risks just to come back to Mercersburg – students like me, who flew all the way from South Korea at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 when it hit the United States in August. Personally, I considered staying online this Fall, as at the time South Korea had far fewer COVID cases than the US, but now I know I would have regretted it if I had. This year I have met great new people and have improved myself as a person, and all that might have never happened if I had not come back to campus. Ian Kim ‘23, virtual this term, stated, “Really the only thing I feel like I’m missing out on is hanging out with people.” Kim also added that he wishes he could have met more new people, an extremely difficult task for a virtual student.
In addition to the importance of the community at boarding schools, Mercersburg’s Winter term is also filled with important traditions and events, most notably Irving-Marshall Week. This tradition brings out the greatest elements in our community; it puts the true Mercersburg spirit on full display and is one of the most enjoyable weeks of the entire year. Does “Virtual Irving-Marshall Week” sound fun to you? To me, it does not, which also makes it a significant reason I want to return to campus.
Furthermore, no matter how advanced a virtual classroom is, nothing comes near to the incredible learning that occurs inside an in-person classroom. Online classes are prone to constant distractions and meaningless discussions, whereas Mercersburg’s aforementioned physical learning environment can be of great benefit. I prefer in-person classes over virtual ones, and I know that the education I’m receiving now, compared to what I received last spring when we were virtual, is much better overall.
This community plays an enormous part in my life and I am confident that it does for other students as well. However, this community, and the school, only works when the people who make up the community are present in one place: on our campus. If it is dangerous for you to come back, or you believe that you will be better off at home vs. coming to campus, by all means, you should go virtual. But, if you are considering going virtual because you don’t want to wear a mask, or go through quarantine again, you should come back. The community is worth it, and a couple days of quarantine or wearing a mask is nothing when compared to the memories we can make together on campus.