More Than a Gym – By: Maddie O’Mara (12)

Grandville is a fortunate community. The City of Grandville boasts an esteemed educational system, hundreds of mouth watering eateries, cultural diversity, a progressive society, and a tight knit community. Though Grandville is a wealthy city, it’s citizens continue to aid and develop regions that may be less fortunate than others, and they are constantly persevering and pushing the limits in their district. But every successful populace begins with it’s youth, teaching them to break boundaries, work together, and persevere through the difficulties they will inevitably face throughout life. At the focus of all of these accomplishments, and all these lessons, is the epicenter of developing affluent, and community minded thinkers. This is Grandville High School.

Grandville High School is built on the foundations of grit, integrity, and good memories. Every inch of every hallway holds a special moment for every student to ever walk the corridors of the school. For many, some of these special places are the cafeteria, the football stadium, or even a specific classroom. But every GHS alumni can agree that there is one place that stands out above the rest when regarding these treasured memories, and that place is the Grandville High School gym.

Not only is there one outstanding gym at Grandville High School, but the school is lucky enough to have two of these amazing facilities in the building. They represent a place for the school to gather, come together, and make memories that will last a lifetime. For GHS Varsity Dance Team alumni, and now collegiate level dancer Abby Hunt, one of these fond memories was homecoming court. She says that “being with my best friends, and walking across that gym knowing how loved I am is something I’ll always remember.” Another student, current senior at GHS and committed athlete Bella Wylie, reflects on the homecoming pep assembly. She says that “there is just nothing like the volume of excitement and fun that goes on during the homecoming pep assembly.” School dances and homecoming festivities are just two, among many events that take place in these gyms. Basketball games, dance team performances, volleyball, and so much more happen at these facilities, making them especially important to so many athletes here. However, something is different this year. Something has caused Grandville, and all other schools, to completely amend their dynamic of unity and community. There is a dark cloud that looms over us right now, taking away from some of the most anticipated events of the year, and prohibiting schools from making these once in a lifetime memories.

COVID-19 is an exhausted topic. It’s something that we have begun to normalize in our lives. And in a world where masks litter the sidewalks, hand sanitizer is in peak demand, and getting our temperatures taken is a part of our daily routines, optimism is hardly achievable. “Knowing that we won’t get the same experiences as our peers is really sad” says Bella Wylie. Seniors across the globe are feeling this same disappointment, as they continue to receive more information that verifies the fact that their senior year will not meet their expectations. Varsity basketball team captain Lauren Goodyear recognizes the unjust nature of 2020 as she states that “seniors are supposed to be mourning their ‘lasts,’ but instead, we don’t even get to have our ‘lasts’ because of COVID-19.” In contrast, Student Council Advisor Laura VanHekken attempts to look at the bright side of things for the seniors affected by the pandemic as she explains that “It’s been a bummer knowing that homecoming isn’t a possibility for us right now, but we are able to focus our minds on other things and be creative in coming up with new events for our school to participate in.” Grandville High School is facing the same difficulties as all other schools during these trying times, but they are putting their best foot forward in an attempt to make this year as memorable as possible.

Gathering as a school community is paramount for deciding the climate of a school year. For Grandville High School, the homecoming pep assembly each year is the first time the school becomes completely unified. It’s the preface to every school year, as it is the first time all grades and staff gather to celebrate, amp up for the homecoming football game, and overall, have a fun time together and let loose. Following the pep assembly comes games, dances, and so much more.  Thankfully, their gyms give them the space to do these amazing things that keep the school year exciting and positive. Though the state of our world right now may not allow for these things, it is important that we do not give up. We must continue refusing to normalize and accept the controversy and turmoil of COVID-19, and we must continue doing everything in our power to eliminate it’s spread so that we can soon get back to our communities. Students can get involved by continuing to follow the orders and regulations put in place by their respective schools, and by being mindful of their well-being. Soon enough, by continuing to work together, communities will gather, and schools will be unified once again.

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