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MHS senior on the first day of school: ‘It depends on your perspective’

MORGANTOWN — Yes, that really is a school bus in front of you at the traffic light.

Aug. 24 is the first day of school across Monongalia County, and Liam O’Connor said he’s going into his senior year at Morgantown High with a positive attitude while the pandemic is again surging.

“Yeah, even with all that, I’m excited,” the Mohigan said. “Ready to see what happens.”

In terms of pandemic protocol and pandemic dynamics, what will happen at the start of senior year … will be pretty similar to the doings of the end of his junior year.

He and his classmates, plus every other student in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, will again wear masks.

Once again, there will uncertainty over the coronavirus — this time, its Delta variant — which is causing Mon and more and more counties to inch closer to red on the county alert map.

Meanwhile, county health officer Dr. Lee B. Smith is scheduled to discuss the COVID landscape at Tuesday’s meeting of the county board of education.

Now, teachers and administrators are getting past the talking for the task in front of them.

The watchword for the 2021-22 academic year as Eddie Campbell Jr. and Donna Talerico have repeatedly said, is “normal.”

Campbell and Talerico are the district’s superintendent and deputy superintendent, respectively.

“That’s the experience we want for all our kids,” Talerico said.

It wasn’t normal March 13, 2020 — Friday the 13th, in fact — when Gov. Jim Justice ordered all schools shuttered when it became clear West Virginia wasn’t going to escape the coronavirus.

Same at the start of 2021, when the first of hundreds of students, and whole sports teams, went on two-week quarantines, after their classmates, teachers and others working in their buildings tested positive.

Campbell is pragmatic and philosophical when he thinks of his district, should COVID conditions necessitate another round of remote learning.

If that’s what has to happen, well, that’s what has to happen, he said.

“It’s amazing what you can do — when you have to do it.”

O’Connor, he said, knows what he has to do.

He’ll study hard and make good grades while catching all the mileposts of his future.

It won’t be long after graduation when he reports for basic training, for a stint in the U.S. Army Reserve, to earn money for college.

He may study to be a physical therapist, he said.

“Definitely something in the medical field.”

So, what will he think when he looks back?

Like the district superintendent, the newly minted senior is also starting to become pragmatic and philosophical.

“It depends on your perspective,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve been cheated a little, but I’ve also gotten to spend a lot of time with my friends. Things were just different.”

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