The beginning of March usually heralds the fast-approaching Spring Break, a time when many PA students pack and prepare for upcoming trips. However, when upper schoolers loaded up their backpacks earlier this month, they were embarking on a different voyage: moving to their new lockers. 

Sidney Borland ‘22, Mae Monette ‘21 and Val Fish ‘21 sort through old materials as they prepare to move to their new lockers.

In previous years, PA students have been randomly assigned lockers in the hallways corresponding to their grade level. This year, students were allocated lockers all over the Upper School, regardless of their graduation year, in order to prevent unnecessary gatherings and the possible spread of COVID-19. 

However, as the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health continued to learn more about what constitutes a “close contact”, PA administration looked for ways to adjust while maintaining proper COVID protocol. And so, on March 3, the entire Upper School emptied their lockers and migrated to their brand new locker assignments in the traditional grade level hallways.

“We saw this as an opportunity to give something back and to make something a little more normal,” PA Upper School Director Mrs. Kelly Harrington explained. “Just from a student life aspect, that whole sense of community and class pride was missing.”

Many found it refreshing to return to some form of normalcy during the school day as students hadn’t been able to socialize like years past.

With smaller lunch tables and the COVID hallway setup, I felt like I hardly got to see anyone,” Samantha Mahoney ‘21 expressed. “Although my locker is now farther away from almost everything, it’s nice to see my friends more.”

Nina Von Dohlen ‘22 moves into her new locker in the Junior hallway last Wednesday.

One factor, however, that made the transition difficult for some was the elimination of backpack use during the school day.

“I like being with all my friends, but having the backpack system was very useful,” Sophia Gable ‘22 reflected. “We never had to go back to our lockers because our things were already with us.”

Before the Great Locker Migration–as some have called it–students had to bring all their books with them to each class to minimize time spent at lockers throughout the day. Returning to normal travel paths between classes has eliminated the need to carry backpacks from class to class, and at least gives students’ shoulders a break from the heavy load.

As spring is in sight, despite this wintery day, PA remains hopeful that more restrictions will be lifted. Though COVID-19 presents an ongoing health threat, these small normalcies provide a glimmer of hope for a normal and healthy future.