In the fall of 2020, Mount Ararat High School opened a brand-new campus on Eagles Way. In the past year, not only have we gotten a new school, but we have also gotten a new principal, new teachers, new school board members and, for the first time in almost two years, the entire student body has been back together in school five days a week.

As a current senior at Mount Ararat, I have had the opportunity to learn in both the old and the new school buildings, and to learn under both our past and our new principals. I believe the changes we are experiencing are certainly enhancing our learning environment.

Although I have experienced a multitude of changes during my time at Mount Ararat, the amazing teachers we have are an unwavering force. Whenever I face difficulties in my personal or academic life, I know that the teachers at Mount Ararat will be willing to help me.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the school system in unimaginable ways, and teachers have gotten hit especially hard. My mother and grandmother work in elementary schools, so I have a firsthand perspective on the stress that the faculty in schools face.

Last year, during the height of the pandemic, I found myself struggling to find the motivation to do my work and I had a more difficult time learning than usual as we faced less in-school instruction time. I can certainly thank my adviser for ensuring I didn’t fall behind. She consistently checked in on me and made sure I was doing alright in school and always encouraged me whenever I stepped into her classroom. The incredible faculty at Mount Ararat truly ensures that the learning environment is welcoming and prioritizes the well-being of the student body.

Anytime I come to a teacher with a grievance or struggle, they are validating and kind. When I think of a teacher who truly impacted my experience balancing the pandemic, schoolwork and extracurriculars, my mind immediately goes to my English teacher. He taught Advanced Placement Language and Composition last year, a difficult class that demands a lot of its students, but my teacher made our class enjoyable. In addition to learning about standard grammar conventions and how to format an MLA essay, all the students in my class learned about themselves. He often allowed us to talk about current events and how we felt about the world around us — he offered a safe place for his students to examine their opinions and beliefs. When the world was so uncertain, I was able to find a constant in that class. It was consistently interesting, challenging and engaging.

Throughout the pandemic, the Mount Ararat faculty has remained compassionate, encouraging and kind despite the trials and tribulations they have faced. As Mount Ararat continues to change and grow, the teachers we have at our school remain remarkable.

Lucy Nelson is a Harpswell native and a senior at Mount Ararat High School. She dances at Maine State Ballet and is involved in Student Senate and the National Honor Society at Mount Ararat.