SIXTH FORM: Enjoying our new found freedoms

After months of being cooped up in lockdown, followed by a severely restricted social life outside school lessons, students welcomed recent relaxations, which include the return of sixth form enrichment periods and clubs & societies. Sixth former ANTHONY LEE explains why it's vital for students to enjoy activities together beyond the classroom

I ACTUALLY went out with some friends during the Easter holidays and sat outside in a field, having ordered a Domino’s Pizza.

Although it was nothing fancy, I had almost forgotten what it was like to relax with mates outside school, without having to worry about leaving for the next lesson or the final bell of the school day going off.

The most recent lockdown threw us all out of balance, as we were confined to our homes once again, but with the new term started, things have truly started to get back to normal.

Our return to RGS in March meant the dark times of digital school were over and in April it got even better, with hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants allowed to serve people outdoors, as well as leisure facilities reopening.

Since hairdressers and barbers reopened in mid-April, like a herd of sheep, we all flocked to have our overgrown woolly hair shorn into something presentable.

I’m sure we’ve all noticed fresh cuts walking around the school: buzzcut, fade, a number two on the sides and back, trim? All of these were seen fresh right here in school.

For sixth form, Wednesday enrichment activities, including rounders and football, as well as clubs and societies (such as our astronomy society, pictured listening to a presentation by student Sophie Pointon on gravitational waves, and our board game enthusiasts, pictured getting together for a game of Monopoly) have resumed. This, for most students, is a much-needed diversion from the stresses of schoolwork, as well as rekindling other aspects of our lives.

During Easter, when the ‘rule of six’ as well as outdoor sports returned, I wasn’t the only one who jumped at the chance to finally meet up with friends and hang out in comfortable, informal clothes outside school - something we all needed.

Humans are social creatures, we need social interactions, that’s how we evolved, staying in isolation has not done us any favours, and although lockdown hasn’t completely lifted, it sure has improved.

Sixth form student Alistair Kettlewell met up with friends during the Easter holidays and over the weekends that followed. He describes being able to hang out with his mates outside school during the easing of lockdown restrictions as ‘a nice break’ and ‘refreshing’. He also commented that the reopened enrichment and societies are a blessing.

Don’t we all enjoy a break from school?

History enthusiast Henry Morley (pictured), and a member of the Thirsk White Horse swimming team, has finally been able to return to his favourite sport after months of inactivity.

The sixth form student says: “It’s great that the government has allowed leisure activities to resume. For many people, their hobbies and interests were taken from them in lockdown, now at last we’re all able to refresh ourselves.”

Although one worrying hangover from lockdown is that perhaps a number of us have become accustomed to not being allowed to see friends outside of school, and find it awkward to make plans.

Within school, the enrichment activities we enjoy in sixth form have always been a great chance to experience something new, providing opportunities to socialise, relax, and develop skills that the classroom sometimes can’t teach.

For the majority of students, the return of these activities and societies couldn’t have come soon enough: “I couldn’t wait for the enrichment to resume as it improves my mental health,” said sixth former Thomas Whitelegg (pictured).

“Enrichment offers amazing opportunities, and it’s a great chance to meet new people,” added Alex Gilhooley

While others said they found the return of enrichment activities life-enhancing and fulfilling, some students preferred having more time at home before things started to open up again.

One confessed: “I preferred how it was last term, I liked going home early.”

It is true that going home early allows us to focus on other things, catch up on school work or even extracurricular activities outside of school.

But this term is different, and regardless of what we prefer, I feel all students should make the most of the situation they are in now. You only live once.

School is supposed to enable students to experience and learn new things. Especially in the current climate, we should all be striving to grasp any opportunities we are offered and make the most of these difficult times.

It has been several weeks since lockdown restrictions have loosened, but we all must stay vigilant and follow Covid-19 restrictions, for the safety of everyone, and to prevent a fourth lockdown, urges Anthony. Here is a summary of the roadmap:

Hairdressers are open again, but people must book so before you try to walk into town and enter the nearest barber, make sure you call them up and get a reservation.

Not before 17th May : more social contact easing. Indoors the rule of six or two households will apply. Most businesses in all but the highest risk sector will reopen, including outdoor cinemas, children’s play areas. Hotels, hostels, B&B, indoor group sports/exercise will be allowed to continue.

Not before 21st June : Attempt to remove all limits on social contact. Everything reopens.

This is just a roadmap, there are chances to move off the trail and into another lockdown, so we should all be obediently following the advice and the science, so that the future will be a bit more familiar to what is was before 2020.

So continue to wash hands, social distance, masks on in indoor areas, together we can get through this!