What Peddie students are saying about being back to school in a COVID-19 world
This fall, for the first time in 18 months, Peddie's entire student population resumed in-person learning. High vaccination rates among community members allowed the school to feel safe within the state’s health and safety mandates. But as the COVID-19 Delta variant continued to spread across the country, mask mandates and social distancing requirements remained in place. Still, after more than a year of hybrid learning, it was the most “normal” campus felt in a while.
The Peddie Chronicle spoke to a dozen students about returning to campus, or in some cases coming to campus for the first time, after months of remote and hybrid learning. Here are their thoughts on the first entirely in-person semester in a year and a half.
Grace Edelstein ’23
HOMETOWN: YARDLEY, PA.
On being at Peddie: “While I spent my fall and spring terms on campus last year, I definitely feel the positive energy shift now that our entire community is back together. Our reorientation week was the perfect start to my junior year, which, fingers crossed, will be my first full school year at Peddie.
“Whether it’s having a full bus headed over to the boathouse for crew practice, chatting in lines at the dining hall, sharing a table with someone in class, bonding over dorm activities, enjoying the hustle of busy hallway transitions between classes or gathering for a full-school ‘Ala Viva,’ these small, but impactful, moments with the community are what I am most looking forward to this year.”
The community is everything I wanted.”
Yanelly Caro-DeLeon ’25
HOMETOWN: TRENTON, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “Coming from a school with a tight and warm community, I was honestly scared. I wasn't sure who I was gonna meet, who would be my roommate, how my teachers would be. But all those worries went away after coming here. I have many friends, I love my teachers and my classes, I have fun with sports and the community is everything I wanted.
“I'm looking forward to my Chinese language class and taking part in the Freshman Musical with friends.”
Jackson Boone ’24
HOMETOWN: LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “I feel happy that I am attending school in person without having to leave every other week, and I find it helpful to have a scheduled day.”
I am looking forward to our community events where the whole school can come together.”
Leena Mirchandani ’25
HOMETOWN: WALL, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “I first visited Peddie as a seventh-grader and felt it was meant to be. From the moment I stepped on campus, I dreamt of
being a Peddie student: walking on the beautiful campus surrounded by the historic, red-brick buildings, hearing the stories of teachers, classmates and peers resound through chapel, and cheering ‘Ala Viva.’
“Now, as a new student, it still feels surreal to call Peddie my school. I am looking forward to our community events where the whole school can come together. Performing in the Freshman Musical, pursuing my passion for playing the cello and playing tennis are some of the activities that I am very excited about!”
Ryan Rong ’24
HOMETOWN: BEIJING, CHINA
On being at Peddie: “Campus life will definitely be a lot different from last year. We will have more Falcons, more events and more fun [Rong was learning remotely for his first two semesters last year.]. We already had a wonderful week of orientation that ended splendidly with the Blue & Gold Games, which makes me thrilled to start a new year at Peddie.”
Brooke Gomez ’24
HOMETOWN: BRONX, N.Y.
On being at Peddie: “Being back at school is really exciting. Having everyone on the Peddie campus isn't something that I got to experience last year, and it's so nice to finally see my upperclassmen friends in the hallways instead of on Zoom or at practice. I'm looking forward to being able to participate in Peddie traditions, such as Blair Day, and getting to know more of the upperclassmen and the freshmen.”
Luke Treese ’23
HOMETOWN: HIGHTSTOWN, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “I am super excited to be back. Even though I was in person as much as possible last year, everything felt distant. Already though, I feel a greater sense of community.
“We missed our fall season last year, so I am excited about cross country meets and Blair Day. And I am especially looking forward to the baseball season in the spring. I am a little bit nervous but excited about the academic side. I am taking some hard courses and am nervous about managing all that time, but it makes it definitely feel like I am back at school.”
Kate Guittari ’22
HOMETOWN: GLEN RIDGE, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “In only a few weeks, I can see that the liveliness and cohesiveness on campus are much restored from past years. I am grateful for being able to reconnect with friends and teachers in person, especially since this will be my final year at Peddie. I hadn’t truly realized how much I missed in-person classroom discussions, field hockey games, dorm programming and arts performances that aren’t viewed from my computer screen. With this in mind, my goal for this year is not to take a single moment for granted.”
Anushka Poddar ’24
HOMETOWN: PRINCETON, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “It’s exciting to be back at school! I finally get to experience normal Peddie activities and traditions that we couldn’t do last year, and I’m really enjoying the little things like eating dinner with my friends and my [crew] team.
“For academics, it’s definitely more tiring being at school full time, but I’d much rather be here and with my friends than alone in my room at home, and I’m really enjoying the new classes I’ve chosen. In-person visual arts was one of my favorite classes last year, and I can’t wait to get back to it, as well as having another great crew season!”
I'd much rather be here and with my friends than alone in my room at home.”
Caleb Solidum ’23
HOMETOWN: LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J.
On being at Peddie: “Coming back to school this year felt different: a mixture of good and weird. I went to school in person all of last year. The first week of pre-season [cross country] and orientation had more energy than the whole of last year combined. It was refreshing to see all of us unmasked: going down the water slides, walking to our mock classes and practicing with the team.
“The students that were away all year were greatly missed, and they brought back the spirit that we missed last year. Because of COVID, I felt that Peddie's life and spirit were put on hold. Overall, this year can be considered a wild card that I'm excited to play.”
Zoe Chao ’23
HOMETOWN: TUSTIN, CALIF.
On being at Peddie: “It feels surreal to be in an environment surrounded by kids my age again [Chao was remote all of last year.]. After almost two years, the moment I stepped on campus felt like a dream — especially seeing the white chapel against the backdrop of the blue sky spotted with white clouds. I definitely felt my stomach turn over a few times, but I was still filled with this buzzing excitement to see my friends, teachers and finally be at Peddie.
“This may sound a bit cliche, but I felt a sense of belonging. As if the entire Peddie community was saying, ‘Welcome back!’ I have built a home here, and I am excited to be back and finally live in it.”
The moment I stepped on campus felt like a dream.”
Tanat Chavapokin ’22
HOMETOWN: BANGKOK, THAILAND
On being at Peddie: “It feels weird to see so many people on campus, in classrooms and in the dining hall. I love how students get to sit around a round table for English and history classes.
“I look forward to acting in my second play at Peddie and working with such passionate peers. I look forward to doing in-person labs for chemistry and physics and working at the whiteboard for math. It feels great to be back!”