Basketball Court, Classroom, or Homeroom?

Winter sports are in full swing, and compromises are being made across the board to account for home bases in athletic centers.

Brennan Offshack, Contributor

COVID-19 has forced the Malvern Prep community to make changes in various ways. As the school year progresses, some of these changes have become more prominent, such as the placement of home bases in the O’Neill Center and Alumni Hall. 

Home bases serve as a social distancing friendly homeroom alternative, and they have evolved into focal points for each grade. With this new opportunity and the need for students to be spaced out comes a few caveats for Winter sports. The basketball team is currently practicing and playing at Villa, while the wrestling team practices at a nearby facility in Malvern. 

Nick Feldman, a junior wrestler, offered some perspective about the facility they are using in place of Alumni Hall. 

“It’s right down the street from Malvern, which has made things pretty easy… We’re all glad to be able to wrestle right now. Although this room isn’t quite like Malvern’s, it certainly works for us. A lot of schools have cancelled their seasons, so we’re really fortunate for this opportunity, whether it’s on campus or off,” Feldman said. 

Villa Maria Academy has been working closely with Malvern to allow for their respective basketball teams to use the gym there. Malvern’s team has been able to practice there four to five days a week, which has been instrumental in a successful season for them. 

“It’s a minor inconvenience having to commute to Villa after school every day,”said Chase Reardon, a junior on Malvern’s team. “In the end, O’Neill is home, but we’re glad to have a space to work with.” 

Thanks to the efforts of the maintenance team at Malvern, the team was able to host senior night at their home gym. 

“We’re really thankful for what they did. The game was electric, even though there were only about 30 people in attendance I believe,” Reardon said. “It brought some normalcy to such an unusual season.” 

Home bases in the athletic facilities clearly aren’t for nothing. The levels of safety that they bring have been extremely important in keeping students safe and maintaining in person learning. 

The middle school is hosting its home bases in Alumni Hall, where the wrestling team would be practicing. “It’s allowing us to be at school, and for that purpose, it’s working out pretty well,” said 8th grade educator, Mr. Rob Buscaglia. 

Not only have home bases served as a homeroom location, but they have also been used for virtual classes and free periods. Many classrooms can only accommodate twelve to fifteen students at most while maintaining social distancing, so home bases have been perfect for overflow. On top of that, a level of bonding has been taking place with so many students from the same grade in one location. 

Mrs. Beverly Gordon, the Dean of Faculty, spends a lot of time in O’Neill helping to keep the sophomore class on track.

 “It seems unnatural to try to keep kids apart. However, keeping school open is our number one priority. We all want to be here,” Gordon said. “It has become a type of ‘home’ for them. I’m sure there are times that kids like it there, but there are also times they’re tired of being told to put their masks on… This has become a comfort zone for students, especially in a time when everything is different and you need to be so flexible.”

Buscaglia also shared his observations of the connections taking place between students.

 “If you’re not in class with your friends, you finally get to see them. There is a level of unitas taking place…in a rigid schedule like this one, it’s great to see them connect with a friend or do something unrelated to class,” he stated. 

The entire community has been working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining a sense of normalcy, whether it’s with sports or classes. So far, cases have been limited while sports teams and classes alike have been making significant progress in such an unprecedented year. Although Malvern looks much different than it has in the past, students and teachers are grateful for the opportunities that the school has to offer.