Kenza Bey, Lucy Caroff (Freshmen)
For the last two years, everyone has experienced changes with the pandemic. We have had to convert to online, hybrid, and finally back to in person schooling. Many people could deal with these changes without issue, but for others, they quickly became detrimental.
This year’s freshmen are going to be the first class to have a completely in-person four years of high school since the class of 2019. We are also the first freshman class to start high school in person without having a full 8th grade education. After the 2020-2021 school year of loose deadlines and little instruction, most people expected for this year to be similar. We were wrong.
“I was thinking I could just slack off a bit,” Cai Young remarks, going on to explain how misled she was in that hope. Javon Laprade refers to this wake up call as “educational whiplash.” Aja Banks says that the sudden workload “lowered [her] motivation.” She went on to elaborate about how all of it has been an obstacle in her mental health, which is a notion many of us can agree with. The words are different, but the idea remains: We weren’t prepared.
During our virtual year, Obama’s 8th grade team made the decision to not penalize us for late work, and although it definitely helped the students at the time, we are now experiencing the consequences of this leniency. One of the things that you hear most in a freshman classroom is the importance of meeting deadlines. One of the reasons why that lesson in particular hasn’t stuck is likely because of how easygoing our teachers were last year. Lots of our peers are used to being able to cram an entire quarter worth of work into one week without consequence. That isn’t working as well now.
There have been many obstacles along this first half of our freshman year like the “huge workload,” but some of us also agree that one of the most challenging things about this year has been the unrealistic expectations that we had for ourselves going in. This followed by the fact that we do not and cannot meet them. Last year was easy, this year isn’t.
When asked, “What has been your biggest obstacle this year,” Yuriel Holeman gave a simple and concise response, “myself.” We haven’t allowed ourselves a break to care for our mental health, and because of that, this entire ordeal has taken a big toll on us. But it isn’t all bad. This year has also given us a lot of hope. It was exciting to get back into things. Many of us can agree it was nice to be in the building, reconnect with friends, or even just have real social interactions. Everyone came into this year with something in mind. Some, like Aja sought freedom, some, like Yuriel looked for responsibility, and others, like Hirai Shuda and Javon just wanted to participate in clubs or teams. Some were disappointed by reality and some were pleasantly surprised.
Transitioning to high school has always been a big deal, but for this year’s freshman class it was bigger than ever. It meant adjusting to new norms, becoming more involved with our education, and learning to give up bad habits. We mark the first true high school class since 2019, but that comes with a host of problems. How do we relearn to be students? How can we adjust to the pressure? How do we adjust to the expectations? There is no sure answer to any of these questions. All we can do is keep trying, trust that it’ll get easier, and remember that we are not alone. Going back to school was overwhelming for everyone, but the least we can do is look ahead, move forward, and try our best.