Starting High School in a Pandemic

Starting High School in a Pandemic

Reagan McAdams and Hailey Gifford

Freshman year has always been difficult for students, learning where all of your classes are, meeting hundreds of new people, and trying to get involved can be challenging. The class of 2024 is dealing with all of the same stuff, just in the middle of a pandemic. Both students and teachers have been trying to adjust to the pandemic as best they can, but for the freshmen, it is also about adjusting to high school in general.

“Like maybe you are online and you are doing a math problem and you don’t understand it, you have to wait for your teacher to email you back which is kind of hard.””

— Reese McCormick '24

First day of school outfits this year included sweatpants and masks, sweatpants for those students on B-day who were staying home and masks for A-day students who were going in person for the first time. The hybrid model has divided the school in half and has combined in-person learning with online learning.

“You can’t really interact, like the people that you would usually interact with are on a different day and the people that you have on your day you can’t really do much with them because of social distancing,” says Jenna Neifert ‘24.

Asynchronous learning days come with many challenges including harder communication with teachers, a lack of collaboration, and a decreased focus.

“I don’t have someone telling me what to do and I don’t have to focus that I normally would in school,” McCormick adds.

Writing essays, solving quadratic functions, and describing the steps of photosynthesis are all challenging parts of freshman year. But this year, students are having to do it on a computer without a teacher half the time. Not having the teacher there can be challenging.

“Not being able to ask questions as soon as you think of them,” Reese McCormick ‘24 describes as a challenge.  “Like maybe you are online and you are doing a math problem and you don’t understand it, you have to wait for your teacher to email you back which is kind of hard.”

Talking to someone while wearing a mask is extremely difficult, it is hard to hear and you can’t see facial expressions. Making friends while wearing masks is even harder, but being cut off from half of your grade and probably some of your friends makes it necessary to meet new people. 

“Building relationships is always a struggle especially when you have kids behind screens and masks and farther away from them.” says freshman English teacher Ms. Uhnavy.

Compared to other years, freshmen this year have been challenged with smaller class sizes and online learning. More responsibility and freedom has led to some challenges in the classroom.

According to Ms. Uhnavy, “The biggest impact of smaller classes is there is more focus, but as much work does not get done at home. As of now the focus seems to be lagging.”

There have been many changes around the school at EVHS. Where there are smaller classes, desks further apart, and less group work, everyone has had to adjust.

“The desks are normally in groups and now they are spread out. I have students on google meets talking to each other from across the room,” explains Ms. Uhnavy.

Moving forward Jenna Neifert ’24 is hoping that more opportunities will be presented, “I was excited about new opportunities with sports, clubs, and activities.”

Everyone is trying to make the best of the situation, both teachers and students are trying to move forward despite all of the obstacles.

COVID-19 provides a big obstacle, but Ms. Uhnavy is still planning on having a great year. “Normally table groups collaborate and have the ability to work together in less big groups,” states Ms. Uhanvy, so she has had to, ” Find ways to adapt learning from other teachers to quite good class sizes.”

The pandemic has been a major event for lots of us but starting high school was a major event for the class of 2024. They have been separated from lots of their friends, they have had to learn how to handle a harder workload while online, and they have had to navigate a new building with masks on. Overall, this year will be a big challenge for the freshman but they are ready to take on this challenge and are staying positive.