Underclassmen Face First Year of High School

With Covid protocols in place, students have been flooding the hallways of AT. For many students, this is their first time returning to high school in over a year. Likewise, about half of the students are entering the building and sitting down in a high school class for the first time. This is a special year because the freshmen are not the only new group of students in the building. 

Due to the pandemic, many sophomores were deprived of their first year of high school. Realistically, the sophomores do not understand what a true high school experience is like. Since they were never given a normal year in high school, sophomores missed out on a lot of opportunities and experiences during their freshman year.

Feeling the effects of covid, sophomore Anna Silezin reflects on what her freshman year could have looked like. Silezin believes that she “definitely [missed out on] hoco (homecoming), being able to join clubs, and trying electives.” Taking action on what she missed out on, Silezin has already taken it upon herself to get involved in new activities, such as track and theatre. 

Upon talking to numerous sophomores, many of them have mentioned being interested in getting more involved. Last year, it was difficult to be well-rounded because Zoom meetings were not an engaging way to experience clubs and various activities. Many sophomores are eager to expand their horizons. 

Sophomore Anna Silezin talks to Band Director Mark Corey. She is hoping to make up for last year’s lost ground this year.

Luckily, AT offers an endless amount of extracurriculars for students to get involved in. One sophomore in particular, Nehemiah Varghese, has a few new activities in mind. “I want to join clubs, jazz band, and all that kind of stuff. I mean I did clubs last year, but online, you just go into the Zoom and that’s it. Now, I am kind of finding time management to go to all of these clubs and still be a valuable factor in them,” said Varghese.

Based on Varghese’s statement, it seems as if sophomores are beginning to understand how valuable time management can be in high school. As students progress throughout their high school career,  time management will be a key aspect of keeping a balanced life between school and home. Since sophomores are beginning to understand high school fundamentals, where does that leave this year’s freshmen? 

When comparing freshmen and sophomores, one would notice that while sophomores missed out on their first year of high school, freshmen missed out on their last year at Indian Trail. While this affected some freshmen, others were not phased. Eager to start high school, freshman Gus Dravilas shared his journey of online learning at Indian Trail. “It was kind of normal for me because I was going in person for most of the year, but while I was online, I was not focused as much,” said Dravilas. 

Just like the sophomores, freshmen had some difficulties adjusting to covid and online learning. Unfortunately, the high school was not able to offer opportunities for the freshmen to explore AT due to covid protocols. This included events such as Pay It Forward, where current high school students spend a day teaching, directing, and bonding with incoming freshmen around Addison Trail.

Despite not having as many opportunities to prepare for high school, some freshmen have still been utilizing the guidance of the upperclassmen. Freshman Erin Parker has experienced this first hand. She believes the upperclassmen are doing a good job of being welcoming, however, she has a few pointers.

Sophomore Suzette Mancilla works on homework for Publications class. She is already involved in her first in-person year.

“I already have upperclassmen who help me. I guess they could be more supportive when we are trying to learn new things and join more clubs. Overall, they could be more motivational,” said Parker.

While not everyone is perfect, it is relieving to see the upperclassmen making an effort to help out new students. High school can be very overwhelming for the first time, so it is always beneficial to make friends with upperclassmen. Chances are, all upperclassmen have been in a similar situation as the freshman and sophomores. Upperclassmen have a general understanding of how difficult it is to adjust to a new environment.

As the new students begin to progress in the social environment at Addison Trail, there is also a classroom setting to adjust to. Online learning has subsided, which helps students stay more focused in class. With that being said, there are some adjustments being made in the classroom to help students.

As a lot of students have noticed, many teachers have slightly different classroom expectations and teaching plans. Steve Nelson’s Honors Chemistry class is no exception to that. After the pandemic, Nelson decided that it was important to maintain an online presence in his class. “We are definitely maintaining the online presence, google classroom, so that if anybody has to quarantine, they do have access to what’s going on in class. Hybrid was certainly not the preferred option, but if we need to, there are other things that we can do to keep people in the loop,” said Nelson.

Nelson also noted that this year’s sophomores surprisingly do not feel much different from previous students. While it is much more challenging for teachers to connect with students since everyone is wearing a mask, there has been improvement. Although it is difficult only seeing half of a student’s face, Nelson is relieved that he no longer has to stare at ceiling fans and foreheads while teaching. 

Overall, the Blazer Community has done an outstanding job overcoming the difficulties of the pandemic, especially freshmen and sophomores. It is remarkable that they were able to transition from being a high school novice to beginning to comprehend what a typical day in high school life looks like. As the year continues, it can be inferred that freshmen and sophomores will continue to be relentless and represent what it means to be a true Blazer. 

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