Freshmen year on repeat

Sophomores experience second freshmen year after struggles online

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Emily MacIntyre

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Transitioning from middle school to high school is it’s own challenge, the Class of 2024 however, received additional obstacles due to being online their freshmen year.
Covid-19 brought every class different struggles to face throughout the 2020-2021 school year but the current sophomores did not get to experience a true beginning to their high school experience. They missed the hallways, lunch room, field trips, club meetings, and special activities like pep rallies – that normally make high school a unique school experience.
“The summer going into freshman year and throughout [the year]… I felt like I was supposed to be learning more,” sophomore Ania Toboy said.
For students and staff, being remote was a new and different experience that everyone had to figure out as the year went by.
“Remote learning was not a form I had ever experienced, so trying to adjust my thinking and habits was difficult,” sophomore Isabel Stepaniak said.
Not every student learns the same way, which is why some students need the in-person hands on learning to be successful.
“My biggest challenge was the technology. Having ADHD made it extremely difficult for me to concentrate on anything and get anything done,” sophomore Anthony Perez said. “All the stress from covid and what was going on in the world was really putting me down, along with my grades.”
With the unfortunate circumstances, almost everything was online, from freshman orientation and the first day of high school to spirit week and class projects.
“I did not feel like I was starting school at all, with it being online and not being able to go anywhere. It was hard to focus,” Toboy said.
Once school became hybrid, the Class of 2024 had to transition back to in-person school without ever having been in RHS walking the halls.
“It was awful,” Stepaniak said. “I was basically failing… I had never struggled so much with school and I lost all motivation so I wasn’t even excited.”
For other students, going back to in-person was a relief, the thought that things could possibly go back to normal.
“It was like 1000 pounds was relieved off my back. During online I struggled massively, and that transition back to in-person my grades became so much better,” Perez said.
Toboy had a unique perspective on the transition, focusing more on the social aspect rather than academics.
“I like to talk to someone in person…online everyone was muted and mostly had their cameras off,” Toboy said “It never did feel like school until we went back.”
Being online caused students to miss out on many opportunities that in-person learning provides, like school spirit events, lunchroom conversations, and interacting in groups.
“I think the pep rallies were a really big one. I always see these really cool videos, and not also not being able to go to the dances when that’s such a big important part of high school,” Perez said.
High school events help boost the students’ school spirit and encourage them to be more excited and motivated to go to school and learn with their peers. The extra curricular activities that make high school different from other levels of school – things like sports and clubs – could not function as they normally do, and some could not function at all. This made it difficult for the class of 2024 to really immerse themselves in becoming a Bear.
“I missed out on a lot,” Stepaniak said. “I didn’t get to go on big trips for rowing which I was super excited about, I also wanted to join science club and student council, it all seemed like so much fun.”
Although many obstacles were presented to students, sophomores finally have their chance at a traditional high school experience
“I’m taking every opportunity that is sent my way,” Toboy said. “Last year really showed me to take advantage of it all… you never know when it is going to disappear.”