What Holds for Incoming Seniors?

By: Emily Chamale and Tamara Salmeron

Students going back into the school building during the pandemic, January 2020. PHOTO BY IAN HAUPT

 

Class of 2022 is getting ready to go back to in-person-school for their senior year and not all students feel properly prepared after a year and a half of online school.

2020 began like any other year, everybody was excited for the kick off of a new decade, but soon everything changed. Everybody heard rumors about a strange virus that was spreading in China, but no one anticipated what was about to happen. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, after China was not able to contain the virus, the world was obligated to shut down, and with it schools.

With COVID-19 cases increasing in the U.S., Green Dot Schools had to see themselves forced to temporarily close their schools on March 13th. The shutdown was intended to last only a month, taking advantage of the upcoming spring break, but little did we know that this was going to last the rest of the current semester and the 2020-2021 school year.

The transition to online classes was not easy for students or teachers, but when everybody thought the rest of the 2019-2020 school year was going to be canceled, teachers and school districts managed a way to finish the current semester remotely. Even though the semester was not able to be finished properly, teachers and staff spent the 2020 summer training to be prepared to have online classes for the rest of the pandemic, which was thought to last only a couple of months longer, but ended up extending for the whole 2020-2021 school year.

Going from a completely in person school system to online classes was not easy for teachers nor students. Students had different experiences while adapting to online learning, when some of them did not mind being taught from the comfort of their home, some other students did not have the same experience.

Naomi Morales, a senior at APB shared that she had trouble communicating with her teachers and other students, resulting in making it harder for her to join clubs or sports teams. Naomi recognizes that being a senior, she wanted her last high school year to be memorable, but not this way.

School does not only provide students with education, but with a sense of a routine, one-on-one support, and socializing experiences. Even though some students benefited from this new teaching method, with the undefined shutdown of schools a great amount of students were not only deprived of these experiences having a major impact on their mental health, but forced them to accommodate themselves to a learning system that most of the time was not a great fit for their individual needs.

Graph of statistics showing students’ biggest challenges during the pandemic. OWNED BY STRADA

 

Many students have experienced a stunting in their mental health this past year, and the rates of depression and anxiety increased in teenagers. During 2020, 75% of students experienced a sense of “overwhelming anxiety” at some time, and 30% reported overwhelming anxiety. These alarmingly high results are commonly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which decreased teenage interactions and gave them a sense of not knowing what was going to happen with their future since the pandemic did not seem to stop any time soon.

Due to the pandemic, current Juniors at APB have not participated in after-school activities. Juniors have found distance learning to be more difficult and stressful. In some circumstances, their academic performance has deteriorated.

Although APB Junior Genesis Alas’s academic performance has not been impacted, she admits that distance learning has been tough and frustrating. Genesis is motivated when she sees other students working, but she lacks that motivation now. “Being at home during distance learning discourages me a lot since it’s not the same feeling as being at school,” she says.

Seniors at APB, on the other hand, have the same feelings as Juniors. Since communication with teachers and students is not the same in person, it has been a constant challenge. They were not only concerned about school, but also had a lot going on in their life, making it more difficult to maintain a balance between personal matters and school.

Naomi Morales adds that this year was particularly tough since her enthusiasm to attend school was because she felt free, and didn’t lack the ambition to study every day. She was also driven by the idea of being near the people she cared about, but this was taken away because of the pandemic.

Morales also advises rising seniors, that “There will always be a symbol of light at the end of the tunnel for you, and everything is possible with hard work and dedication. Take a chance to find your happiness and don’t be afraid of success. Do what you think is best for you. Do not explain yourself to anyone because the only ones who feel that you have to explain is yourself. At the end of the road, you only have the unconditional support of God and your family.”

APB Junior Sarah A. says she doesn’t mind doing the year online because she understands that it is safer for her and others. Genesis A. on the other hand, prefers to spend her Senior year in person since she would regret all of the things she wishes she could have done.

We don’t know what the future holds for incoming seniors, but we can conclude that distance learning has been a struggle for many students. For these students, one year of distance learning is enough.

 

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