An unconventional school year: junior experiences

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In this unprecedented year, most students have been experiencing their education remotely. With junior year being arguably one of the most important years of a student’s high school career, remote learning has given many juniors a completely different learning experience. The Classic interviewed several juniors about their take on virtual learning.

In comparison to the remote learning of last year’s spring semester, many students agreed that this semester feels more structured. Students and teachers now follow a set bell schedule with synchronous meetings that allow communication in real time. Nadia Santo said, “[Having] a more enforced structure this time around has helped me stay on track; I also enjoy seeing my teachers’ faces and the schedule helps establish a sense of normalcy. I think live lessons definitely helps my learning greatly and helps me stay focused.” 

However, several juniors also expressed concerns about how the pandemic will impact upcoming standardized testing such as the SAT, which plays a crucial role in the college application process. Michelle Ho shared her worries about getting sick during upcoming standardized tests. “Most of the locations where these tests are taken are usually foreign to us and no one knows for sure if they are clean. Additionally, taking the test with other people in the same room can be very risky for everyone involved,” she explained. Avary Kwai added, “I am worried about… having to wear a mask during the test, because I am afraid I won’t be able to feel comfortable and do my best when taking the long test.” 

Additionally, many students are concerned about their ability to engage fully with their extracurriculars due to the obstacles imposed by remote learning.

This year’s SING will be a student showcase as opposed to the usual competition between live performances, posing a challenge to many juniors who are first-time S!NG directors. Heather Bonilla explained that as of right now, balancing remote learning and being a S!NG director “has not been too stressful because it is still very early in SING season. However, at times it can be [stressful].”  

Lisa Felson, one of this year’s overall directors, agreed and said, “It’s been 2 straight months of near constant work between my classes, their assignments, planning for S!NG and Drama Club.” She added, “I think that the lack of differentiation between a school and home setting has greatly affected me. I find that I’m unable to fully separate myself from my schoolwork.”

With all the added pressures and changes occurring during this stressful school year, many students are hopeful that guidance counselors and teachers can provide ample support. Nadia said that she hopes that teachers offer more leniency on due dates, and that “if students miss the deadline by a very small margin then teachers would [hopefully] be understanding.” Michelle mentioned that another way the school could alleviate stress is by “adding more check-ins or letting students interact with others rather than just talking to us all the time.”

Many juniors also expressed that they understand the complicated nature of the situation and recognized teachers’ efforts. “I can’t really think of anything more the school can do, since I think they’re doing a fantastic job,” said Edwin Cheng. “Personally, I haven’t come across any trouble yet and because it’s remote, it’s easy to reach out to teachers and staff alike.”

“I truly appreciate the effort our school staff [members] have made to maintain quality education at home as well as ensuring our well-being,” Fiona Zheng concluded.

Despite the challenges of junior year, many students are remaining motivated and starting to find a new sense of normalcy. 

Art by Veronica Kuzma, Art Editor