The freshman year that flew away: Class of 2024’s thoughts on the pandemic altered school year and hopes for the future

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Having their eighth grade year abruptly cut short, members of the Class of 2024 began their high school experience confined by the solitary rectangular frames of Zoom boxes. These Harrisites missed out on many of the most memorable freshman experiences, events, and traditions. As schools prepare to fully reopen for the upcoming school year, the Class of 2024 shared thoughts  for the fall as they move to rebound from their atypical freshman experience.

Rising Sophomores Vivian Chen and Olivia Wong both said that they are excited and anticipating the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. 

Rising Sophomore Antonia Lestariadi talked about some of the stresses involved., “I’m so scared of seeing people,” she said. ”I’m looking forward to the classes because I miss seeing people in person and having fun because my mental health was affected a lot by the COVID pandemic. I’m looking forward to seeing people because it’s just weird—two years of not seeing people. I feel like I’m going to mess things up.”

The rising Sophomores discussed first impressions of THHS that they gathered during their remote Freshman year. Vivian said, “Townsend is a place where you would find people that have similar interests as you…I think that I fit in well with the school community. I find that this community is really uplifting and understanding.” 

Antonia spoke about how her expectations contrasted with reality. She said, “I’ve had impressions that everyone focuses on school, which is true, but at the same time, they’re very involved with extracurriculars and having a social life because I’ve had the perception in 8th grade that people in Townsend are just nerds, but that’s the total opposite when you get to know people…I feel out of place, but at the same time, kind of used to it, because I feel as if I understand that you can’t be perfect in a very competitive school. You can’t be the best because obviously there are going to be people who are better than you. Just try to do your best.”

There are some concerns about what one will be able to do when the academic year begins. Rising Sophomore SnehaShree Paul said she will most likely be unable to spend time with her family members once the school year begins: “Although at times it was quite frustrating to be around the same people all the time, it allowed me to realize just how much my family is willing to do for me. From quieting down during school hours to giving me food even though I didn’t ask for it, they’ve helped me throughout the year and I’m immensely grateful for that.”

Rising Sophomore Kaia Lain discussed concerns about club commitments. Kaia said, “This year during blended learning, I was a member of over 8 clubs and programs at Townsend and I think that once we begin in-person learning I Will not have the time to continue being a member of them all. I think being in-person will be a lot more draining and I will have less free time.”

Although this remote academic year primarily consisted of void-like Zoom screens, many rising Sophomores in the Class of 2024 have worked to make healthy connections by reaching out to students and faculty, formed productive work habits, and gotten involved with enjoyable extracurricular activities. 

“It seems like most of the students are pretty friendly and helpful, and the work here is pretty difficult,” Olivia said. “I’m not very well acclimated to the school community at all—but it seems like it’s a pretty friendly environment where people try to push each other to do better and succeed.”

Photo by Karen Lin