“Back To The Hawk’s Nest”: freshmen reflect on their first few months of in person high school

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Having missed most of their middle school journey to virtual learning, this year’s 9th grade students of Townsend Harris High School have experienced an unconventional entrance to high school. As the 2021-2022 academic year has led to the transition from remote learning to in-person instruction, students are reflective on their experiences thus far. The Classic interviewed several Freshmen in THHS about their opinions and concerns regarding how the transition from remote learning to in-person learning has gone for them. 

Freshman Nadia Afifa said, “My least favorite aspect in relation to returning to school is waking up really early because I happen to live far from THHS. [I also dislike] walking up the stairs to and from class while wearing a mask. My most favorite part is being able to engage with my classmates, teachers, and club members. I do however miss waking up three minutes before class started when we were virtual. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my experience to be a 5/10.” 

Freshman Ramisa Sharif said, “Leaving remote learning and entering a new high school in person was definitely a sudden change that took me a while to adjust to. During remote learning, I felt a lot more laid back as the work was all online and if I had any difficulty I had easily accessible online sources and straightforward communication with teachers. However, talking with my peers was a lot more difficult as it was all online, which made group projects and receiving peer tutoring a lot more difficult.”

When it comes to safety concerns in relation to going to school in-person with an ongoing pandemic, Ramisa expressed, “If I’m being honest, I feel like the school could be better when it comes to COVID safety as there are so many people in the halls and the classrooms usually have about 30 people. In regards to masks, some people with music classes have to take them off in order to play instruments. But for now, masks are holding us together.”

Freshman Yihui (Anna) Huang applauded the precautions taken by the school in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic saying “I feel pretty safe because everyone does have their mask on and there are hand sanitizers in every classroom.”

Returning back to in-person learning means embracing old traditions that Harrisites did pre-pandemic but had to be altered during virtual learning. The Classic asked freshmen who have never experienced these traditions before about their thoughts on these topics.

“Something I noticed Harrisites do during my in-school period that I wish to do in the future is the Election Simulation. It seems like a very educational and helpful activity that could help me better myself in the world of politics. I wish to do this in my senior year.” said freshman Sumiya Chaudhry. 

Ramisa noted, “One interesting thing I noticed that Harrisites do are student-led performances such as S!NG and a variety of student-led clubs. I think it shows amazing hard work and leadership which are fundamental skills and are very beneficial to use in life.”

Coming back to school means adjusting to a whole new schedule and new set of responsibilities within their home environment and academic environment. Freshmen also shared how their daily-routine during the week has changed since returning back to in-person learning. 

“My daily routine on Fridays has changed so much due to zero band. I now have to get up extra early for the commute to school every day and stay later for clubs and other extracurriculars so I think overall, I have definitely had less sleep but have been more social than I was during online school,” said Yihui (Anna). Nadia added, “My daily routine is definitely more balanced. My sleeping schedule is better, I’m not oversleeping or finding myself taking naps during some of my classes.”

Many students remain hopeful in these trying times. Sumiya concluded, “I feel that the staff and faculty are working very hard and well to keep me safe.”

Photo by Renchhen Lama