“Back To The Hawk’s Nest”: 10th grade students reflect on the first semester of the 2021-2022 in-person academic year

“Back To The Hawk’s Nest”: 10th grade students reflect on the first semester of the 2021-2022 in-person academic year
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For the Class of 2024, freshman year was memorable, though perhaps not for the best reasons. After learning remotely for over a year, as well as missing out on momentous milestones throughout their introductory year at Townsend Harris, their high school experiences have been anything but ordinary. The Classic interviewed current sophomores to get their views on the daunting transition from remote to in-person instruction.  

“This year was my first year in the building,” sophomore Diana Rivera said. “I felt like a freshman, even though I am a sophomore.” 

Some students expressed the apprehensions and difficulties they experienced with being in the school building. Sophomore Premavaashine Premathayalan said, “This year was more fearful because of meeting people in person and having to transition from being comfortable online.” Sophomore Nicholas Ackermann said, “[My] least favorite part is definitely the workload…it’s very stressful.” 

Despite their woes, many sophomores echoed sentiments of gratitude for the return to in-person learning as well. Nicholas said, “My expectations for in-person learning this year was to experience a better learning environment [that would] help me be more successful. My expectations have been met. I look forward to experiencing the school for the first time even though I’m a sophomore.” 

The Class of 2024 also missed out on experiencing annual THHS traditions, such as Founder’s Day and S!NG, in their typical forms last year. Without being able to fully immerse themselves in the thrill of extracurriculars, students could only extrapolate a weak semblance of these experiences through the virtual format. Sophomore Angeline Wu said, “the lack of in-person learning from last year lessened any connection I’d feel for the school.”

However, now that students have returned to the school building, their excitement for these events has become more apparent. Diana said, “[I was] really looking forward to S!NG because of all the things I’ve heard from my classmates and friends.” Similarly, Premavaashine stated, “I was looking forward to S!NG because it had a great community of talented people.” Nicholas, meanwhile, expressed interest in the music program and their performances.

When asked whether they preferred in-person or online schooling, students did not reach a consensus. Sophomore Jeremy Fernandes expressed his preference for remote instruction over learning in the school building because “I have to wake up earlier than before due to commute time,” he said. 

On the other hand, Diana said, “I wouldn’t change [anything] because remote learning was definitely spoiling [for me] with all the procrastination I could actively do.” 

Nicholas said, “I enjoy in-person workload better because of my being in class. I can learn more efficiently and in return lessen the workload because I understand it.”

The sophomores of THHS have experienced a mix of emotions coming back to in-person school this year. “It’s been very different, and thus hard to adjust to, but I think as time goes on, I’ll soon be completely adjusted to in-person school,” Angeline said.

Photo by Aurelia Liu