“Back To The Hawk’s Nest:” 11th grade students reflect on the 2021-2022 in-person academic year

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After almost 18 months of virtual learning, the current 11th grade Harrisites returned to the school building this fall with new sets of social and academic responsibilities. Being only freshmen when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, some juniors are struggling to reacquaint themselves with the THHS campus. Several juniors spoke to The Classic about how their current academic life differs from previous years at the school and how their time back in person has progressed for them so far.

When asked to reflect on how junior year has differed in comparison to her freshman year, junior Sarah Rabb said, “My in-person experience this year is better than freshman year because I’m trying to meet more people and get to know them since I don’t have much time left at the school. Masks make it harder to talk, hear, and breathe but we make it work if we really want to socialize. Our school is letting us keep the clubs and sports and that helps keep the interactive element in school.”

Junior Vesiana Malaj explained the changes she has seen from her freshman year, saying, “The difference is being cold [from the open windows], getting out of breath going up the stairs because of masks, and staying in the lobby for lunch instead of the cafeteria. Other than that everything is pretty similar.”

When asked to rate her first few weeks back at THHS, junior Leanna Jiang said, “On a scale of 1-10, probably a 7.5. It wasn’t bad but since I was an incoming sophomore, the school was quite unfamiliar to me. I got the hang of it in two weeks because of some nice friends I made through Zoom the previous year, but it was a little stressful whenever I got to a class late and the teacher would think that I attempted to ‘skip.’ ” 

To add on to how the transition to in-person schooling impacted juniors, The Classic asked them to describe their current daily routine and how it changed from the days of remote learning. Sarah said, “​​I have to wake up super early since I take the bus and have zero band gym everyday. I basically stay outside for 13 hours if I have a club and that’s a lot of pressure on my body.” Junior David Yu, however, had a different take and said, “My daily routine has been relatively the same. Aside from the commute to school, the only difference is that I eat breakfast one hour earlier than I did last year.”

As for what these juniors hope to accomplish with the remaining time they have left at THHS, Leanna said she’s interested in participating in the various student productions. “One interesting thing that I have noticed some of my friends do that I haven’t is being a part of S!NG and all those fun performances. It does sound fun and if I had time I would try it out, however with work and my volleyball club outside of school, I’m afraid I’ll miss out,” she said.

Many juniors remain hopeful that the rest of their year will go by smoothly and safely. “I like all aspects of my life so far and even though there are times when I’m just so tired or want to take a break from everything, I try my best to stay positive and keep going,” Leanna said.

Photo by Erica Lee