Freshmen reflect on their first in-person semester at THHS

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This year, the Class of 2025 stepped into the halls of Townsend Harris for the first time, marking their introduction to the school as well as a return to in-person instruction following a middle-school experience characterized by online video conferences. With the start of the second semester underway, The Classic spoke to members of the freshman class about their opinions and experiences during their first semester as Harrisites post-quarantine. 

“Everything was really new, the first semester was a lot to take in,” freshman Ayleen Maluenda said. 

Some students talked about their difficulty in adjusting the new course load. “Things were harder…[like] the workload…in remote it was a little [easier],” said freshman Zephan Mewengkang. Though freshman Sebastian Morales described the transition from middle school to high school as “pretty smooth,” he said he would have liked to have studied more throughout the first semester. “I should probably study a few days in advance for tests,” he said.

Freshmen also discussed their involvement in extracurricular activities. When asked if his commitment to Boys Varsity Track and Field was stressful, freshman Andrew Gurcharan said, “Kind of. I [went to practices] three times a week.” 

Though commitment can be time consuming, students have also found that their extracurriculars are one of the greatest parts about their high school experience. “Robotics helped me be free from all the school stuff,” said freshman Dexter Park. 

Another new policy underclassmen have had to adapt to is the community service requirement. According to the Handbook on Community Service and Co-Curricular Activities 2021-2022, a “minimum of 40 hours per academic year (over four years),” is required. Certain clubs have made this requirement manageable. Ayleen said, “Getting hours from Key Club has been pretty easy and fun.” 

Though quarantine is over, COVID-19 continued to impact the learning process over the course of the first semester. Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the school community in early January, attendance rates for teachers and students dropped for numerous days. Freshman Eliana Davy said, “Sometimes my teachers were absent and they would just upload work which made it hard to actually learn.”

The first semester has presented innumerable changes and obstacles ranging from COVID-19 to exams and time management. “It’s kind of folding out…I’m getting used to it,” Zephan said.

Photo by Aurelia Liu