Freshmen reflect on unusual start to high school


Graphic by Emanuel Flores-Lobo

Before entering their first year of high school in a virtual setting, many freshmen had fears of the new experiences to come.

Emanuel Flores-Lobo, Staff Reporter

Ever since the pandemic began, many students have been learning virtually. Learning online has had its benefits and downsides throughout this school year, but many students feel like the downsides outweigh the benefits. Freshmen Caleb Lemus Portillo, Michellys Perez Torres, Selina Ramos, Maddie McCauley and Sonia Yanes-Orellana are five of the many freshmen who commenced their high school year virtually. Each of these freshmen had their own fears before entering HHS virtually.
“[Before going to high school, I feared] staying at home [because of] COVID,” Lemus said. “I wanted to go to school. [My freshman year] would be different [since] I’d be around people. It’s better than staying at home and having to turn on my camera.”
Although his whole freshman year has been virtual, Lemus has enjoyed his first year of high school and learned some valuable things this school year.
“Honestly, the teachers are very nice. They tried to teach [us] throughout this year and encourage us to learn,” Lemus said. “I liked online. I like being in a room where I’m most comfortable. [To] learn better [though], I’d [rather] it be at the school since we’re right there with the teachers.”
Perez feared her social life wouldn’t be active as much.
“I was scared that I wasn’t going to have any classes with [my] friends, or that [the classes] would be really hard for me,” Perez said. “I’ve heard from past teachers that high school is not like middle school at all. It’s really hard.”
Perez believes her freshman experience would have been better if she was able to go in-person. She learned some powerful lessons throughout her first year.
“I would have more friends, and I’d understand work better [in person],” Perez said. “[I learned to not] take life for granted when it’s not bad and to always stay focused on my work.”
Similar to Perez, Ramos was scared about her high school classes. However, Ramos feels like learning online made it easier for her.
“[I was scared of] my classes for sure. I felt like I was going to fail them and that it would be too hard for me,” Ramos said. “[Being online] gave me more time to work on schoolwork whenever I felt like it.”
McCauley was concerned about how she was going to maintain good grades throughout high school. With students having to be virtual most of the school year, McCauley’s concerns grew even worse.
“[I was scared of] getting my grades up. I’ve had people tell me that the work for high school is a lot harder than it is in middle school,” McCauley said. “I’ve been doing really bad online, so I’d rather [have gone] to school.”
Despite the fact that she feels like she could have done better if she was in person, McCauley learned meaningful lessons about high school while being virtual.
“Don’t slack off, because it will bite you in the butt. [If I went to school], I would actually be motivated to do [my work]. Since I’m at home, I’m not motivated,” McCauley said.
Yanes-Orellana was frightened of how big the school was. Compared to her last school, HHS was way bigger. With COVID stopping social interaction, Yanes-Orellna was able to learn a lesson she didn’t really value before.
“I was mostly scared about getting lost in the halls, but since it was online, I didn’t have to worry much about that. Honestly, if we were in-person, I still think I wouldn’t find my way around since the school is very big,” Yanes-Orellana said. “Having good communication with your teachers is really good, [especially] during this pandemic. They really help you out.”
Yanes-Orellana agrees with McCauley, and she thinks in person would have made work easier.
“I would have met more people, and it would have just been easier in person, but online was fine during the pandemic,” Yanes-Orellana said.
Being virtual this school year has given us the opportunity to do school work on our own time, but many don’t find that time due to their learning environment. Ramos has been faced with this challenge throughout this year and learned something valuable from it.
“I get way too distracted and stressed [at home. Sometimes] I feel like I don’t have time to do school and [other] stuff,” Ramos said. “Every class counts. I want to pass all my classes, and they’re all credit classes, of course. I just want to get through them instead of repeating them next year. They’re really important to me.”

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