by Sadie Springer | September 3, 2021 3:00 pm
Riverside Brookfield High School’s class of 2024 has had an unconventional start to their high school experience on account of the ongoing pandemic. With the lockdown starting in March of their eighth grade year, their transition from middle school to high school is blurred. Jumping between middle school and high school without a smooth adjustment, during less than ideal conditions, can feel overwhelming.
“It feels like it [freshman year] wasn’t there. Like just skipping a year of high school.. it was just gone. You can’t do anything about it,” sophomore Ella Herr said.
Looking back on last year’s constant change of remote and hybrid schedules, every student’s experience looks a little different.
“My freshman year, I came in as much as I could,” sophomore Cameron Ramos said, “I was here one day a week in the fall, and I was here 2 days, then 4 days in the spring.”
Participation in the various hybrid schedules during last year vary across the board. The majority of students chose to stay home rather than come in for a hybrid schedule.
“I went four days out of the year, and then just stayed home as remote for the rest of the year..It wasn’t that difficult of a decision because I wanted my family to be safe, and I had also gotten into the swing of things with remote learning. Besides, going to school just didn’t feel the same with not many people there. There was also the perk of being able to get food whenever I wanted,” Herr said.
For some students, last year’s remote learning negatively affected their grades and productivity on homework and assignments. However, other students excelled academically during last year’s distance.
“Ironically my grades actually increased during remote. I would often find myself finishing assignments quicker and getting better quiz grades. I believe this was because in-person school takes up 3 more hours than remote school. In those three hours I was able to get more things done and was more productive,” sophomore Wendy Lopez said.
Now, with the school year being fully underway, improvements to students’ mental health, academic success, and overall well being, are starting to shine through.
“Not having in person classes had a negative impact on my mental health. I lacked motivation every morning I logged into zoom. I would dread lack of human interaction and overall I would often find myself questioning the point of school. Now in person this year, I feel I have gained more social skills as I am constantly interacting with other students on an hourly basis compared to last year where I was put in these break out rooms where nobody would talk,” Lopez said.
One aspect of learning in-person that many sophomores didn’t have to tackle last year was getting to know their way around the building.
“Some people still don’t know where they are going. The middle of the school can be really hard to navigate,“ Herr said.
Depending on their prior experience with RB’s building, first day experiences differed.
“I found everything pretty easily, I was a little bit lost for a few classes, but it was fine,” Ramos said.
Sophomores facing such a drastic change in their school lives have prompted reflections on the first few weeks of the school year.
“I have made some friends, which is good. I think it is getting there to where we are back to normal-ish. But it is still different. It’s weird, because of masks and stuff…I went to my first football game last week, which was great,” Herr said.
Having lost a year to the pandemic, many sophomores are taking advantage of all the things that RB has to offer.
“I’m going to continue the Math Team which I did last year via Zoom, and I’d like to try out for the badminton team. I’d really like to use my sophomore year to make connections with other students and teachers which I wasn’t able to do last year,” Herr said.
Still being in the midst of a pandemic, being able to learn inside the building everyday is not a guarantee.
“To live this year to the fullest I want to try to go to a lot of the football games and go to the dances and get involved through activities. I know I won’t be able to get last year back, but hopefully I can do more this year to make memories and live this year to the fullest,” Herr said.
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