It is quite obvious that this past year was unlike no other, with COVID-19 causing a nationwide disruption in learning for many students all over the country. There are also many reasons revolving around the negative impact of this school year on 9th graders. Many students had to adjust to new standards with virtual learning while also trying to find the motivation to persevere through many other challenges into this new normal. However, there is always sunshine after the storm. Even the little things matter — finding ways to communicate with friends, and (virtual) extracurriculars can bring students together to do something that they are passionate about. So while these negative experiences are usually spotlighted during hard times such as the one we are facing, we can still acknowledge even the smallest positive moments that make our current situations a little less dreadful!
I spoke to three ninth-graders at City to ask them questions regarding their first semester experience. For one question, I asked them to point out one positive and one negative thing about their semester, to show that even through the dark times, there is light!
“One positive thing about my experience is that I’ve made more friends and became a little more social with the students who go to the school. One negative thing is that my grades went downhill very fast because I didn’t put that much effort into them. – Alanna, Ninth Grade.
“I made so many friends by joining clubs and being in debate, which has also been one of my favorite parts of my school year so far, has opened up a lot of opportunities for me! One negative thing is that I started getting more and more distant from my old middle school friends. This felt negative to me because I cherish all my friendships and the people in my life – I miss them alot, but sadly that’s what happens in life; as doors close, windows open.” – Rita Sención, Ninth Grade.
“One positive thing is that I made some new friends at City. One negative is that I haven’t been focusing in class as much and didn’t get the grade I wanted in one of my classes” – Leah, Ninth Grade.
From these responses, it’s clear to see that making friends really helped students become more outgoing, which is an extraordinary thing to see because it shows that even if our current circumstances make our grades not what we envisioned them to be, it does not stop us from making an effort to socialize as we would do in a typical school atmosphere. Socializing is fairly important being in a virtual environment, and personally, making friends definitely helped me feel more inclusive, because it showed that I’m not the only one going through this alone!
I also asked them how the school year has impacted them or changed them in a positive way.
“It sort of forced me out of my shell, like in breakout rooms or just speaking in class. And I think I sort of needed it to help me grow — virtually at least” – Leah.
“Being a freshman this year and being in such a welcoming environment like City has helped me really find and express myself! I am able to be my complete self and to grow and learn, and it has helped me for the better! since I’ve started school at city, I’ve come out as non-binary and pansexual and changed up my style to what I felt comfortable with and what made me feel happy; I was not afraid to step out of my comfort zone!” – Rita.
“Being a freshman this year has changed/impacted me in a positive way by allowing me to push myself to want to succeed, especially since being virtual has been difficult.” – Alanna.
Overall, it appears that students at City are very courageous people. From stepping outside of your comfort zone to feeling welcomed, even through virtual learning! My first semester at City taught me that it’s okay to not be okay, because it’s hardly everyday that a global pandemic slowly takes away something as memorable as someone’s first year at high school, and a new school at that. However with the guidance and positive community of people who are similarly dealing with this new normal, even the smallest things can bring us together as one. So let’s make an effort to make the rest of the year count, even if it means pushing through the obstacles to get to the prize! Stay positive, and City Forever!