First impressions of high school from new students


William Wang and Tiena Lovelace

After a year of online school, two new grades enter high school. But what has their experience been like?

Tieana Lovelace and Mimi Avalos

Freshmen Aarti Khanka and Cordelia Pendergast were in the middle of their 7th grade year when the pandemic hit and schools went online, whereas Pendergast returned to in-person during 8th grade when schools began hybrid learning mid-April of this year. Though the majority of students finished out the year at home.

“I feel like I saw [us having to go online because of COVID] coming with everything that was happening but, I was excited to not have to go to in-person school at first,” Pendergast said. “But when we got into it, it was bad because I didn’t like being online.”

After going online for the remainder of 7th grade, both Pendergast and Khanka continued through 8th grade. As new mandates were set, it was announced that schools would open up again.

“When I found out we were going back in person, I was sad about it,” Khanka said.  “It meant that I would actually have to go back to class and do the work since online was kind of easy for me to do.”

Khanka and Pendergast said being online was nice but that they missed their friends and were no longer able to interact with others. Khanka and Pendergast admitted to doing something else like watching Netflix, scrolling through TikTok or sleeping while being in a Zoom class.  Pendergast said her daily schedule became repetitive after being online for a while.

“I didn’t like not being able to see my friends or my teachers, and I was doing the same thing everyday.  It was just really boring after a while,” Pendergast said.

 Pendergast said that she felt a sense of nervousness before starting high school though Khanka didn’t seem as concerned. However, now that they are back in school and getting a feel for what high school is like, things seem to be looking up for the two of them.

“I wasn’t too worried about going to high school because of all the different activities I would have access to, and the help I could get if I needed it.” Khanka said.

The transition from middle to high school in a normal year is enough to cause anxiety. Along with this year’s freshmen, sophomores Ian Yang and Hans Zhang haven’t had a full year of in-person school since middle school. However, they both said they feel relatively good about their transition from middle to high school.

“I liked having more free time; during Zoom class we didn’t have to go to school. But at the same time, I wish I could have seen my friends,”  Yang said

During online school, Yang said the structure was loose and lonely. With only video assemblies and forced school bonding activities, Yang said he didn’t feel like there was much of an obligation to attend the virtual assemblies therefore the school’s efforts to bond the students were just efforts.

Yang also described his bittersweet longing for online school when he said he sometimes wanted to hangout with friends, but he also was happy that he could stay at home and not go to school.

“When I was staying home during online school, sometimes I wished I could hang out with friends,” Yang said. “But I was sometimes glad I could be at home.”

Zhang said he misses online school and the comfort that came with it. Along with the general social anxieties that come with school, public speaking is one difference that stuck out for Zhang.

“Online school makes me more comfortable and confident because it’s in my own house, and I don’t have to face the whole class,” Zhang said.“Another benefit was not having to get up early and face the coldness of the outside for the bus or walk to school.”

Zhang said he likes high school more than middle school because he has an opportunity to work more independently, and he doesn’t want anyone to control him. He likes to live as himself.

“I don’t have much opinion about middle school and high school, but the only thing I want to mention is that high school has more independence and more self-learning opportunities than middle school.”