by Jackie Zhang, Staff Writer, October 2021
Last year’s hybrid schedule had many upsides such as allowing students to experience in-person learning for at the very least, two out of every five school days. However, the splitting of the school caused current Class IV and Class III students to have a different experience with upperclassmen and the vigorous in-person schedule than they might have had in a normal school year.
Students this semester are attending four to six classes daily as well as vigorous sessions of afternoon program following the school day, representing a dramatic shift from over a year of virtual or hybrid learning. Arthi Vithiananthan (Class IV) described her experience in public school, “I didn’t really have demanding classes—like the Spanish curriculum, for example, wasn’t very vigorous, so I welcome the new challenge.” Other underclassmen echo similar thoughts about the challenging workload change and seem to express that it still presents a significant challenge and a shift from what they’re used to. “We have a lot more classes since we’re meeting with four classes per week instead of three, and it’s a little hard to manage homework. But in general, it’s okay,” Chinua Achebe (Class III) said. The hardships are similarly expressed among other students. “It was a relief last April when we switched to being fully in-person, but this year I’m realizing that I forgot how much energy was required to have four to five classes every day,” Avery Winder (Class IV) said.
Other students describe how they discovered important skills during hybrid classes that are transferable to this semester. “I’ve learned a lot about organization from last year because the hybrid schedule really required me to be prepared for each week, and I think that’s even more important for this year,” Zach Green (Class III) said.
When asked about how students’ social lives were affected by the pandemic and how they translated into this new year, they agreed that there was a definite loss of contact between and within grades. Changes like this can make the already stressful high school experience even more anxiety-inducing socially. “In seventh and eighth grade, I was friends with a lot of people in my grade. But through the pandemic, I lost contact with a lot of them because I didn’t reach out to them constantly,” Achebe said. He added, “I still say ‘hi’ in the hallways, but we’re just not as close as before.” Freshmen expressed similar sentiments about how the pandemic altered their ability to stay in contact with friends. “I don’t know the grades above me as well as I should have or even my own grade. For example, sometimes I run into someone and I’m like, ‘who was that?’ It’s a shock to learn that they’re a freshman too because I’ve never seen them before,” Winder said.
Connections formed throughout different grades are quintessential to the Nobles experience. Programs such as clubs, theatre, and sports teams allow students across many different grades to form relationships with one another. The lack of interaction between the underclassmen and the upperclassmen during hybrid school had a definitive effect on these types of relations. Though students have mixed feelings about their connections with other grades, some find programs outside of class to be particularly valuable. “Being in afternoon program, which for me was dance, really helped me meet new people and make new friends,” Vithiananthan said.
Other students also agreed about the helpfulness of the wide variety of programs that Nobles offers. “I was lucky last year that I met a lot of upperclassmen, and I’ve met even more this year just because of the activities I did and the ones I’m doing currently,” Green said.
However, others express less positive outlooks on the social situation. “I wish we alternated during the hybrid schedule so we were with the middle schoolers half the time and the other high schoolers the other half,” Achebe said. “Some of the high schoolers I previously knew when I was in middle school, I just lost contact with.”
The pandemic has altered the lives of many students and their high school experiences. It has created a feeling of uncertainty and has led all of them to stray from their normal routines. Changes in learning and their social lives are just two of the many challenges that rising high schoolers must confront as they’re forced to adjust to a “new normal.”