As another crazy school year filled with uncertainty and differences comes to a close, I think about how hard it has been for students of all ages. I know how difficult it has been for me at the college level, trying to navigate and succeed in online schooling.
However, for me, this weird new world came at a point where I didn’t lose much. Since I am a college sophomore, I feel like I didn’t miss out on a lot. I look at my girlfriend, though, a senior in high school, and I see how different school has been for her since Covid changed the world. I know her senior year has been different because of it and it has been hard with all the things she’s had to miss out on.
I wanted to interview her about her schooling experience to see how it was for her before and after Covid, and to see how she has managed through this new form of schooling.
I asked her the following questions and these were her answers:
What has your high school experience been like?
“My experience in high school has been pretty good. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve been lucky enough to have decent teachers and good friends to get me through.”
How has Covid changed your high school experience?
“Covid has completely changed my high school experience. I started the year attending school in a hybrid model. I’ve recently started going in-person 5 days a week, but I’ve still missed out on a lot. The way we were split into groups by last name in the beginning separated me from most of my friends. The lack of school events prevented me from interacting with my peers.”
Do you believe that Covid made your high school experience harder?
“Covid made it harder for me to socialize and be involved in school. Though, I was lucky enough to go back to school partially in-person from the beginning, which helped make the virtual aspect easier. I think teachers tried to make things easier this year due to the added stress of the pandemic.”
Who helped you get through school the most?
“The people who’ve helped me the most are definitely my parents. They’ve been incredibly supportive and understanding through everything from tough classes to friend drama. Without them, I truly don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the last 4 years.”
What was your favorite high school memory?
“Helping run my school’s safe trick-or-treating event for the local kids. I loved setting up the decorations with my friends and seeing the excitement on all the little kids’ faces when we gave them candy or complimented their costumes.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced in schooling?
“Definitely my anxiety disorder. I was always an anxious child, which made leaving my parents for school hard sometimes, but in middle school, my mental health took a turn for the worst. I spent years struggling to enter the school building and missed classes because I was too anxious to attend them. I fought to get good grades and through years of therapy and eventually medication, I was able to get myself to a much better place.”
What is the best class you took and why?
“Virtual Enterprise because it was unlike any other class I’ve ever taken. VE lets students run their own “business” through a virtual platform where students in other VE classes across the country and the world can “purchase” their items in exchange for virtual money. This year I was CEO of my company, and it taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork.”
If you could change one thing what would you change?
“I’d change the way people separate themselves into groups. I’ve been friends with people from different groups, but the way people are separated makes it difficult for everyone to come together. I’d like people to care less about who’s popular, a jock, or a nerd, and focus more on getting to know each other. It’s an impossible reality, but it would be nice.”
If you could relive one moment which would it be?
“When I won first place at the regional DECA competition. I was so nervous, and by the time they got to first place I was convinced I hadn’t placed at all. I was so shocked when they announced my name, and I was actually shaking from excitement when they handed me my award.”
What will you miss most about high school?
“I’m going to miss seeing my favorite teachers everyday. My favorite teacher is my business teacher, Mrs. Bernardino, who I had for all four years. She’s taken me under her wing and always been there when I needed advice or someone to make me laugh.”
What advice do you have for other high schoolers?
“Remember that grades are just a number. Everyone will tell you to focus on your grades and get into college, and yes that stuff is important, but always remember that you are much more than your grades.”
How does it feel to know that your high school journey is coming to a close?
“The end of my high school journey is bittersweet. I’m terrified to leave behind the only routine I’ve ever known. I’m entering into unknown territory and the idea of having to grow up and make decisions is frightening. I am excited to take these next steps towards independence, but I know my family and my girlfriend will be there to catch me when I need them.”
What is the best lesson you learned that you will take with you?
“Giving myself the space to make mistakes. For years, I demanded perfection from myself, but high school taught me to try my best and accept that sometimes I will not be perfect, and that is ok. We are all human and we make mistakes, but it’s what we do with those mistakes and move forward that matters.”
Where are you going to college?
“I’m going to college at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.”
What are you majoring in? Why did you pick it?
“I’m majoring in Elementary Education. I’ve always loved school and learning, even when I was dealing with severe anxiety about it, and that’s because of the amazing teachers I had at the elementary level. I want to give back to the next generation by giving kids the ability to love school and learning like I do. I want to use my experience with school and mental illness to give my students the support and care that they need to try their best.”
Doing this interview gave me a lot of insight into my girlfriend’s school life. Since we did not meet until she was a sophomore, I have been slowly learning about her school experience. I knew a lot before, but now I feel like I got to know more than what I would’ve in conversation. I am glad I could give her this space to tell her story and experiences.