There is no debate as to whether this year has been different than any other. Even though the final two semesters of the 2019-2020 school year were spent virtually, most students saw the final months as an extended spring break. Unfortunately, between having to learn virtually, and coping with not being able to see friends, this year has been much harder on students than prior years. However, for some, this year has been a blessing: no distractions, not having to commute to school, and more time to self reflect and find yourself.
As I polled members of The Knightly News, many said they found a huge advantage to going virtual this school year. Natalie Leung, a sophomore, stated, “personally, I have really benefited and enjoyed the extra amount of time added to my schedule from what I would usually use to commute to school. Just that hour creates a huge difference in the flexibility of my day, through the ability to utilize that time to finish up school work, or even sleep in a little longer. I find that cutting out the often stressful task of commuting everywhere, remote learning and this year’s flexibility has improved my mental health and my ability to cope with my heavy workload.” Natalie originally was a hybrid student, going into school every other week, but decided to go virtual full time due to the positive effect it had on her. Similarly, freshman Zohra Ahsan deeply felt the comfort of her own room. She finds “it easier to feel relaxed and comfortable during classes because she gets to be in her own room and have all [her] necessities within arms reach.” There are obviously negatives to doing school virtually; however, Zohra was delighted to find that she is able to feel relaxed and comfortable when doing her work throughout the day. Personally, one of my least favorite aspects of going into the building is how uncomfortable I usually feel in the classroom. I tend to hate how cold or warm it is, and how miserable it is to sit at a painfully uncomfortable desk. With virtual school, I never feel that way, I feel more relaxed throughout the day; and for a fidgety student like I am, that really helps me focus on what my teacher is saying.
Unlike Natalie and Zohra, many other students have had a hard time for a variety of different reasons. Junior Jack Carter described his experience thus far: “deadlines pile up, tests and quizzes seem to occur every other period, questions are somehow harder to ask from behind a screen, and crucial connections between teacher and student and student and peers are now lacking, if not completely absent.”
Academics are not the only thing some students have been struggling with this year. Taylor Alphonso, another junior, stated that “the first marking period was probably the worst marking period of my high school career, not only in regards to grading but also mental health. I was stressed every day, all day, and could not catch a break.” Deteriorating mental health is something I think everyone has dealt with this year; from an uptick in anxiety, to depressing thoughts, to an increasingly stressful workload, virtual school has been extremely hard on almost everyone this year. On the other hand, some, such as sophomore Edward Simon Cruz, have been working on improving their mental health. Cruz, for his part, has spent the pandemic reflecting and working on his mental health. Edward states “I’ve learned that everything we experience — every joyful moment, every gloomy day, every little bit of reassurance — is all part of an ongoing journey.” With all the hardships going on in the world, it is admirable someone can have this clear of an outlook of the challenges they face daily.
Throughout reviewing submissions by fellow journalism students, I realized that even though everyone in theory went through the same pandemic; no two answers were the same. There were similar themes throughout the responses, but it was clear how differently everyone was affected based on their personal situation