The New Life of a Freshman: Moving from Middle School to High School in a Pandemic

Brooke Chapman, Feature Editor

Whether it’s 16 candles, or Riverdale, or another teen high school drama, everyone dreams of having their own fantastic unique high school experience. But what happens when that fantasy is stripped away? There is no media model, or set of examples that talk about migrating from middle school to high school in a pandemic. This new reality hits like a brick wall, new faces, new classes, new workloads, how are the freshmen handling this abrupt and odd change? And most importantly, how does walking into a whole new environment over the screen with no certain future affect a students mental health?

One of the first things middle schoolers think about entering high school is the plethora of new faces and new people to become friends with. This ideal has changed over online learning though, “Even with friends I know closely, we don’t talk anymore,” said freshman Ellen Maclean.

Some teenagers feel alone to begin with, even without the hardship of being in a pandemic. “I definitely feel more lonely now than in middle school since everything is now virtual,” said freshmen  Irene Choi. “I feel like I’ve drifted away from a lot of my school friends. I looked at highschool as an opportunity to make new friends, but because of the pandemic it became a lot harder to do so,” said Choi. 

A lot of the freshmen this year still feel like they’re in middle school because they have never walked on the campus or seen their teachers face to face.

 “I am 100% more stressed than last year because high school is scary but also because everything feels so strange and disconnected? It feels like school isn’t even really happening but I’m still getting graded and it’s freaky,” said freshman Sadie Roper. Another stress freshman are going through is the new overload of assignments, according to freshman Calvin Rengach. 

“It could just be first year highschool just getting used to stuff, but also I think there’s a lot more assignments this year,” said Rengach.

Homeschooling is a stark contrast to the chaos of on-campus learning, freshman McKenna Beadnell said. “The online school has definitely affected me a lot more than anything else, that and the fact that people have less ways of contact now than they do in person,” said Beadnell. 

A lot of the older students have the benefit of knowing and bonding with the North Creek teachers. For freshmen though, this bond with the teachers has disappeared, “I feel like it’s easier when you’re in class, you never know if they act differently over Zoom,” said freshman Ashlyn Boulger. “I haven’t really made any connection with my teachers on Zoom.”

Covid-19 has created an environment where students have had to work from home. Until the pandemic is under control and it is safe to go back, the reality is that there is not a choice, but to continue with the way things presently are. But like Covid-19 itself, adjusting to this new version of life must be done. The end of Covid-19 will bring relief in many ways and that includes the class of 2024, who are looking forward to the day when our schools will be reopened and they get to live their high school experience.