This year is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. By forcing us to face challenges that seemed unimaginable six months ago, 2020 has proved that our lives can change in an instant.
At Harriton, and in public schools across America, this year will look especially different from the others. 2020 will now be the year where Zoom classes and blue light glasses are the norm.
Since everyone’s back-to-school experience will look different this year, we profiled four Harriton students across four different grades to see what they had to say about “Zoom University.”
Freshman: Lucy St. Clair
Sophomore: Thaddaeus Kiker
Junior: Isabel Prosnitz
Senior: Ty Nagvajara
Q: Are you planning to follow the regular school track, or do [email protected], or a third party online school?
LSC: Regular school track.
TK: Regular school track.
IP: The regular track, with hybrid school, if possible.
TN: I am planning on returning to in-school learning whenever we are able. While I know that this isn’t a possibility for some students, I thrive in a classroom setting. Seeing that it is my senior year, I am hoping that the school year will be salvaged at some point.
Q: What are your current stressors for the upcoming school year?
LSC: Starting online going into high school is hard because you are being taught by teachers you don’t know and there will be some unfamiliar faces of students you have never seen before. It will be hard to get to know them.
TK: I’m nervous about what our extracurricular and athletic activities situation will be like, especially come November when Winter sports would normally be in full swing. I’m also a little nervous about how online competitions will go for science olympiad, as taking tests online provides an opportunity for cheating. Nevertheless, I do think most science olympiad competitors nationwide have strong character and will compete honestly.
IP: My current stressors are the pressures of having school without seeing people. For me, I enjoy being able to communicate with others in a work environment, and online school puts a damper on that. I also dislike having to spend the majority of my time in front of a computer screen.
TN: I would say the primary stressors in my life are college applications and finding success in my AP classes in an at-home setting. No matter the year, the college process is stressful for almost any senior but I think it will be important for me to stay accountable and find a balance between my activities and schoolwork.
Q: What positives do you see in online school?
LSC: In Online school, it is a safer environment, and we are less likely to get COVID, rather than going to school and having a higher chance of someone getting it and school being cancelled.
TK: Online school provides us students with a lot of freedom to use as we see fit, and though this can have drawbacks, I think overall it’s an amazing opportunity. Since school starts later in the morning, there’s a solid two-three hour block of time before school begins, which can be used to engage in something of extracurricular interest. I’m going to use this time for programming, SAT, and reading. Right now I’m reading The Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, not the H.G. Wells one), and I’m looking forward to reading The Gulag Archipelago, The Aeneid, and quite possibly some Burke or Rothbard next.
IP: I think the most notable positive for me with online school is the later start time. I absolutely hated waking up at 6 every morning when we had school in real life, and starting at 9, means I can just wake up naturally in the morning (because I’ll probably wake up before classes start!) Waking up after the sun rises sounds like a very nice change.
TN: I naturally work better at night and since the current schedule has us starting the school day later, I am able to save some of my work for the night time and still get a decent amount of sleep. In general, the current schedule will also help students feel more refreshed and energized for classes.
Q: What are you going to miss about Harriton?
TK: Meeting with teachers during Lunch and Learn, talking with friends in the hall, and the general energy of participating in real classes. I’m also going to miss the hot lunch frozen fruits— the frozen strawberries and peaches are sooo good —smiling faculty, camaraderie of sports, and the often berserk energy we have at swim meets (the hype before the 400 freestyle relay is absolutely thrilling). Reflecting on these things I’m going to miss, I think for a lot of sophomores it’s a weird feeling to have been introduced to Harriton for a brief period as a freshman and now live apart from the many things that make Harriton special to us.
IP: I’m going to miss the social aspects of school most, because that was something that improved school for me. Also, I enjoy learning much more in person because I feel like I’m paying more attention when school isn’t over a video chat.
TN: I’ve been able to get involved in a plethora of activities and even start some of my own, so I’m going to miss how much flexibility I had in my schedule and my ability to get involved so much. In college, I know I will likely be busier, so I probably won’t be able to have as much range in my activities, but I’m hoping that I will get as involved as I can.
Q: What upsides and downsides do you see about being in your current grade during this time?
LSC: I don’t want to start the school year online because then I don’t get to experience the beginning of my freshman year of high school in school.
TK: A huge benefit for sophomores is that we are not in a huge transition year. Conversely, I feel like our class’s culture development is strongly pronounced beginning sophomore year, and this is something we won’t be able to fully experience with COVID— though the COVID experience itself is surely going to have a marked impact on our collective psyche. Speaking of which, shoutout to Mrs. T for connecting Jungian analysis and AP Statistics last year. All in all, I’m excited for school to start, and I appreciate our teachers for valuing us and our education during this crazy time. When we went online in the spring, our teachers quickly adapted and provided us with structure and an excellent education; I have no doubt they’ll do it again. COVID is something we can, and will get through. We’ve got this.
IP: As a junior, one of the biggest downsides is that this year, when most kids are starting AP classes and beginning to look at college, we’ll be doing it all online. The only upside I could think of is that more colleges are becoming test optional for the SAT and ACT, as they are still mostly being cancelled.
TN: One upside is that I have a rigorous schedule, so being at home may make my workload more manageable. That being said, I think the negatives outweigh the positives. Senior year is lauded as the best year of high school and I do think that my classmates and I are being shortchanged in a way. For one, the entire year feels very unknown, and the global pandemic has definitely dampened the typical excitement surrounding senior year. I also think the college admissions process will be a lot more competitive as, A. many students were unable to visit colleges in person so they will likely apply to many schools that they may not even enjoy, and B. there are many students who graduated last year and deferred college this year, which will make this year’s applications much more competitive.
Whether you are a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or a Senior, there will be stressors that come with starting school virtually, but the entire Harriton community is in this together. Together we can get through this pandemic, and, hopefully, return to our building, teachers, friends, faculty, team mates, sports, classes, and clubs in the next few months.
With all of these changes, one thing remains constant: we can still work to capture and embody Harriton’s Ram PRIDE spirit from home.