COVID-19 alters ‘traditional’ high school experience

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Laurie Carrillo

With many modifications to the school year, seniors and freshmen alike have had to adjust to modified traditions and experiences, including a modified senior sunrise.

Chloe Carter, Copy Editor

From March to September of the apocalyptic year 2020, no students entered and exited Tomball Memorial High School. There were no baseball players sporting celebratory bleach-dyed hairdos gracing the halls in April, no frantic AP exam takers in May, and when August rolled around there weren’t any new shoes squeaking up the staircases because the school year was delayed until September.
With nearly half the students learning from a virtual setting and masks required for face-to-face learners because of COVID-19, freshmen and seniors alike have had to reckon with the fact that their “big year” was not quite what they expected it to be.
“I’m worried that when I go back to school I won’t know my way around or what to do. It still doesn’t feel like I’m in high school because I’m at home most of the time,” virtual freshman Sarah Thomas said. “When I go back in person, I will have to learn everything that I was supposed to already know.”
Seniors would usually know exactly what to expect from a school year at this point, but with the amount of curveballs that 2020 has to offer, nothing is certain.
“I thought we may be all virtual all year, so I am happy that we at least have the split system where those who want to be in person can be in person,” senior Colin Bussell said. “I am also glad that we can still do activities like football games.”
Although a lot of people had apprehension about virtual school, there are some positives to having an interface for schoolwork.
“If I were to miss a day I could just look at schoology and be able to do my class work instead of being behind for a day,” senior Stephanie Villasenor Soria said. “This is extremely helpful because missing a day feels more like missing a week, and the work just piles up.”

It still doesn’t feel like I’m in high school because I’m at home most of the time.”

— Freshman Sarah Thomas

Some face-to-face students even enjoy a few of the changes that the coronavirus has brought about.
“I feel like the things that changed were very minor,” Villasenor Soria said. “I sort of like that we now have our own bubble of personal space in school.”
Many students have found solace from the weirdness of the world in their extracurricular activities, as many groups are able to include both virtual and in-school students during programs after school hours, while others have found escapes that allow them some alone time.
“Going on drives has gotten me through this school year so far,” Bussell said. “Driving is one of the few things that has not changed since COVID started, giving me a sense of normalcy as well as the ability to blast Metallica in my truck.”
Although students are physically further apart than ever before, the modified experience has allowed some students to connect on a deeper level.
“It’s refreshing to be able to complain to my friends about things that are going on and to have them agree, so that I know I’m not the only one feeling this way,” Thomas said.
Even with the abstractness and uncertainty, both seniors and freshmen feel this year may force them to grow in ways they didn’t entirely know was possible.
“We’re living through a future history lesson right now, and someday I will be able to talk about my experiences regarding school and COVID,” Thomas said. “I’ll have different kinds of stories than adults tell us now, but hopefully I’ll just have more to talk about overall.”