When adults look back on their life, and in conversations I’ve had with them, they consistently mention how fast their high school years went by and to enjoy them. In my ninth grade, the 2019-2020 school year, I fully expected that to be false, and for the most part, it was. Days dragged on, from eight a.m. to three p.m. The grind was real, and it got tedious.
However, being on campus was not something to take for granted, so I utilized the clubs and activities and started having a more engaging learning experience. Fast-forwarding to the end of February, I was excited for what was to come and have a great time at school.
Then the day before our last two midterms, we all got an email. The email. The entire district was closed the following day because of a new virus in the United States. Initially, we were supposed to return after spring break. But soon the shutdown extended from one month to two months, to three months. Then it became indefinite.
Days went from slow to highly monotonous to plain dull. It got hard to tell what day it was because our entire schedule was shifted. Initially, since this was new for everyone, there weren’t any official assignments, allowing students to have a more extended break at home. My personal schedule changed from getting up at six a.m. every day and finishing my work to about five p.m., and changing it to waking up whenever I felt like it, and working on assignments at my own pace just like that.
Work and assignments slowly dwindled down to an occasional worksheet, and an online project, and such. It was boring. Never in my life did I ever think I was going to miss the fast pace of school, and its eight to three schedule, yet here I was. I had completely lost my motivation to work and do average day to day tasks as well. I found my room getting messier day by day, my head throbbing more often because of the increased screen time, and my overall self just getting a little slower.
I felt trapped in my house because the entirety of my life consisted of a computer, keyboard,
and a mouse in my bedroom. By January of 2021, my thinking got much more existential.
I was a sophomore finishing my second year of high school, but what had I accomplished? Teachers continued to tell us that they were there for us and grades didn’t matter as much, which was a comforting thought. But for me, grades were a way to measure my accomplishments. I had worked very hard to get almost perfect grades, and I struggled with balancing everything in my life, particularly this year.
Then the summer of 2021 came. I slowly realized that this was the second to last summer of my high school career. Moreover, what adults had said about time flying by had become a reality.
Not having an in-person school year hit me with a reality shock. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but knowing that I will be an adult and going to college in two years is unsettling. I know that I’ll have actual responsibilities, and more importantly, knowing that the actions I take now will affect my entire life for the future. What classes I take, my grades, and all extracurriculars could very well determine my path for college.
My perspective completely changed on choosing how to live my days at school for the rest of these two years.
This is why coming back to the classroom(s) full-time was an amazing experience. The first week I was unsurprisingly more tired than usual, but I had been able to do so much more on a regular day and it gave me a fulfilling feeling. I wasn’t used to writing my name on papers, remembering to pack a lunch every day, or even something as simple as taking notes in a notebook. On the flipside, socializing was a breeze, it was as if we never left. It was much easier than I expected talking to other students and teachers. I remember clearly the first day back, seeing my friends on campus and thinking, “Wow, I don’t even know what to say anymore,” and yet, connecting with others wasn’t difficult whatsoever.
Even though distance learning had a decreased schedule, and what felt like less actual work to finish, I would never give up in person again. Over the one month my school has been in session, my ability to retain knowledge has increased, and I am able to do better, without the extra work I had to put in distance learning. Through the year and a half of online education, I’ve come to the realization it’s much better to cherish being at school than to miss it when you cannot have it.