MHS Students are Ready for a Full in-Person Year

Students at MHS get back into a normal year while adjusting from the previous year.

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Photo Courtesy of Fatimah Khan

MHS Students walk to class, eagerly diving into the new year.

Kate Boswell, Spotlight Page Director

In September of 2020, the student population of Mamaroneck High School was returning to school in a way that was anything but normal. Many students were not even returning to the building for their first day of school. It was understandably very disorienting period of time for students. The fully-remote option that was offered at MHS was an opportunity that allowed many students to remain active in their day-to-day classes and activities without facing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. After a school year spent in their homes, the fully-remote students returned to MHS this fall with mixed emotions.
Margaux Cowles (‘23) preferred in-school learning as opposed to the fully-remote schedule she followed last year. She had the “same routine – get up, get dressed, go through all your classes, do homework, go to sleep.” Cowles explained that this was a hard schedule to follow and she felt incredibly isolated from her peers and teachers. The feeling of isolation was something that a lot of remote students could relate to, but it also gave some students a safe haven from the difficulty of socializing with others. An anonymous student (‘23), explained that “socializing is a pretty definitive part of high school, but for many students, including myself, it can be a stressor.” This student really enjoyed the simplification of remote learning. They were able to enjoy the year and had one of the best school years that they’ve had in a long time. Though these students had a very similar year of being on Zoom video conferences for a majority of their day, the experiences from student to student varied quite a bit.
All remote learners had positives and negatives to their experiences. For Cowles, she benefited from the flexibility of where she could be with remote learning, and it saved her from the “worry about precautions in addition to the stress of school.” The anonymous student explained that “having the plethora of anxiety-inducing factors I face during in-person learning truncated was quite welcome.” It made their own experience with Zoom learning much better than dealing with being in-person.
Unfortunately, despite all the positives that students gained from remote learning, there were also a lot of drawbacks. Cowles explained that as the year went on, it became more of a challenge to stay focused on class with distractions like her cell phone surrounding her. It was “easy to lose track and it was challenging and stressful to catch up” once you lost focus during a Zoom session. The anonymous student also had issues with being distracted from work and dealing with impulse control. This student explained that “it was hard to not drift off at points – more so than during in-person learning.” Another issue that Cowles brought up was how different forming relationships with teachers was. She explained how it is much easier to talk to teachers in person and create a relationship face-to-face without a screen acting as a barrier between them. Group projects were also a challenge and, according to Cowles, could be “tricky and a big pain.” These problems are ones that Cowles is looking forward to leaving in the past.
As for the return to school, Cowles explained that she was “stoked to go back to school.” Although remote learning worked out for her and was the best option for her during COVID-19, Cowles was eager to get back into the building. In-person is still her preference after a virtua year. Cowles is “excited to be getting dressed and ready for school and stoked to meet teachers and see people and have conversations.” However, another student was unsure of how to feel about the return to school and planned to return with “cautious optimism.” This student, like many of the returning remote students, expected a jarring initial return. The student is really looking forward to the opportunity to sharpen their social skills this year.
Students were able to successfully complete a year of school from their homes, but they would not necessarily do it again if it was an option this year. Both of the interviewed students explained that they would intend to return to in-person school even if remote learning was an option offered to students for this year school year.