The Full Freshman Experience is Lacking in 2020

What it’s like to arrive at Mamaroneck High School during a global pandemic and to acclimate to the new hybrid culture.

Jonah Breen

Eight months ago, I had two main things on my mind: First was stressing about midterms, and second was fantasizing about the privileges that I was confident I would gain from finally going to the high school.

I was in my first-period spanish class and the other kids were talking about this new virus that was all over the news. Apparently, it had started in China and was now spreading across the globe.

Whatever, I thought. It’s not like It’ll ever affect us. We’re lucky enough to be in a well-educated town with good access to medical professionals. Plus, the news tends to blow things out of proportion anyway.

A few weeks later I heard the news: We were going to be out of school for two weeks.

I wasn’t worried. I thought that spring break was just going to be moved a few weeks earlier than normal, and then we’d be back in school. Nothing would change. I would still go to DC. I would still graduate. I would still have a great summer at my camp and I would still go to high school and have free periods, open campus lunches, and classes with friends.

Snap back to today, and everything I just mentioned, everything I was excited for, seems more like a fantasy than reality. I have never known what it feels like to have that much freedom. No one in my grade has.

The transition from middle school to high school is one of the most important in our lives. We have always been told that high school is where you make lifelong friendships, learn new things and grow into who you are. First, we weren’t given anything for graduating. Instead of the ceremony we had been expecting for years, we were just told “yay, you did it.” Additionally, we sat in our houses for six months as we wondered how the high school was going to teach us what we needed to know. Were we going to be in school? Were we going to have to wear masks all the time? Would we have zoom meetings or just be given worksheets to do like last time?

Well, now we have that answer, and it’s very disappointing. We sit in separate desks, six feet apart, wearing masks. We are almost completely removed from half of the a building that we should be spending this year learning the layout of.  We have study halls instead of the free periods we have been excited for for all of middle school. We have no lunch to hang out with friends, none of the school’s many popular clubs to learn about new hobbies and no easy ways to meet or talk to people we otherwise might. Yes, there might be virtual clubs, but those just aren’t the same and don’t have the same hands-on experience that you would expect.

Freshmen have been excited for new privileges for almost three years, but the privileges have been taken away just months before we were supposed to gain them. We know the school district is trying its best, but we still haven’t gained what we were promised. Because of quarantine, online learning and other restrictions, 9th graders are certainly not getting the full freshmen experience.