First Day of High School, at Home?
Back to school looked a little different this year. Not only did the 2019-2020 school year get cut at the end due to COVID-19, many schools, including Nutley Public Schools, still weren’t ready to allow students to come back into the building for September. Nutley students are continuing with virtual schooling for the start of the school year in their homes. For many, if not most students, this has been a difficult transition, missing out on parts of school that they’ve looked forward to for a while. For freshmen, specifically, this is definitely not how they expected to start off their years in high school.
Freshman year is the year of transitioning. Meeting new people, becoming more independent in school, and an exciting feeling of growing up is something many students look forward to when graduating middle school. Students of this year's freshman class didn’t get that proper closure to their middle school years. “I think we mostly missed out on the 8th grade dance and just the usual 8th grade things like signing year books, saying bye to teachers and students going to different high schools, and obviously graduation,” says Jessica Ostrowski, a freshman at NHS.
At that point of COVID-19, the cancelation of school, graduations, and dances were all completely out of anyone’s hands. All the district and middle school could do was make the best of it by hosting virtual events, but one thing the freshmen definitely didn’t expect was to be graduating middle school in their living rooms.
Learning through a computer screen is not an ideal way for many students, especially when it comes to starting a whole new year at a whole new school. “My biggest struggle of not being able to go into school would probably be trying to get to know the teachers and new students in my classes that I don’t know,” says Laina Giella, also a freshman at NHS. “I find it to be more difficult to communicate with them and have them get to know me as a student.” The first couple weeks of school are usually spent getting to know the teachers and students in your class while easing back into the school days, but when learning through a computer screen that interaction is lost.
Many students never thought they would be desperately wanting to go back to school. All the students can do now is social distance and wear a mask in public to get back to that point of school in person. “I am just nervous for when we go back to school since we didn’t get an orientation and most of us freshmen don’t know where anything is located”, says Jessica Ostrowski. Most freshmen still wonder what the NHS building is like and where all their classes are. For some it's what they are most excited about when getting back to school. “I am really looking forward to getting to know the school since I haven’t really been in it before,” says Giella.
Even though NHS may be home for school right now, these days at home still count. For many students, being at home means that it is harder for them to take these classes seriously since they’re in the comfort of their own homes. “Take freshman year seriously even if we are at home and definitely don’t take it for granted,” says Natalie Spina, a junior at NHS. “It goes by so fast and freshman year is the year to build your GPA and personally I wish I had someone to tell me because I am still trying to boost mine.”
High school does by in the blink of an eye. Although being at home is not ideal and a struggle for many, not just freshmen, these are still the only four years of high school each student gets.