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Student Reflection On 2020-2021 School Year

The academic year of 2020-2021 will definitely be unforgettable. With switching back and forth from virtual to in-person instruction, students have been through much adjusting. Now that the school year is coming to an end, students from grades 9-11 state how they’ve been impacted by this year as a scholar and person. All attending Nutley High School, Ava Iannitelli (a freshman), Ally Garcia (a sophomore), and Natalie Spina (a junior), share their personal experiences and thoughts on this year as a whole. 


For freshmen, high school is usually always a big adjustment. However, with adding the pandemic to the mix, this year has been a lot for them. Ava Iannitelli explains the challenges that this year has brought her. She says, “This school year has been pretty difficult to handle, both present and virtual. When we were at home virtually I had trouble focusing and handing in assignments, but it was also hard adjusting to going back completely.” She goes on to explain that it was even harder for her to go in full-time because she had no sense of the school itself. “Even with the helpful teachers, it was overwhelming trying to find my way around the school with so many kids,” Ava says. 


She further describes her first experience in the school as feeling to be “thrown into the mix.” Ava emphasizes that it felt as though everyone else knew where to go and what to do because they had been in the school before. Even though the first few times in school were stressful for Ava, she is grateful we are able to be back due to her personal learning style. She says, “This year I have learned that I am an interactive/hands-on learner. It is easiest for me to learn when I'm in class and talking with my teachers and classmates. It is more difficult for me to learn when I can not interact face to face.” Now that students have the option to be in person, it is much easier for students like Ava to have a more effective learning experience. 


Another scholar from NHS, Ally Garcia, reflects on this school year. She explains her experience with at-home learning and the impact it made on her. Ally states, “The 2020-2021 academic school year has impacted my mental wellness, enthusiasm, and willingness to complete my schoolwork. Thankfully, my peers and I had short school days online, but I missed in-person instruction and was eager to go back to school. Remote learning made me realize how much I enjoyed going to school every day and interacting with my teachers and peers.” She continues to express how learning in her own home caused her to be less motivated to complete assignments. 


This decrease in motivation caused Ally much procrastination which led to the realization that she is an efficient worker under pressure. She says, “As the school year has progressed, I’ve learned that I am able to effectively work under pressure and write quickly due to my procrastination. As I got used to completing my assignments late in the evening, I eventually developed a skill and learned how to work under pressure.” Besides learning more about herself regarding work-life, this experience has helped Ally to appreciate the small things in life. She stresses, “This year really helped me become more appreciative of the simple things in life. I never realized how much I would miss spending time with teachers and classmates in school until the pandemic caused all schools to close down. Hence, I’ve learned that it’s important to spend time with loved ones, prioritize mental health, and appreciate the simple things in life.”


A junior from the high school, Natalie Spina, emphasizes that this school year has not only affected her as a student, but as a person. She says, “I learned a lot about myself this year. I’ve learned that with all the time at home, I am more introverted than I thought. I also learned how much I care about and love to exercise. I have crew every day for 4 hours and being able to have that outlet made me love working out and taking care of myself.” She continues to address her educational life, “Academically, I learned that I don't give myself enough credit for how hardworking I am. I take my education very seriously and am so lucky to be able to learn something new every day.” Natalie stresses, “For a long time, I was putting others before myself and it was mentally draining. I am so happy and proud that I have been able to step back and take care of myself.” 


She continues to talk about how the circumstances of this year have allowed her to take time to focus and work on her mental wellness. She expresses, “I am so proud of myself for overcoming mental health issues such as anxiety and anger. This year has made me realize that asking for help does not mean you are weak and that is something that has motivated me.”


Overall, this academic year has made a huge impact on students of all ages. It has not only caused challenges but has helped students to learn more about themselves. Even with many changes and adjustments, all students have made it through these difficult months and are finally at the end.