New Chiefs Face the New Normal


Sara Riley Kight, Staff Writer

New challenges are the norm for freshmen, but this year, the challenges are more different than ever before.


Kaitlyn Calkin, a freshman who goes to in-person classes Tuesday through Friday, shed some light on how the back-to-school plan was going so far and what it’s like being back in school for a brand new year.


“COVID put a wrench in what I thought my high school experience was going to be like,” she said, “and I feel like most of us [are] missing out on a lot of opportunities.”


As the year develops and administrators and staff work to find the best and safest solution for the educational environment,  many students are beginning to wonder if they made the right choice—whether it was staying virtual or going back in face-to-face.


“I like being in person,” Calkin said, “but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily better than virtual.”


Getting to know classmates can be difficult when only half of their faces are visible and at least three feet away.


“It’s less awkward talking to your teacher,” said Calkin, “but we entered this virtually not knowing anyone and still don’t really talk to each other, and there isn’t much communication in group work.”


Even so, it still may be more “normal” than seeing only names and the last three digits of a student ID for three months straight. The precedent for teamwork during the first month of school was breakout rooms full of black screens, white letters, and silence only broken by a few words in the time allotted by the teacher.


Calkin pointed out that the blending of in-person and virtual classes still results in a technology disconnect that has an impact on learning.


“It’s odd because some classes require you to log in to Zoom and use headphones, which creates a really odd dynamic, and you can hear the audio delay,” she said. “It’s also very different because the teacher is trying to teach the in-person and virtual class, and the teaching might be split.”


COVID-19 protocols have also restricted students’ freedom inside the building, diminishing the social interaction considered to be one of the highlights of high school life.


“Desks are three feet apart,” Calkin said, “but some of my classes are too big and have to be held in the seminar room while math class only has two other people in person.”


It’s only the end of October, and the school system is still grappling with what the best course of action will entail. Factors ranging from the health of students and families to the different types of learning styles, as well as students who need the extra flexibility of online versus those who need the structure of an audible school bell have to all be considered.


No matter how it all finishes out, this freshman class is certainly starting out like none before.