Year One: Freshmen face a new school with new rules

A+group+of+WHS+freshmen+stand+in+their+new+school%27s+courtyard+while+a+WSPN+reporter+interviews+them.+Adjusting+to+a+different+learning+environment+is+hard+enough%2C+but+with+the+pandemic%27s+challenges+and+unpredictabilities%2C+the+freshmen+had+to+stay+motivated+through+all+the+changes.+%22At+the+beginning+of+the+pandemic%2C+I+wouldn%27t+go+outside+at+all%2C+even+in+the+car%2C%22+freshman+Adam+Lange+said.+%22Once+the+time+came%2C+a+hybrid+schedule+seemed+like+a+compromise%2C+an+assurance+that+the+school+cares+about+my+safety.%22

Credit: WSPN Staff

A group of WHS freshmen stand in their new school’s courtyard while a WSPN reporter interviews them. Adjusting to a different learning environment is hard enough, but with the pandemic’s challenges and unpredictabilities, the freshmen had to stay motivated through all the changes. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I wouldn’t go outside at all, even in the car,” freshman Adam Lange said. “Once the time came, a hybrid schedule seemed like a compromise, an assurance that the school cares about my safety.”

Bryn Curtin

With the school learning model constantly changing at WHS to accommodate for safety and students, each grade has experienced many adjustments throughout the year. The freshmen at WHS have gone through all-remote learning, hybrid learning and will soon begin their first in-person high school classes five days a week. For those who had never experienced “normal” high school before, this curriculum makes waves.

“I prefer the hybrid model over the full remote system,” freshman Adam Lange said. “It provides balance in the minds of students. It’s a compromise. It’s not a big risk, and it also isn’t bad for your eyes, you aren’t alone, but you are still independent. It gives a lot of students control and peace of mind.”

Getting to this period of hybrid learning sparked differing opinions across the grade. The transition to an unprecedented learning model is felt throughout the school, but some students notice positive changes.

“It’s easier for me to focus on things when I’m physically present, and seeing my friends more often definitely improved my mood,” freshman Selena Liu said. “I don’t know why, but I just felt a lot more motivated. I prefer hybrid because it is easier to learn new things when I am in school.”

The hybrid model provides the personal-touch and communication with others that the all-remote model might lack.

“The biggest benefit of the hybrid model is seeing my friends in person, especially through the winter when it is harder to get together outside of school,” freshman Amy McCormack said. “It’s a little less distracting to be working at school. When it gets warmer, I’ll be able to bike to school, which is something I can’t take advantage of when we are all-remote.”

The socialization doesn’t appear to be the only advantage that the hybrid model has provided for the freshmen. With some standard schooling practices going out the window due to the pandemic, one might expect some hesitation. However, the hybrid model appears to be granting some freshmen peace of mind.

“It inherently provides balance and stability in the minds of students,” Lange said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I wouldn’t go outside at all, even in the car. Once the time came, a hybrid schedule seemed like a compromise, an assurance that the school cares about my safety.”

This comfort may soon be taking a turn later this year, as the town administrators have decided to switch to an all-in-person learning environment in April. This decision brings some worry to the adjusting students.

“[All-in-person learning] is a bad idea, and It’s rushed,” Lange said. “It will cause a lot of panic and anxiety [among students]. I don’t know how well I will do in the new schedule, and I don’t think my education will improve.”

Those who are not worrying about the impending workload maintain concerns about the safety precautions that this new plan may bring.

“I’m scared for the all-in model because the important six feet of distance we have so carefully maintained over the last few months is shrinking down to three,” McCormack said.

Despite some hesitation about the distancing and workload, some freshmen remain optimistic about the upcoming return to in-person learning.

“I feel like it is going to be a lot more work and more exhausting, and I will really miss the Wednesdays,” Liu said. “I am a little nervous about the safety aspect because now there is going to be a lot more people in school, but I think if everyone follows the rules and guidelines, it should be fine.”