A fish’s view

Freshmen share their perspectives of the pandemic

Catherine Diel, Social Media Manager

Crystal blue skies are way up high, out of sight, out of mind. Murky water clouds the eyes of the little fish as they swim along. The fish are smaller than most others in these waters, fresh to a new setting. But just when they thought they were surviving in the big sea, COVID-19 made a splash, muddying up the water.

Ever since the governor announced that students and teachers would not be returning to school this year, minds have been all over the place; this news meant that everyone would be using online school for the rest of the year. What freshmen thought would be a pretty ordinary first year of high school (aside from all the crazy expectations put in their minds by old teen movies) turned out to be more memorable than imagined.

Isabel Thomason, the current salutatorian of her class, is one of these freshmen. Before COVID-19 cancelled school for the rest of the year, Thomason was involved in orchestra, Academic UIL for Ready Writing, and German, which she plans to take for at least another two years.

“As far as first impressions go, this was not a very good one, but at least things, hopefully, can’t get worse,” Thomason said. “I know this year is going to be far different from the rest of my high school career, so I’m not going to make too many judgements based on this year alone.” 

With school online, high schoolers are facing a tough new environment to work in: their homes. Working at home may be paradise for some, but for others it’s nearly impossible with all of the distractions. These include things the teens had only dreamed about spending their days doing when they were on campus: binge-watching Netflix and YouTube, playing video games, talking to their friends all day, and, of course, sleeping.

“My work schedule is made up of around 30 minutes, or less, of energized bursts of work and then rewarding myself by looking at my phone or some other platform on my laptop for at least 15 minutes,” Thomason said. 

Although Thomason admits that she struggles with time management, she still manages to get all of her work done before the end of the week. Other struggles she faces include boredom and missing friends.

Other freshmen, such as Riley Brown (who was also involved in a number of extracurriculars at school, including orchestra, SURE Club, Book Club, Writer’s Guild, and ASL), face these same challenges.

“My concerns are for my friends who are super social—I hope they aren’t dying,” Brown said. “My personal life has been affected greatly because I was looking forward to some school events like the orchestra concert and banquet, and the clubs I’m involved in. My schedule has also been negatively affected, because now, I wake up at 11, do two hours of work, watch movies all day, talk to friends, and end up going to sleep at 12.” 

In addition to these struggles, freshmen are worried about the safety of everyone continuing to go out in public. They hope to be reunited with friends soon.

“I don’t have too many concerns. I just hope people are staying safe and I miss my friends, but I’m not going crazy,” freshmen Cassandra Ramirez, who had been involved in SURE Club, Pre-Ap Spanish III, and orchestra, said. 

Thomason, Brown, and Ramirez all work hard at the new online schooling and unanimously agree that it hasn’t been too bad. The pass/grade review system, however, has shown to be bittersweet.

“I’m not opposed to the idea [of the pass/fail system], unless this happens to affect my class rank,” Thomason said. “I don’t particularly want to lose that. Although it’s easier on my mind than having to worry about grades, I want to know exactly how I’m doing, rather than [rely on] the very broad ‘pass/fail’ system.”

Despite the hardships faced by freshmen’s new predicament, the positives are not going unnoticed.  

“I have a lot more free time. I enjoy sleeping in and doing whatever I want after I finish my schoolwork,” Thomason said. “I watch YouTube videos and Netflix, browse Instagram and Reddit, and play video games such as Animal Crossing, The Sims 4, and Skyrim.”

The end of the year has not been very fin-tastic for freshmen, but the waters are going to clear, for the future holds great oppor-tuna-ty. The seasons will go on, and the fish will continue swimming along.