By Albert Chang-Yoo
As difficult as starting high school can be, this year it has been made much harder. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Summit Shasta has been online-only since the beginning of the school year, with no clear end in sight. For some Shasta freshmen, it has been a tumultuous transition.
Finding friends and navigating an online social field has proven to be difficult. Coming into Shasta, Freshman Idun Hymes-Ruzicka only knew one person, who she said “is not exactly a close friend.” For Hymes-Ruzicka, the process of making friends has been “almost impossible”. Bridgette Timpano also faced similar circumstances. “It’s hard to build connections,” said Timpano.
Fellow freshman Landon Frost says he understands the feeling. He thinks that it’s a part of having class online: “during zoom it’s kind of hard to talk while the teacher is talking.”
Teachers will occasionally send students to smaller breakout rooms so they can discuss with each other. Timpano believes that this doesn’t help. “People feel awkward, they don’t want to start talking… plus normally people’s cameras are off and you don’t want to talk to a screen.”
Hymes-Ruzicka agrees. “9/10 there’s no interaction whatsoever; everyone’s cameras off and muted and no one talks,” she said.
With little social interaction during class, freshman are finding other ways to make friendships. “I have to ask them: what’s your instragram? What’s your discord? And then we have to talk online,” says Frost. Another freshman, Cheyenne Paw, says that she got to know people by asking questions about homework and studying together.
In addition, clubs have been a helpful way to talk to people. “If I see somebody in a club, I’ll talk to them and see if we have anything in common… I’m in a couple of clubs, and I talk to my friends in there,” Paw said.
Hymes-Ruzicka says she has still managed to create friendship: “I have made some friends but only because they are just as outgoing as I am, and because they were actually willing to turn on their cameras and talk to people… but not many people are willing to be that outgoing.”
Some freshman described the strangeness of the whole situation. “There are a few people I feel comfortable with, but I haven’t met them in-person, so it’s hard to know a lot about them,” Timpano said. Frost, who has met a few people, also expressed similar views: “It’s also kind of weird how we know people from zoom, but we don’t know what they’re actually like in person. We just know how they answer questions in school.”
Most were anticipating the return to physical learning. Serena Villagomez, freshman, stated, “I’ve only been to the campus once, when I shadowed… I can’t wait to go back.” Frost said, “I’m excited… It’s a bit harder for me to be motivated online to do work. I feel more lazy. But I’d like it if I went back to school so I can be more motivated.”
For the most part, the freshman also thought that they were being academically supported. Frost believes that his teachers have helped him a lot: “They really understand our struggles; how we’re in a new school, how we’re transferring to an environment we’ve never been to.” Hymes-Ruzicka agreed. “I think they’re offering as much support as they can,” she says. “The teachers seem to actually care about us.”
In the end, the freshman that were interviewed expressed positive emotions when reflecting on the past few months.
“I would still choose Shasta, I’m happy with it,” says Timpano.
“Shasta is really different so I’m not really sure if I regret going here. I’m okay with my decision right now. There’s not too much to complain about,” said Paw.
Hymes-Ruzicka said that she was still enjoying her first year of high school: “I’d say I’m happy; I mean it’s certainly not what was told to us when we were in 7th grade getting ready for high school but it’s the best it can be.”
Featured Image (At the top of this page): Freshman mentor Henry Cooper hosts a Back-to-School night meeting. (PHOTO CREDIT: Summit Shasta)
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