The Central sophomore experience is a truly bizarre one. From getting their freshman year cut off by the initial COVID-19 school closures, to a mostly remote sophomore year, their social maturing in high school is fairly non-traditional. Without the opportunity to talk to random people in their classes on a daily basis, the development of friend groups and a sense of community is seriously hindered by COVID.
In freshman year, the friend groups formed in middle school are thrown into a new world with new people. Throughout freshman and sophomore year, these friend groups settle into the groups that will become very close over the next few years. COVID expedited this process because instead of throwing 1,300 students into a building every day for the final few months of the school year, students were forced to stay home and eventually choose who they spent time with instead of meeting people through school or talking to that new kid in their class. Because of this, this made friend groups particularly tight over COVID and once students returned to school, this created a unique social dynamic among students.
In summer 2019, the then-incoming freshmen had a lot going for them. They were all looking forward to Homecoming, more freedom in school, and the opportunity to really explore their interests through electives and after-school activities.
“I was looking forward to dances, and… just a regular school year,” explains sophomore Sophia King. “[This year is] definitely different, just being separated, and not having as much people in my classes.” King did, however, have the experience this year of still getting to play volleyball, something she played freshman year as well. In addition to volleyball, King currently attends classes in-person, something she explains has helped her perform in her classes. “I think it’s helped my grades because I feel like when I was at home I was so unmotivated, and just going to school helps a lot.”
COVID has also led to obstacles in students with a clear vision of what they plan on doing post-high school. As sophomore O’Marion O’Conner explains, his goal in high school is to make it to junior year and then eventually go on to enlist in the United States Navy.
Sophomore Makayla Garrity explains that COVID changed a lot of friendships she had made in her freshman year. “I feel like [COVID] changed a lot of friendships I’ve… made along the time of freshman year, and also my perspective on a lot of [friendships],” Garrity explained. Garrity explained that during her junior year she wants to “get to know my teachers better, and actually create a friendship with them and pass all my classes.” Garrity explained, “I feel like [COVID] changed my perspective on a lot of things… I wouldn’t think of high school the same, or my family the same… I feel like I’ve become closer with certain people but I’ve also lost contact with some people.”
Overall, from the oddities that came with a fully remote first semester, to hybrid learning, to the much-anticipated return to full in-person learning, the 2020-2021 school year has been a real adventure for our school and for our grade. We’ve had our mental health, friendships, and our academic performance all tested in a year that we will never forget. As our class moves into the next two years of high school and as we officially become upperclassmen, it is absolutely crucial that we use the resilience, strength, and compassion that this year has taught us to excel into junior year, senior year, and what lies ahead in college. Class of 2023, we got this. We have been through so much this past year, and we will continue to overcome and do what we do best: stay strong and give it our all.