Pandemic Chronicles: Freshman Year

Sophia Selitto, Staff Writer

Everyone says just how great high school is and how it’s some of the best years of your life.  I guess that all changes once your high school experience is kicked off with your eyes being glued to the screen day in and day out.  During the period of us being all-virtual, it was truly miserable.  I had never met my teachers in person before so it was quite an awkward experience.  Going along with that, anyone who knows me can say that I’m constantly talking so the whole being-online thing was not exactly most favorable.  Maybe for my classmates but not for me!  My biggest worry during this period was coming into the building for the first time and being visibly lost going from class to class.  This issue seemed to ease but the awkwardness of being fully home and the headaches it brought with it were not very fun.  With the pandemic turning normalcy into a foreign concept, I felt cheated from what Whippany Park students before me got to experience in their Freshman year.

Once it became time to transfer to hybrid learning the tide seemed to change.  I finally got to familiarize myself with the school but it was just so empty and sad.  So many classes had only a few students and it was such an absurd experience.  Despite all of the bad, hybrid learning brought a lot of good too.  Having my first true interactions with teachers take place with less people in the school turned out to be a really great thing.  We got to know each other more personally than what I imagine it would have been like in a normal year.  I made so many connections and got closer with people who I hadn’t been as close with pre-pandemic as well.  I think having so little people was able to bring me perks I wouldn’t have had regularly.  For example, the lack of people in my Italian class meant I was always participating.  This built my confidence, knowledge and I even got recognized at the underclassmen awards for my achievements.  Though I still dreaded the days I was home, I found myself excited to come to school and get to see people.

My year had already been going pretty well when we combined cohorts but that only made it 10x better.  The halls were filled and my classes got bigger, a concept that honestly seemed so foreign.  That was when I finally seemed to get a true high school experience!  I got to see more friends in the halls, interact with people and make some close friendships; most of this I owe to gym.  Our daily walks around the track allowed me to talk to my friends and get off the computer.  Throughout the course of the year, I went from being scared and nervous about my first year at WP to looking forward to having a sense of normalcy back in a place I’ve come to really enjoy being in.  Now, I’m preparing for my first ever AP exam which is taken virtually.  Freshman year brought me so many new experiences, freedoms, and joys all while navigating through the craziest year anyone has ever seen.