“This is Nothing like High School Musical, at All”

The Class of 2023 is halfway done with high school, facing a global pandemic, here’s what they have to say

Kirsten Carman and Clare Acuti

They say high school is either the four best or worst years of your life. For the Class of 2023, we have yet to determine this. In the blink of an eye, we went from inexperienced freshmen to almost juniors beginning to think about college and life after we graduate. We walked through the doors in September of 2019, excited to start a new chapter in our lives, meet new people, and experience new things, but in just six short months our lives were shut down and our high school experience came to an end before it could even begin. While the classes before us have experienced much more loss than we can imagine, we have some words from the members of the class of 2023 on how they feel about their high school experience so far (or lack thereof) and what they hope will happen in the next two years to come. 

As two very active members of the school and community, it was especially difficult to go from participating in multiple extracurricular activities to nothing. When we were first told that we needed to “lock down” for two weeks, we didn’t worry and prepared for the return. It’s been over a year. Over a year of masks, quarantines, and calls from the school. Over a year of waiting to see if an event is “on” or “off”. Over a year of hoping that the day will come where we get to experience what high school really is supposed to be. Here’s what we have to say about this:

Clare- “Our years in high school are especially formative ones and I can tell that the uncertainty of this pandemic has shaped our generation. We have learned to stay on our toes and prepare for the craziest situations that life can throw at us. Although losing the majority of our freshman and sophomore years has been devastating and life-altering, one positive outcome has been a shared hope for the future and definitely more respect for normal school and normal life. I am so incredibly grateful for the fraction of normalcy that coming back to school has given me. Having just a little bit more freedom and social interaction has made a world of a difference, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hopes for an even more normal junior year. I hope to have some of the normal high school milestones: a normal Rock Rivalry experience with my class, a normal prom, in-person award ceremonies, and sports games with spectators. You also don’t realize how much you love having a locker until that privilege is taken away from you. Being able to stand at your locker and chat with a friend is a normal interaction that we haven’t been able to experience in over a year and it is something that I miss about school. I am so grateful for all of the work that the administration and the staff have done so far to even get us back in the building. I believe that as the world opens up and people get vaccinated, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m dreaming big for next year and I know that with hard work in the community, some vaccines, and determination, the Class of 2023 can have the junior year and upper-classmen experience that we deserve.”

Kirsten- “I feel that everyone around us has done nothing but try their best to make the most out of such unpredictable and unprecedented situations. Our parents, our teachers, our administration, and our classmates have adjusted to school during a pandemic, which is something none of us could’ve seen coming. It is disappointing that this had to happen during some of the most memorable times in our lives but I feel we are lucky to be surrounded by people who have been positive during the hardest and most questionable times. I hope that when we return as juniors in the fall, many things will look different in the school. Hopefully, we can get rid of the barriers on our desks that take up the entire classroom and cause distracting glares. Hopefully, more mask breaks will be implemented as a percentage of the students and most of the staff will have the vaccine accessible to them. Lastly, I hope that more normal school events will resume like Homecoming Week, a normal Rock Rivalry, and assemblies in the auditorium. As thankful as I am that the school has worked so hard to accommodate all students under these circumstances, I wish to see an easier school environment in the fall, one more normal.”

We were also fortunate enough to get some feedback from other members of the class of 2023. Here’s what they have to say:

Student 1: “I think my high school experience has been pretty good given the circumstances and they [the administrators] have made it as normal as they could. In September I hope for the musical to come back, be able to attend football games, and a regular volleyball season.”

Student 2: “I think so far it has been quite uneventful and not as good as I was expecting, especially with the pandemic, it isn’t as fun as I think it could be. Next year, I hope everyone will be back with fewer/no masks, we should have more normal events and larger groups available to go, and a normal Rock Rivalry. I think the school needs to be more lenient and understanding of kids nowadays.”

Student 3: “I hope by September we can use paper again, I learn better working on paper. Regarding the pandemic, I feel like we’ve made it work the best we could and kept it as normal as we could. I do wish we had gone back to full live earlier, I know schools who went back full live last September.”

Student 4: “I really hope we get to use lockers in September and the more social aspects return to normal. As much as the school followed CDC guidelines this year, I feel that many teachers didn’t enforce 6-feet social distancing.”

Student 5: “I hope when we come back to school in September we won’t need masks or barriers on our desks. Full-capacity at sporting events is something I also hope will come back to normal. But for the last two years, I feel that the school has done everything they could’ve with the circumstances.”

Student 6: “I feel we like we missed out on getting closer with the other classes because opportunities to connect and get together were cancelled, and Rock Rivalry got cut short last year and this year it was completely virtual. I hope in September we will be able to experience a normal Rock Rivalry and even though the Class of 2021 is leaving, we can connect with our upcoming sister class.”

Overall, we are thankful for everything that the school has done for the students handling the unexpected challenges that come along with a global pandemic. It may just seem like two short months that we get for summer vacation, but in regards to a virus, so much can change as more vaccines become available and numbers can continue to go down. Collectively, we hope to see more “normal” in September. We know that it is not just the Class of 2023 who has opinions on what they hope school will look like in September, and we encourage everyone to speak out about what they think is best. In the meantime, we reflect on this past year and how we have all grown as students, peers, and people and plan for the best for our upperclassmen years.