Looking Back and Ahead

As the school year draws to a close, students reflect on the benefits and challenges of spending most of the academic year remote.

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By Reya Miller

Feet out of bed. Laptop open. Zoom on. And so begins a typical remote day in a year that has proved anything but typical. Every high school student has missed a year and a half of their normal high school experience––a year full of could-have-beens and would-have-beens. Students might have made different friends had they been in school, taken different classes, and had a completely different trajectory. But they didn’t. They spent the year at home. And each grade missed out on unique experiences and opportunities that would have come about in a typical year.

Most freshmen have yet to even step inside Stuyvesant, let alone experience what Stuyvesant has to offer. “I envisioned [walking] on the bridge and [entering] the school when, in reality, my whole school year has been me sitting in front of my computer looking at tiles on a screen all day,” an anonymous freshman said in an email interview. “The transition for me to life in high school wasn't as smooth as I thought it was, from being a middle school student with less workload into a more stressful environment with more work,” he explained.

On top of the more challenging workload, there was also a lack of social interaction. “I [didn’t] get to meet as many people as I would have [...] so social interaction [was] definitely much worse,” freshman Unique Zhang said.

Junior Vicky Liu also experienced a similar feeling of isolation with remote learning: “Going home with friends. I miss that.”

Sophomore Jady Chen felt fortunate to have established a friend base in her freshman year. “Some people might have not gotten so lucky, and I feel like in my Zoom classes, it’s really hard to make new friends just online,” Chen said.

Along with social interaction, learning was hindered by the virtual format. “It was especially hard to learn a new foreign language remotely. I would say that I grasped most of the content this year, but not all,” the anonymous freshman said.

Many students felt like remote school altered the typical testing schedule. “It feels [like] I missed out on one year of the high school experience. [Knowing] that the incoming PSAT and SAT exams are slowly drawing nearer makes me feel like I skipped a step,” the anonymous freshman explained. Chen, however, feels fortunate that the pandemic started during her freshman year. While Chen acknowledges the difficulties that came with missing out on those exams, she is grateful that the pandemic didn’t disrupt her ability to take the SATs or the college admissions process in general.

In light of their experiences over this past year, many students want to get back into the school building. Liu is looking forward to experiencing Stuyvesant in-person again and reminisces about school before the pandemic. “[I’m excited to] go outside [with friends, especially when] the sun is setting and it’s a nice color and you can feel the breeze and all seems calm before you have to start the next ten period day.”

Ultimately, despite the pros and cons of this school year and of the next one, we’ve made it through the last year and a half. And that’s something we should be proud of. Next school year, we’ll probably be in the school building, complaining about how little sleep we’ve gotten and how we miss remote learning, though secretly, glad to be back.