Freshmen share their thoughts about starting high school at home

Newspaper adviser Brian Barr, who also teaches English 9, had his freshmen write letters to themselves about starting their high school experience during a global pandemic. They addressed their letters to themselves in the future since they’ll be getting their letters back senior year. Here are some of their letters.

Dear Future Ally,

This is Past Ally and I want you to know that high school is way different than you thought it would be. Honestly, it’s not that bad but it’s hard to stare at the computer for class the whole day. Hopefully, you are in school and don’t have to worry about COVID-19 anymore.

In the past, you thought you would have to walk through the halls of the school and push past other kids. Instead, you are at your desk typing this assignment. Don’t worry though. Your teachers understand what you are going through and they give you some time to write and work independently. This gives you time to get your mind away from the screen unless you’re doing assignments on the computer. 

Now that I’ve gotten out the positive side, let’s talk about the negative side. Although you’ve already experienced being at the computer for so long, this is different. That’s probably because it’s school instead of playing video games or watching YouTube. Staring at the screen and having tons of kids and the teacher staring back is not your favorite thing but it’s not as bad as you had thought. 

Another thing is that classes are going to be hard without being face to face. An example of this is Theatre Arts 1 which wants you to get up and do improv. Another one is biology, how are you going to do experiments? It’ll be harder to learn especially since you are a hands-on learner. However, you do enjoy the long breaks that can be used to talk with your friends and the fact that everything is close to you, such as the bathroom, the kitchen, the food, and your desk. 

What have you learned from this experience? Online school is definitely not for you. 

Ally Khoo


Dear Nani,

I’ve just started my first year of high school during a global pandemic. We’re all wondering when school’s gonna get back to normal. Heck, everyone’s wondering when the world’s gonna get back to normal! But when you think about it, what will the new “normal” actually look like? ‘Cause I don’t know if things are ever gonna be exactly like what they were just back in January, at least for a long time. Whelp… Welcome to 2020!

The current normal is wearing a mask and keeping your distance from all others, even family. In fact, I only recently started seeing a few people in person after keeping our distance for more than five months, now commonly referred to as “social distancing.” 

I remember my last day at in-person school, and I still haven’t forgotten the date either. To be honest, I remember the better part of every minute of that day. It was Friday, March 13, and there were rumors that we wouldn’t have school for the next week or two. Of course, most of us were all ecstatic to hear this at the time; it was like the news of the upcoming winter break. Although we were wrong and March 13 was 158 days ago (and counting). 

But point being, we’re only two full days into the school year–today being our third–and it feels like everything is everywhere and yet all we’re doing is just sitting behind our computer screens in our homes, going nowhere.

Every day melts into the next in an endless cycle of waking up and getting ready just to sit in front of a screen for several hours “going to school.” which I think it’s safe to assume is going to be accompanied by a few more hours of homework. Basically, in 2020, we’re just in front of our computers for a long time… which is pretty sad, to be honest. When one is in “normal school,” what you worry about is getting to your class on time, listening to teachers, and making sure we get our homework done. 

In online school, we have to make sure we get to the right classes (make sure our link is correct!), make sure we have a working system: computer, camera, microphone, etc. We also have to get homework done and then also remember to upload it to Google Classroom, or whatever the platform shall be.

At times it’s just so very overwhelming and stressful (already) and you just have to keep in your head that things are gonna get better. ‘Cause they will.

Nicolette Ogne


Dear future Addy,

Last week was my first week of high school and needless to say, it was not what I expected. As you know, I had always pictured high school as some Disney channel-esque experience. Although I knew that would not be the case, I did not expect it to be this far off from my imagination. 

Rather than walking up to school on my first day and meeting my friends, I logged onto Zoom and hoped to see someone I knew. Rather than bringing a homemade lunch and sitting with my friends, my mother brought me Subway and I ate alone. Rather than getting to play sports after school, I took a walk around the block. I was really looking forward to my first day of high school but that was taken away from me because of the coronavirus. 

While there are quite a few negatives to online schooling, there are also some positives. Before the virus, I would wake up at five-thirty in the morning so I could get ready and ride my bike to school. Now, I wake up at 7:30 and walk to my desk. I also don’t have to be worried about looking and feeling good every day because of the poor camera quality and the limited vision it gives. 

Finally, what I consider to be the best part of isolation, I don’t have to go to P.E. class. While I do enjoy sports and staying healthy, physical education wasn’t very enjoyable, it was the least favorite part of my day. I still, technically have to go to P.E. but it’s not exactly the same class it was before; now I feel it’s slightly more enjoyable. 

All-in-all, online schooling has its ups and downs but I trust I can make it through. It’s going to be quite difficult to adjust and probably much more challenging but I believe I’ll be able to stay motivated enough to finish it with at least passing grades. 

Addy Hurley


Dear Jordan,

Hey there handsome. It’s you from the past, and I’m here to remind you that no matter how minuscule your problems may be, they can get even more minuscule when sitting in the comfort of your own home with endless entertainment and possibilities can be considered the major challenge of your generation. 

Ha, just kidding. But no, not really. I’ll be real with ya, this whole situation is bonkers and spawned some pretty insane headlines. I know this assignment is all about reminding you of the crazy and tough times of the past, but the directions were to be honest. So…

I’ve felt from the beginning that this whole lock-down and corona thing has been insane and unnecessary. I feel less strongly about COVID being an overhyped and unimportant pseudo-flu, but as the days go by the more absurd the world is. I never thought I’d ever see the world in such a state that Kanye West runs for president under the “Birthday Party”(no seriously), I never thought I’d ever see a world where I’d be tardy because America’s internet infrastructure can’t handle the education system, and I definitely never thought I’d ever see a world where life is canceled because of a disease that spread because of geopolitics and incompetent leadership.

You know how people say that “The Simpsons” predicted the future? That isn’t true. It’s just that our society is such a circus that it’s similar to a satire cartoon. 

As the Russians say, “Today is fine but tomorrow will be even worse.” Let’s put that philosophy to the test. Best of Luck,

Jordan Vereen


Dear Kira,

Congratulations! You made it to ninth grade. You’re a freshman, a young soul ready to be molded into an adult through the rigors of high school. You’ve begun to walk the challenging road that is now the only thing between you and the great wide world beyond. The trials and tribulations you shall face over the next four years will make you a smarter, stronger, better human being overall. This is the beginning of your arduous trial by fire. How exciting!

However, looking back on your first week, the closest thing to an arduous trial by fire you remember was trying to figure out why your mic stopped working while your teacher was asking you a question over Zoom. The crazy idea that this is reality, that this is your reality just doesn’t, well, compute.

Because the truth is, you’re disappointed. Very disappointed. You thought that by this time of year, you’d be attending your classes in person, exploring the new campus alongside your friends, and eating lunch in the cafeteria instead of in your kitchen. All throughout elementary and middle school, you’ve waited to step into a high school classroom with a sense of belonging. Somehow, even now that you’re officially allowed to call yourself a high schooler, you’re still waiting. Still waiting to step into that classroom, and still waiting for that sense of belonging. 

Despite this, you tell yourself that your situation is not really as bad as it seems. Just think of all the seniors last year who attended their high school graduation, which was supposed to be one of the most empowering events of their lives, from home. You’re lucky compared to them. 

Still, you can’t deny that you wanted more. More than long (and sometimes monotonous) lectures over Google Meet. More than staring at a Google Doc all day. Your education now depends on the strength of your wifi connection, and face-to-face interaction has been turned into face-to-screen interaction. You can’t help thinking that you never asked for any of this.

Instead of trying to put a positive spin on this ridiculous situation, you need to understand that in a broad sense, high school actually was what you expected it to be – an arduous trial by fire. So consider every feeling of disappointment and longing, every technology malfunction, every frustration you feel right now as a part of your trial by fire. 

The high school experience of each individual is supposed to be unique, just like they are, and this applies to you too. We were meant to be challenged in ways we never expected to be, and you need to choose to believe that even if this challenge comes in the form of a devastating pandemic, it’s still just that – a challenge. One that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, and therefore can teach you things you never knew you didn’t know. 

So do yourself a favor and stay logged on to Zoom.

Kira Sidhu