A lot has happened the last four years

Our freshman year began at the tail end of a summer full of “Stranger Things”, VSCO girls, and TikTok trends.

Arriving at California High School, we became the butt of every joke, constantly being made fun of for our freshman status.

“Class of 2023” jokes were trending online, and yet we didn’t know just how good we had it at the beginning of our long, four year stay at Cal.
After only a few months of adjusting to new schedules, going to football games and attending dances, we were sent home in early March.
The year 2020 had already presented a number of notable events to that point, with the passing of Kobe Bryant, talks of a potential World War III, and wildfires burning across Australia and the Amazon rainforest.

But once we were sent home, any hope and anticipation that we had left for our freshman year quickly disappeared.

We were quickly overwhelmed with news about COVID-19 and the upcoming election, all while having to adjust to learning online, isolated from friends and family.

Most of us truly believed that we’d be back to school in no time, and this was just a little hiccup in our high school experience.

BLM protests began that summer, after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

These protests happened all over the country, including in San Ramon and surrounding cities throughout the Bay Area. The protests in San Ramon itself were mainly led by youth, with some Cal students speaking and addressing the hundreds of people present.

Our sophomore year came after this summer, and turned into a quick blur of Zoom calls and Google Classroom.

“I think Class of 2023 became less united,” senior Jhanna Gutierrez said. “We missed the sophomore year era where we could find new people separate from our middle school friends. We had a taste of high school, then it was taken away.”

The rest of 2020 held even more historic events, with former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing away, Joe Biden winning the election, and a vaccine for COVID-19 finally being approved.

During January 2021 of our sophomore year, the insurrection at the capitol occurred, shortly before President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated.

We have made a reputation this year for being quite unspirited. Many students believe that they didn’t have much spirit in the first place due to the COVID-19 pandemic breaking into their freshman year.

“I think the period of years our class missed in high school were when spirit and camaraderie were created and our class just missed a big chunk of it due to the pandemic,” senior ASB vice president Kylie Matek said. “Our freshman year, we didn’t really have time to meet everyone so when we came back it was like we had to meet everyone again.”

Junior year was the first year back from online learning. Students flooded back into classes, apprehensive about the constant mask requirement on campus while talking about popular singer Billie Eilish’s new blonde hair.

Although there was excitement with returning to school, there was still a sense of uncertainty among students.

“COVID caused certain events to be less guaranteed our junior year,” Gutierrez said. “The idea of having a homecoming and first prom wasn’t guaranteed.”

Most students had not returned to in-person classes since their freshman year, and now they were expected to have developed into a junior during the pandemic making it hard to stay up to date on classwork. Many teachers at the beginning of that year were more lenient with submitting missing work, causing more students to have a more delayed response to missing assignments.

“The pandemic affected us all differently, some for the worse, some for the better,” senior Dylan Bretschneider said. “I think some teachers had a tough time balancing in-person teaching and the hurdles they had come across during COVID. Generally, teachers became a lot more sympathetic.”
With the election of Harris as vice president the year before, many believed this was a step in the right direction for women equality in the United States. But this was quickly overshadowed by the decision of Roe v. Wade being overturned, causing many to fear for their health and safety as a woman.

“It made me rethink applying to colleges in states where my rights were gone,” Matek said. “I am fortunate enough to have my rights here in California, but it makes me think of all the women who aren’t able to leave their state if [an unwanted] pregnancy were to happen.”

The last four years spent at Cal were full of many hardships yet the Class of 2023 was able to persevere and find ways to keep working around it.
Although this class is quiet, don’t rule out this group for not being able to work hard and have fun while doing it. The future is bright for us and the world can’t wait to see how these events will affect this class for the time to come.

“I think our class has gone through a lot of changes both personally and globally, so I think it was hard for us to just focus on school when so much was happening during those times,” Matek said. “A lot of us are eager to become adults so we can make the changes we have wanted to see in the last four years.”

“The Class of 2023 are the realest people on campus. I think a lot of us have gone down our own paths to finding individuality, and it’s resulted in some crazy emotional maturity.” Bretschneider said. “We don’t wreak havoc on the campus, we don’t care that much for school spirit, and everyone gets along for the most part. We’re very clearly the chillest class at Cal High.”