McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Opinion | Senior ‘Zoomers’ survived uncertain years

The Class of 2024 had a very difficult and different start to their high school careers during their freshman year, but it wasn’t all bad
Mackenzie Sroka
Though seniors started their high school experiences learning remotely during the Covid pandemic, a difficult and uncertain period for many, some of the lessons they learned have helped made them better learners — and helped prepare them into better adults.

All schools were shut down in the midst of COVID-19. An eighth grader who barely got a graduation is expected to start their high school career, just not the way they would have imagined. Instead of bustling hallways and full classrooms, they start their high school career with their bedrooms acting as their classroom and their classes through a computer screen. Zoom, homework, rinse, and repeat. Digital learning was an awful way to start, what some believe to be, the best years of someone’s adolescent life.

As freshman, Class of 2024 along with all of MCHS students were learning virtually throughout the 2020-2021 school year as the COVID-19 pandemic surged across the globe. Students would attend their regular given schedule but by the means of a digital learning schedule. Students would attend each class period digitally, eight periods a day, through the means of Zoom meetings and Schoology assignments.

Students who started on Zoom were socially isolated. It is natural for the human mind to want to feel a sense of belonging but without it it leads to many mental health difficulties such as problems will self-esteem and self-actualization. Without the physical connection with other students and staff, it isolated students on one side of a computer screen with lack of human connection and a building sense of mental fatigue.

“Not being able to meet new people or even learn properly because of not being able to learn through in-person learning,” says senior Adelynn Kuhlemeier. “I don’t remember a single thing I learned over Zoom.”

The virtual teaching style lacked the connection it needed to make learning engaging. Teachers did their very best to make learning engaging on Zoom, but the lack of connection between the content and the real world only heightened that feeling of isolation.

“Personally, I hated Zoom,” says senior Mia Wiginton. “I felt so disconnected from my friends and it was much harder to learn online. That made the switch to ‘in person’ even harder.”

The switch from fully digital learning to a hybrid schedule was yet another change to adapt oneself to though such a switch proved to be hard for some freshman as they grew accustomed to the introverting way of learning.

However, amidst all the challenges, the situation provided an opportunity for students to push their limits and explore their true capabilities. It motivated them to adapt to the new circumstances and find innovative ways to continue their studies and achieve their goals. Despite the difficulties, the experience helped the students to develop resilience and determination, which will undoubtedly serve them well in the future.

“For me starting on Zoom came with responsibility,” says senior Tyler Hurckes. “It gave students the opportunity to hold themselves accountable considering all the leniency of doing school from your house.”

These students who started their high school online adapted to be more flexible and accommodating toward different schedules, even self-disciplined as to learn at their own pace. They also learned many other skills that may have not been actively present in a real classroom. In a way, it made the freshman grow and hone those skills in order to be unique.

“I thought it was a good experience because of things mentioned already and it made us unique in a way. No other year will be anything close to a freshman year on Zoom” says Hurckes.

Starting high school on Zoom has undeniably presented the class of 2024 with unique challenges and experiences. While the transition to online learning has brought about its own obstacles it has fostered resilience, adaptability, and other skills. Despite the unconventional start, this generation of students approaches learning with adaptability and the ability to overcome adversity.

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