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Virtual school has caused everyone to be separated from their school friends, activities and communities. Freshmen are now over a quarter into their first year at WCHS and many are still struggling to find where they fit in without the ability to meet new people and see and engage in new opportunities.
There are so many things that every student has missed this year: finding their classes, football games, the homecoming dance and even just sitting with their friends in the halls during lunch. Returning WCHS students think back fondly with their friends, teammates and bandmates about memories from previous years, but the new students this year can only dream of what these experiences and this year would have been like for them.
“I definitely feel like I’m missing out on making new friends and just being social and going to events because that’s something everyone has always told me to look forward to,” freshman Chloe Rutberg said.
New students have not had a proper introduction to WCHS in order to find their way and get comfortable in a new school and environment. It is incredibly difficult to meet new people and build connections over Zoom and the awkwardness of some situations play a big factor in that.
“My teachers have been very welcoming and helpful in my transition to this harder workload, and they try to make the classes engaging and fun, but I feel like it doesn’t really work, and I still am just completely missing out on the social aspect of school,” freshman Sophie Michnik said. “I don’t get to interact with my classmates except in breakout rooms where no one talks, so the only friends I have are the ones I was friends with in middle school before we went virtual.”
Every student at WCHS wishes they were in-person and longs to be back with the people they know and meeting those they have not yet met. Returning students have the advantage of being familiar with the people in their classes and the rigor and pace of high school work. Adjusting to the academic environment of WCHS but not getting to experience the fun is challenging many new students.
“Every day I see black boxes with names of people that I know nothing about, and I don’t have a way to break in and get to know who is on the other side of my screen,” freshman Julia Irwin said. “I wish I could better know my classmates and have conversations with them because they could help me in the class and I think it would help me enjoy school more.”
Even though some efforts are being made to make the freshman feel easily included, it really has been up to each individual to find opportunities that interest them. Since there is so little social fun with classmates in school, sports teams and clubs have been vital to keeping up peer interaction.
“I have not formed friendships with anyone from my classes because it is hard to get to know someone during an online class, but I have found other ways to meet new people. I ran for SGA and won, joined the debate club and am doing the virtual soccer and dive seasons,” freshman Sophie Meyers said. “It’s really hard to adjust to high school this year especially because this is my first year in a new school, but joining a lot of extracurriculars makes it a lot better and more fun.”
Extracurricular activities are still occurring and are open for all students to join. They are a great way to meet new people and engage with other students in a time when it is very difficult to find other ways to. There is a list of all the clubs and contact information on the main page of the WCHS website, as well as the link to the athletics and arts websites where students can find programs and activities to do.
This virtual year has been challenging for freshmen and other new WCHS students, but there are many great opportunities to engage in the school community.
“I love being able to work from bed and I am really excited to finally be in high school,” Rutberg said. “Even though I wish I could be around people and experiencing new things I am glad that I am finally finding my groove.”