Wayne Hills Sophomores Reflect on Virtual Learning, Adjusting to New School Year

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Aadhithyaram Balaji, a sophomore at Wayne Hills.

By Summer Sreepada

With the new school year having gone on for a few weeks, students have been getting acclimated to in-person classes. The sophomores have had an especially abnormal experience over the past two years, having to enter high school while learning virtually. Recognizing this, the Patriot Press has asked several sophomores what they thought of the past school year and how they are adjusting to the return to in-person learning.

Many students have found it a bit challenging to adjust to in-person learning since the start of the school year, but are finding ways to solve any issues they may have.

“It’s been a little tough, but I try to take notes when my teachers are saying something important so my mind doesn’t drift off,” said Olivia Heller. Other students also found it challenging to pay attention during virtual lessons last year, especially due to the lack of moderation that came with learning through a screen. “I think I’ve been doing really well with it. Physically going to class has definitely helped me memorize my schedule, I just need to work more on time management,” Miranda Huhn stated. With students having less time in the day and schoolwork picking back up in intensity again, several people stated that they have found that they have to learn how to appropriately budget their time outside of school.

A lot of people struggled with having to learn virtually last year, with it being especially difficult for freshmen who had to transition to a new school at the same time. “There were a lot of different things happening at once, so I didn’t get a normal switch from middle school to high school,” said Brynn Buckley. She also said that she enjoyed being able to see other students in school again. “It made it a lot harder to focus and learn how high school works, and it really feels like it didn’t exist as an actual school year,” said Jackson Corbett. Many students found themselves struggling with academics last year, and sophomores did not have the acclimation to Wayne Hills that they typically would get in freshman year.

Some people preferred certain things that came with virtual learning, with others finding no benefit in learning from home.

“I definitely prefer the shorter days. With full day school I have a hard time getting my homework done after practice and trying to get a good night sleep. I personally perform better in school when I have a good night’s rest as opposed to my regular 5 hours of sleep per night,” said Olivia Heller. Other people have echoed this viewpoint, showing frustration at the early start time of the Wayne high schools and having to wake up earlier as a result.

However, some people viewed the shorter days as irrelevant or harmful to their learning. “Everything was just messy last year at best, it’s far better to just stay in person,” said Matty Anevski. Even though many students enjoyed having extra time in their days, being in person has appeared to be benefiting most students.

While most students preferred being back in school to learning virtually, some had concerns about how the school district has been performing the change in learning. “It is a bit scary with the amount of kids and the way the district is pretty much just shoving everyone into this environment with nothing to keep us up, but I don’t blame them. This is not something anyone had thoughts on beforehand,” said Jackson Corbett. With the pressure from some parents to return their children to fully in-person learning intensifying over the past school year, the Wayne Board of Education was determined to ensure that all students would be in the classroom this school year. 

Other students attempted to look at the more positive sides of the change. “Considering everything it’s not that bad, with heavy force put in the mask mandate, while also letting us take off our masks outside and having a large majority of students attend the school full time,” said Matty Anevski. With COVID still being a risk through this school year, many people are continuing to take precautions to prevent a return to virtual learning.

Many sophomores were optimistic about what this school year would hold.

“I think it will be more challenging than freshman year but I also think I will learn more. Also, it’s been a lot more fun with marching band and other activities,” said Miranda Huhn. A lot of extracurricular activities were limited or cancelled last year, and the change back to the activity of previous years has excited many students. “I think it’s still going to be a little weird getting used to high school on top of getting used to being back in person,” said Brynn Buckley. As students had many negative experiences with distance learning, many people are hopeful that this school year will be better.

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