How COVID-19 Has Changed Freshman Year

Josie Mackenthun, Online Editor

This school year has been dramatically reshaped for students and staff alike, but as freshmen are new to the building, it is no surprise that this year’s newcomers have endured even more drastic changes than most. Many activities that encourage student involvement had to be altered or canceled this year. While most older students can recall these events from other years, freshmen have no prior high school experience to draw from. Because of the diminished size and frequency of school events, many feel that freshmen may not develop the strong sense of community that comes from these all-school events.

 Ordinary rites of passage, such as the homecoming dance and sporting events, did not take place this fall, and interactions with upperclassmen have been limited. This has forced freshmen to fraternize in limited bubbles rather than with the school as a whole. One example is pep rallies, a rare moment where a majority of the student body congregates, and it often makes a powerful impression. “[It] was the first time I felt like I was in a high school and not drifting through middle school,” said Emma Houston, 12. “That is where I picked up on a lot of traditions.” She is concerned freshmen may be missing out on these traditions.

With some students still online and others social distancing in classrooms, many upperclassmen fear that freshmen will have “fewer connections and fewer chances to meet people,” said Jacob Praml, 11. 

While students are undoubtedly seeing fewer people than they usually would, this may have a positive effect. Freshman David Shields said these smaller classes brought him closer to people in his cohort as he was forced to make new friends.

Even this year, there are some things that stayed constant. Thomas Shields, 9, enjoyed more freedom to choose classes and extracurriculars— something incoming students have noted for years. While many sports looked different, the camaraderie brought about by extracurriculars still rings true. For many students, the friendship that accompanied many of their freshman year extracurriculars made a lasting impact on them as older students. Joseph Kingsriter, 11, recalls one of his favorite memories from high school was going to Fargo with the wrestling team as a freshman. Hopefully, this year’s freshmen will have similar fond memories, despite all the obstacles they have faced.