First year: freshmen adjust to a new school and new rules and regulations for in-person learning

Students+study+and+chat+with+one+another+in+Freshman+English+Humanities.+Incoming+freshmen+faced+new+challenges+as+they+began+the+school+year.

Charlize Gaudiello

Students study and chat with one another in Freshman English Humanities. Incoming freshmen faced new challenges as they began the school year.

Siena Usui, Staff Writer

This year, freshmen have to face one of the most unique circumstances in their lifetime, all the while adjusting as they transition into high school.

Students said they were able to eventually adapt to the new rules and regulations after returning to in-person learning. With face shields, arrow led pathways, and social distancing in place, there is a stark contrast to what campus looks like compared to the 2019 school year.

Freshmen shared their perspectives of how their high school experience has been so far.

“Expectations wise, it wasn’t too bad. I considered it [high school] to be really hard since everyone knows in high school it’s the definitive factor on if you’re going to get into a college,” said freshman Jake Hamadon.

Freshman Alana Haydu said she expected the workload and difficulty of high school. Yet arriving on the first day of school at home on a laptop/iPad was a first for many students.

“I guess what kind of threw me off was starting the year off virtually,” said Haydu.

The beginning of the 2020 school year started online for Mid-Pacific’s entire high school on Aug. 17.

“It was different because we were online so I had to put in more effort and ask more questions,” said freshman Jordan Amano-Mitsui.

On-campus learning later launched on Nov. 9 with freshmen arriving for orientation, and the rest of the high school having a staggered return throughout the rest of the week. All students were back on campus by Nov. 13.

There are some difficulties freshmen deal with as they continue to adjust to in-person classes.

“I’m so used to just going one way to class, but now you have to reroute and think about social distancing and what’s the safest way to get from one place to another without colliding,” said Haydu.

Getting closer to other students is another challenge with social distancing and masks. 53.1 percent of teenagers say COVID-19 has impacted their social life and that they have grown apart from some friends, according to a survey conducted by DKC Analytics.

The kids that were not at Mid-Pacific last year have been very isolated, and they haven’t had an opportunity to make friends as quickly as they would have during a non COVID-19 year”

— Jessie Mitchell

“The kids that were not at Mid-Pacific last year have been very isolated, and they haven’t had an opportunity to make friends as quickly as they would have during a non COVID-19 year,” said Hawaii Center for Children and Families counselor Jessie Mitchell.

Nevertheless, students are still trying their best to make connections with one another and reaching out to other classmates.

“I really enjoy meeting the new kids, and meeting new teachers is always fun. And if you have a teacher that you like, you can always go to them for answers or talk with them for a few minutes,” said Hamadon.

Several programs that freshmen are involved in have been adapting and changing because of COVID-19. One such program is MPX, which is focused more on project based learning.

“MPX is supposed to be a more hands on thing, so a lot of things that happened last year aren’t going this year,” said Amano-Mitsui.

One of their projects originally had plans to have students looking through microscopes. But, they were unable to do so because they can’t have their eyes touch a shared surface, said Amano-Mitsui.

Hamadon participates in cross country and shared his experience while practicing during COVID-19.

“We’re being monitored and making sure that we stay socially distanced while we’re running,” said Hamadon.

Some advice that Mitchell offers to the new freshmen is to talk to a trusted adult if they need help. She said that they can reach out to a favorite teacher, their dean, or their parents.

Lending a helping hand, freshmen students gave advice based on their own experiences to eighth graders about how to prepare for their transition to high school.

“I noticed that when I started taking classes more seriously—I got better grades, I understood the topics, and I had more room for questions,” said Amano-Mitsui.

Amano-Mitsui also said that even though it’s fun to hang out with friends and go on your phone in the back of the classroom, school is considerably important.

“Make sure you actually try. It makes sense why there’s so much pressure. Go to teachers for help, that’s a big thing that I struggled with. They want you to succeed, so ask your teachers for help when you need it,” said Hamadon.

High school can and will be difficult and overwhelming at times, but there will always be help available to you if you are struggling.

“We’re learning how to be problem solvers, we keep running into new situations that we’ve never had to deal with before. Nobody in the history of Mid-Pacific has ever faced before, and we’re figuring it out,” said Mitchell.