Reflecting on the Past Three Years


Smiles all around at the Freshman Banquet as students dance and enjoy the opportunity to be mask-free.

Katie Troske, Features Editor

This school year, the Mid-Pacific community finally completed the transition into a restriction-free world. Masks were removed, gatherings were held and high school feels normal again— now we’re left to reflect on how the last few years have shaped us.

After nearly three years of living amidst the pandemic, there’s no doubt about it: our world has massively changed, and the effect that COVID had on our lives is undeniable.

“It’s like a rubber band,” Jessie Mitchell, on-campus HCCF clinician, said. “The pandemic stretched most of us. For many, when it’s over, the rubber band will just go back— but there’s a percentage of people that the pandemic will break. There are going to be some that are permanently impacted.”

The lack of student events and activities created a drift in teenagers and halted their ability to get to know their peers deeper than through a screen or behind a mask. Many found it difficult to make connections with those around them during the pandemic.

Freshmen at the Fall Picnic play a game to compete for their class without any social distancing restrictions.

“There’s kind of a disconnect when people are wearing masks and you’re standing far apart. It’s just a little harder to get that bond you’re supposed to get in high school,” junior Sydney Woolley said.

For many students, the mask mandate dropping in September was the first step towards returning to a normal year and having a traditional high school experience. COVID has also allowed us to appreciate the small things that were stopped during the pandemic.

“I feel like one of the best parts is seeing everyone’s face. I have friends that I’ve known for three years, and I’m just now seeing their faces. Sometimes I even look around and I’m like, ‘Wow, everyone is so pretty, and everyone’s smiling’,” Woolley said.

The lack of in-person connection is still having an effect on teenagers, and the consequences are showing themselves in the way students interact with those around them.

“In the scope of things, practice was lost. Practice in terms of relationships. Practice dealing with group work, people not doing their share of the work, practice with people that say obnoxious things. Because when you go off to college or work, those things will happen, but they’re going to impact you less if you have a lot of practice,” Mitchell said.

Staying safe and healthy during the pandemic also meant losing traditional activities that were a large part of high school and helped kids build bonds with their classmates.

“Anything that allowed kids to socialize and get in close proximity to each other was put on hold, so we had to pivot and adjust. Even though we were able to do some things, they were really abbreviated and restricted,” Bill Wheeler, Director of Student Activities, said.

Now that our world is making the shift back to “normal”, many teens are grateful for the opportunities to have these experiences once again.

“Looking at freshman and even sophomore year with masks and social distancing, I didn’t get the full high school experience. I feel like this was my first real high school year. It feels like I’m at school, like I can do things. I see people, there are social events. It makes it so much more enjoyable and engaging,” Woolley said.

While certain experiences were changed by the pandemic, it also gave many students a new perspective on their life.

“As a senior, I don’t feel like I missed opportunities, rather I got certain opportunities that never would have happened had it not been for the pandemic,” senior Maddie Ibara said.

Junior and Senior students get together at their restriction-free prom and dance in close proximity.

The pandemic affected nearly every aspect of our lives, but students choose to take those lessons with them as they move forward in their lives.

“I would say I learned how to adapt fast. I also learned how to make use of time and that I am capable of learning new things everyday,” Ibara said.

The traditional high school experience is valuable to a teenager’s life, and the pandemic threatened that, yet many were able to push through and find new ways to make memories.

“For individuals, it made them more resilient and adaptive. You solved a problem, you made your own fun and you still found a way to be a teenager,” Mitchell said.