The Second Freshman Class

Natasha Aragon and Ryleigh Bernhardt

Sophomores are expected to be the leading example for freshmen: they’ve learned the school, understand the rules and overall have a “sophomore” mindset. But what happens when sophomores were mostly online for their freshmen year? How does that change the dynamics of both the school and a student’s mindset? 

Feeling lost and struggling with school is something that all sophomores have in common this year. Being online, stuck in their rooms all day for a whole year has not only caused their social lives to diminish but their grades as well. The lack of motivation and willpower to actually pay attention and go to class last year has caught up to them. 

Results from a survey distributed to sophomores show that 60.4% of sophomores feel as though being online for freshmen year has impacted their transition from middle school to highschool. Not only has it made high school harder in general but it has stopped those that are now sophomores from social interaction, participating in school activities, working hard for school, making an effective school routine and simply being prepared for their sophomore year. A big part of being online freshman year is students’ perspectives on mental health, social life, grades, relationships, etc. With this in mind students have been talking about having difficulty focusing for long periods of time, a negative impact on mental health, losing valuable relationships, not knowing information taught during freshman year, grades being impacted both negatively or positively, along with having low standards for both themselves and teachers when it comes to academic ability. Overall there is a horrible impact on students’ mental health, social life, and academic life. 

Sophomore Andrea Martinez knows both the struggles and benefits of being online for most of her freshman year. 

Maritinez said, “It felt like a continuation of 8th grade. We didn’t really get, you know our coming back, you know we didn’t get an explanation on how classes are and where the buildings were.” 

Having a “sophomore” mindset is hard to obtain when you feel as though you’re still in middle school. Not only is their mindset different but their academic level isn’t where they want to be. With school being online students felt as though they were teaching themselves. Achieving greatness is impossible to do when feeling entirely alone and having to teach yourself. It’s as though all sophomores are one year behind from where they should and wish to be. So, what are teachers doing to help with this and how has it affected teacher and student dynamics? 

Understandably, teachers are also struggling with this transition. Students being behind in both mentality and behavior has affected the way teachers teach. 

Those in Standard level classes are happy to be back and appreciate that work is easier to complete in person than online… for my GT students, they are getting ‘woken up’ to the true level of work and the expectations of quality now that we are back in school.” Said Alicia Drechsler, a teacher for GT and Standard English. 

The vast majority of teachers are seeing a significant change in their Sohpomore’s behavior and performance. After facing an attendance problem due to online school Drechsler hoped for participation and genuine interest in her class with the transition to in-person. However, teachers this year are instead faced with the challenge of having their students in a younger mindset. 

“All of the sudden you are thrown into AP courses, you know some kids didn’t know how to take scantron tests. Some kids don’t know how to take notes, so it’s like things that I never thought I would have to teach because I’ve always taught high school.” Said Velten, a teacher for both standard and AP World History and Military History. 

Although dealing with this struggle period will surely take a lot of time, many teachers have high hopes and plans for helping this transition be less dreadful. A core belief of Velten is that success is achieved over time. Hence, to make this transition easier for not only his AP students but also his standard classes, progress is more important than perfection. 

“It doesn’t need to be perfect, you just have to get better at the next one; and the one after that, the one after that, and so on,” said Velten.

Despite feeling astray, everyone in the building is trying their best to move forward. Many sophomores are feeling alone and isolated despite being surrounded by many people. It’s something students will learn to grow from, and it’s a feeling that will go away.