The Impact of COVID-19: Freshman Year

Samantha Brown and Gabrielle Wolin

With the world around us shaking, Morristown-Beard has provided unexpected stability for the new freshman class. Although transitioning to high school in the midst of a pandemic was far from ideal, the freshman class was able to fare better than most as a result of MBS’  meticulously planned school year dedicated to ensure both our physical and mental health. Speaking on account of all the freshmen at MBS, we feel extremely lucky to be here rather than any other school during this pandemic as we have had to forfeit exceptionally little of our freshman experience compared to other students around the country. 

Samantha Brown ‘24

Limited socializing and connecting with others was one of the greatest frustrations I have faced during my transition to high school. Even though I had come from the MBS middle school and already knew a good deal of my classmates, not being able to congregate in the halls, joke around at lunch or even simply sit close to other students felt unnatural and lonely. For the first month or so, I felt quite foreign and the isolation of the pandemic began to feel like an uncomfortable itch tantalizingly close to a scratch. However, as clubs, sports and other extracurriculars came into play, it became easier to socialize and make new friends. The difficulty involved in socializing means that the friendships I did make are much more genuine and reciprocal than what I may have ended up with otherwise. Additionally, I have become very close to the people in my advisory. After eating lunch with these 12 people each day, I feel much more connected with them than I had with my previous advisories in middle school. 

I am confident that as time progresses, things will only get better at Morristown-Beard.”

As we, hopefully, approach the pandemic’s end, I see I have had to learn a lot about myself in order to thrive during this time. Embracing the positive aspects within my limited form of life right now has been a staple in working through any rough patches the pandemic may have thrown down. It has allowed me to quit wallowing in self pity and take advantage of opportunities Morristown-Beard has worked hard to provide for us. With positive thinking working alongside the school’s massive effort to create opportunities in a world of few,  I have managed to pick up more in-school extracurriculars than ever before and I am making a stronger effort to use the school’s resources to their entirety. This brings hope to my classmates and me who are genuinely enjoying our freshman year. I am confident that as time progresses, things will only get better at Morristown-Beard. 

Gabrielle Wolin ‘24

The most strenuous parts about entering high school during the pandemic would fall under multiple aspects and events. For starters, I have gone to my town’s public school system for my entire life where I went to school the same set of 250 students all since kindergarten. The transition from my previously repetitive school life to Morristown-Beard was like night and day as I was clicking the restart button on both my social and my academic life. The pandemic limited interactions that were critical  to starting new friendships as everyone would be divided and in poor spirit due to the underlying circumstances. It gets complicated when we have to go virtual as we don’t have the in-person interaction with our peers and friends, so it can be difficult to stay in touch. I have found that using iMessage or another social media platform, whether you’re in person or virtual, helps when we have to transition back and forth as you’re still communicating with your friends the same way, you’re just not physically on campus. The communication and guidance from our teachers helps make the virtual learning not as stressful as it could be. However, being at school in person at the beginning of the year allowed us to get familiar with the layout of the campus in addition to having meaningful interactions with both our teachers and peers. 

Initially I found it difficult to concentrate during online classes as they seemed so optional when they’re definitely, definitely not…”

While I have discovered over the past semester that the pandemic has only driven my motivation to succeed in my studies, others find that this situation breaks them down instead. My motivation is primarily due to the fact that I know that the outcome of the persistent studies will only have a positive impact on my health in the long run. In addition, due to the pandemic, the amount of free time to loosen up and complete my studies has doubled, maybe tripled! This is because all of the outside extracurricular activities that once clogged my schedule have been canceled, creating time to meet with teachers and stay on top of our work. This extra time has led me to develop many new skills that I probably would’ve never learned.

Initially I found it difficult to concentrate during online classes as they seemed so optional when they’re definitely, definitely not, and it took a toll on my mental and physical health. Over time I was able to build new skills to counteract these problems so that I could thrive in school both virtually and in person. I took the steps necessary to stop procrastinating altogether and became more involved in class discussions to further develop my understanding of the material. By doing this I not only removed procrastination from my life altogether, I also connected myself with the Morristown-Beard community through the SGA, sports, and various clubs and activities that can still be held in a virtual environment.

Taking a look back at how far the freshman class has come, I have high hopes for our high school experience once the pandemic is over. Of course it will have to happen in stages to ensure the safety of our community, but what I am most looking forward to is the social aspects of MBS that have been absent because of COVID-19. Most of the student areas will reopen, the fluidity of the daily schedule will resume, and students will finally be able to connect with each other to truly experience high school to the fullest. The masks and plexiglass aren’t a huge deal: they just create this stigma and boundary that reduces the social aspects of daily school life.