Students reflect on “back-to-normal” year


photo by Ella Gray

Ella Gray

In the first as close to “normal” year back, the school year has been different from the start. There have been definite highlights and lowlights from having sports and clubs restarting to uncertain mask mandates. As someone in their first year of high school, I do not know what a regular year looks like, but neither do people who are one and two years older than me. Trenna Carlson, class of 2025, Isamar Lopez-De La Cruz, class of 2024, and Kaci Hunter, class of 2023 gave their opinions on how they think the year went. 

On a scale from one to ten (ten being the best), the three students gave an average score of 7.5/10 for the school year. 

What many people were excited about were sports being able to start back up. Last year, not many sports and clubs were able to happen, so many people were excited to experience them again. 

“I was really excited because I like most of the people on the team so seeing them play is fun,” said Lopez-De La Cruz.  

Another tradition was able to start back up again, the senior versus staff basketball game. Originally just for the seniors, Jim Parker, principal, changed it to the entire school a few days leading up to the game. On Wednesday, May 11, the game took place, with over one thousand people gathered in the main gym. Filled with a halftime performance from the dance and cheer teams, hilarious teachers and school spirit, the past tradition was back and better than ever. 

“It was interesting especially when [Greg] Fiorucci, [engineering teacher] was on the court, it was very entertaining,” said Carlson. 

With many fun traditions returning, we have also seen an issue with some people not knowing how to resolve conflicts without physical confrontation. It is almost like we are a year younger because we were kept home and could not interact with anyone. Some students are unable to express their anger, so they resort to fighting, which is a direct result of remote learning. The number of fights we have seen has definitely increased in previous years, according to Katherine Plessner, school counselor. 

“Probably [seen] like 6 [fights] at the least,” said Hunter. 

Although fights have increased, it has not seemed to affect the on-track to graduate rate. We still have some work left to continue the rising percentage, but the rates have shown promising results. 

“Before COVID-19, our freshmen were at 59% [on track], now we’re at 70%,” said Plessner. 

As a result of COVID-19, mask mandates have been unstable, as well as the opinions on masks. When masks were supposed to be worn, not everyone was wearing them, so some students have felt as though nothing has changed when masks became optional. 

“Not everyone was wearing a mask anyway, [so] it wasn’t really a big change,” said Carlson. 

A positive outcome of masks becoming optional was many more open up if they weren’t wearing a mask.

“I feel like people talk more when they don’t have to wear [a mask],” said Carlson. 

Despite COVID-19, regulations and restrictions, students still managed to have a good year. After being online, it was good to be able to interact with others in the first full-time year since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’re back in person so it’s not like we’re half online and half in person and a lot more people come and socialize,” said Lopez. 

In the last few months left of school, many students have begun focusing on their oncoming years. Freshman are getting ready for their second year in high school and juniors are getting ready for their final year at East. 

While opinions for the next year are mixed, many students seem excited. 

“I just don’t have any AP classes so I’m not scared about my classes being hard and I have good friends,” said Carlson. 

When asked if she’s nervous for next year, Hunter responded, “Yes, it’s my last year so I feel like I really gotta start preparing for college. I really only have one year left,”

Many sophomores are preparing for the so-called “hardest year of their high school career,” their junior year. Among the SAT prep courses, looking at colleges and extracurriculars, there is much to be excited about. 

“I’m excited [because] I’m almost gonna be graduating,” said De-La Cruz. 

Overall, the year seemed to be much better than last, but we still have a long way to go before we reach normal once again.