Students new to district cope with change during COVID-19

     The first day of high school is difficult, especially if your first day is in a new district. It’s even more difficult during a pandemic. The first day at Highlands High School this year consisted of watching a live stream on YouTube from home and the first day of in-person schooling consisted of walking around a half-empty school full of faces covered by masks. 

      This year, students had to find their way around the school, meet new friends and teachers, and adjust to a new environment all in the midst of COVID-19, which hasn’t made these tasks any easier. At the beginning of the school year, school was online in non-traditional learning (NTI).

      “You couldn’t meet everyone in person on the first day of the school year, because we were in NTI for the first two weeks or so, so that was hard,” said

Freshman Maria Zechella came to Highlands from Saint Catherine and has adapted to a much larger school. (Anna McCoy)

who recently came to Highlands from St. Catherine of Sienna. 

     Zechella met most of her classmates in-person weeks after seeing them online for the first time, which she thought made the transition a bit more difficult. However, freshman Caroline Means, who came from St. Therese, thinks otherwise.

Freshman Caroline Means from Saint Therese has transitioned nicely, due to the help of the soccer team. (Anna McCoy)

      “I think [NTI] made [the transition] a little easier,” said Means. 

     Being online instead of at school helped Means ease into the transition. She got to experience what high school would be like virtually before she jumped into experiencing it in person. Even after starting in school, both Means and Zechella still had struggles.

     The hardest part of the transition for them was the size of the school. With so many more students, hallways, and opportunities, Highlands was harder to navigate than their prior schools. 

     “[Highlands is] just a lot bigger and [there are] a lot more people,” Zechella said.

     For junior Kelsey Adams, who came from Notre Dame Academy, meeting friends was the most challenging part of the transition.

Junior Kelsey Adams from Notre Dame has met new people through socializing with those around her, despite the differences due to the current pandemic.

     She explained what was most difficult, such as “having assigned seats and not being able to talk to people or do a bunch of group activities.”

     Adams disliked having to keep distance, both in and out of school.

      Making friends was easier for Means, though. A member of the soccer team, practices helped her meet new friends.

     Means said she made friends “through soccer mostly. From those people, I met more [friends].”

     Despite the current pandemic, new students are feeling more comfortable and confident at Highlands.