Freshmen Plunge into First Year of High School Virtually

Margot Gwynn and Nick Pickel

The transition from middle school to high school seems monumental to a recently graduated eighth grader. Being welcomed into a new school can cause uncertainty, doubt, anticipation, and excitement. Entering a new school virtually only heightens those emotions. So far, the Class of 2024 have only seen their classmates and teachers through Zoom calls, Flip Grid videos and Microsoft Teams meetings.

“My biggest wish is to sit in a real classroom with real people,” said Brooke Wilwerding ‘24.

The new freshmen understandably feel disconnected from Seattle Prep, only having spent one day on a ghost-like campus for orientation. “I feel like I am a part of the Prep community in a meaningful, but diluted way,” said Matthew Kennedy ‘24.

Aside from joining Prep without any direct academic connections, the new students’ main method of communication is online during class. “Sometimes, I feel like every student at Prep is on an island, each one close enough for us to speak with one-another, but not close enough for us to get to know each other properly,” said Kennedy about feeling isolated from other members of his class.

Aside from Zoom, social media and off-season athletic programs are other methods that Prep organized to link the new students together. Referencing cross country summer training and the speed and agility program, Wilwerding said “These have been great opportunities for me to meet other Prep Panthers and stay active.”

When asked if freshmen thought that Prep had properly prepared them for the transition to online school, the response was a resounding yes. Kennedy compared it to his experience with his old school where, “Once we were in school, everything was, to put it simply, messy.”

Maribel May ’24 said that now at Prep, “Once you get used to it, it’s all very organized.” Regarding relationships with faculty, she remarked, “I feel like it’s a lot harder to bond with your teachers while you’re on Zoom so, no, I haven’t gotten to know any of them very well yet.”

Contrasting that, William Huddleston ’24 offered sympathy and said, “I have gotten to know the teaching style of my teachers well. They are also getting used to this new teaching environment.”

Kennedy offered motivation and said “Zoom classes aren’t ideal, but thus far, we’ve all made it through all of the other challenges school has thrown at us over the years, so what’s to say we won’t make it through this?” The freshmen are in a unique position starting high school online, but their attitudes reflect optimism and understanding.