Mitty’s Freshmen: Starting High School without Going to High School

Being a new student at a large school comes with inevitable challenges, but distance-learning has created added obstacles to overcome. The following are a few perspectives into the unique experience of becoming a freshman at Mitty during a pandemic.



On Nerves

Tebin Kim says interactions aren’t “particularly difficult, but whatever relationship resembling friendship I can build in a 15-minute breakout room feels very isolated to that specific class.”

As the year started, Tebin Kim recalls how the jitters the night before the first day of school doesn’t really apply to me personally because I’m more or less the opposite of an insomniac. The moment my head hits the pillow, it is immediately lights out –– no chance for worrying. That being said, I think my nervous-excitedness in the week or so leading up to the first day of school was definitely more acute than what you would normally expect. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to engage in physical interaction was more nerve-wracking than reassuring.” This appears to be a shared freshman experience, as Zain Aslam notes how he “was just as excited and jittery for online school as I would be for in-person classes. Although there was no school in person, we still had to show our faces and get to know new teachers and classmates.”


On Finding Mitty Spirit

Not all experiences have remained the same online. As Anderson Walker explains, “Because of Zoom, it is difficult to engage with the Mitty spirit, but I do appreciate all of the efforts made by our student government and ASB to try to get us excited to learn and communicate with one another. Certain students will just roll their eyes when hearing that we are having ‘experiences’ over Zoom, but with events like rallies, dances, and other entertaining activities during homeroom, it has definitely been exciting to participate.” The upperclassmen who have had a taste of Mitty’s unique spirit have been able to share their experiences to reassure underclassmen. Zain recalls that “in homeroom, the senior representatives have told us about Mitty’s unmatched enthusiasm, and I can’t wait to experience it on campus. I also joined the baseball team where Coach Yocke gave us the chance to interact with other baseball players. The seniors told me that the spirit during the season is unreal.” While freshmen have some idea of what spirit experiences look like, Anderson notes how there is still much to anticipate: “I really want to experience going to football games and spirit events with my peers. I’d love to have the craziest times cheering on my classmates at games.”


On Making Friends

As Kailie DeGuzman describes, making friendships through the screen has been one of the biggest challenges. She “followed a lot of people in the freshman class on social media, knowing that would most likely be the easiest way to make a

Anderson Walker says that “certain students will just roll their eyes when hearing that we are having ‘experiences’ over Zoom, but it has definitely been exciting to participate.”

friend considering the circumstances. Some of the people I became friends with on social media ended up in my breakout rooms so I definitely got the chance to talk to them and get to know them better.”

Alexandra Coleman has also taken advantage of social media, explaining, “I have made a couple of friends. I started by asking for their Snap, and I started to reach out to them and ask about their hobbies. We began talking more and more, and now we talk every day.”

While breakout rooms are arguably one of the most awkward experiences of the pandemic, Anderson has been grateful for his teachers’ attempts at catalyzing interaction between students:  “Although breakout rooms aren’t the most fun and engaging of ways to get to know people, I do appreciate the teacher’s constant attempts to have us introduce ourselves to one another. I have been able to make friendships through such breakout rooms, having found common interests with them which sets the conversation in a positive direction.” 

Tebin has had a slightly different experience, elaborating, “Aside from the usual awkwardness that is generally expected during the first few weeks of school, I don’t think that interactions themselves have become particularly difficult. But I do think that whatever relationship resembling friendship I can build up during 15-minute breakout room sessions does feel very isolated to that specific class.”


On Getting Involved

One way students have been looking to engage with other classmates is through extracurricular activities. As Tebin comments, “Getting involved is a matter of clicking on links and going to Zoom meetings. It has taken a bit more effort to keep track of everything like meeting times and application due dates though. I’ve specifically started to get involved in Cornerstone, athletics (cross country), and student government.”


On Learning

Zain Aslam “joined the baseball team where Coach Yocke gave us the chance to interact with other baseball players. The seniors told me that the spirit during the season is unreal.”

There have been some unique benefits to distance learning. Zain touches on how “one positive thing is that teachers let us do independent work based on pre-recorded lectures. This can be very helpful because each student can work at their own pace, which actually benefits me a lot.” Tebin notes that “it’s also been nice to feel like I’m still learning and progressing through my class despite being at home all day. However, the Zoom fatigue during the first few days was difficult.” But Anderson still misses the little, normally overlooked parts of the day, “which include going to various locations for classes instead of one single desk, interacting with fellow students in between classes and during lunch, and learning next to my classmates and teachers.”


Making Memories

No matter the type of learning, whether virtual or on-campus, there will always be a fair share of funny mishaps and experiences. Zain reminisces on “a practice debate in Speech and Debate, where my classmates and I discussed the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. ” Alexandra remembers how “my friend texted me one time in class. We were taking roll, and my iPad fell right after I unmuted. It was the funniest thing, and the teacher just stared at me and my friend. I could not stop laughing—my face turned bright red.”