How Juniors are Being Affected by the Pandemic

Scarlet Fetterolf, Staff Reporter

Ryann Israel knows firsthand that juniors have a lot to juggle. This year, they have a unique set of difficulties to overcome, putting an even greater strain on their relationships, grades and mental health.

Junior Ryann Israel has revisited some of her priorities this year while also taking challenging classes. Even though this is a lot to balance, her efforts have paid off. 

“During this year I have really tried to focus on my mental health, as I realize that it is practically the foundation for a good and healthy school year,” Israel said. “I have been trying to obtain a better sleep schedule when possible, but I do realize sometimes I slip up. I chose to push myself academically this year, which has been quite hard but at the same time rewarding which is extremely important.”

Through the year, Israel has kept up her grades consistently. However, she notes that this presented a new set of challenges. 

“From the grades aspect of things, they are about the same,” Israel said. “One part that I have realized is that I just have a harder time absorbing lessons and new material, which doesn’t make it impossible—just difficult.”

Junior Laura Stark has also managed her grades well throughout the pandemic. 

“Honestly, distance learning hasn’t caused a visible difference between my grades prior to COVID-19 and my grades currently,” Stark said.

Despite being a good student, Israel admits that when it comes to standardized testing and college applications, she feels as if she was thrown in the deep end and told to swim. 

“For standardized testing, it has been hard during this time. Already being an oldest child means this is new territory for my parents and I, but also due to the pandemic it has been difficult,” Israel said. “It can be hard at times to really sense if you’re doing things right or if you’re on the right track for college. All of this can get very overwhelming quite quickly for many.” 

Junior James Elko finds that he relies on technology to prepare him for standardized tests. 

“Distance learning has made it harder to prepare for standardized tests but with our advanced technology these days a bunch of websites have practice tests which are awesome,” he said.

The pandemic has also impacted students’ relationships with teachers. 

“Distance learning has made it harder to create a special bond with teachers because it is hard to have interactions with them outside of class,” Elko said. “But typing something funny in the chat or microphoning in to make a funny remark has definitely made it easier to still have fun.” 

Israel’s experience with cultivating relationships with teachers is similar to Elko’s. 

“I have become closer with some teachers while other teachers I have yet to really connect with,” Israel said. “The virtual aspect too. It really just affects teachers’ abilities to connect with students differently so it has been interesting to see it play out.” 

In addition to changing relationships, juniors have had to deal with an increased strain on their mental health. 

Stark notes that while distance learning has added stress to her life and her schoolwork, she still finds ways to cope and get herself back on track. 

“Learning completely online hasn’t impacted my mental health in the best of ways. Since I’m a junior, I’ve been buried in work and have had to get really good at organizing my time really quickly,” Stark said. “Taking breaks when I’m beginning to stress too much and setting aside time to get up and away from all of the screens seems to be helpful.”

Despite the additional challenges faced by juniors, Israel finds that her experience this year has been positive, and some of the stressors of in-person school causes have melted away. 

“I have realized it [online school] has decreased immense amounts of anxiety for me that in-person school would trigger on the daily,” Israel said. “This would mainly include presenting in front of class, walking to a chair on the other side of a classroom, or even simple tasks like sharpening a pencil or grabbing a tissue. Yes, learning virtually may not be perfect, but it is the current best choice.”