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Incoming Freshmen Stressed About Uncertain Future

By Alisha Ahmed and Eva Mandelbaum

Imagine going to school with a mask and having to stay six feet away from everyone. Seems crazy, right? Well, this might be how White Plains High School will look for incoming freshmen and upperclassmen this September. The teachers and students have been overwhelmed by stressful thoughts about next year. What’s going to happen to sports and clubs? How are we going to all fit in the cafeteria? Can we socially distance in the hallways and bathrooms? There are so many unanswered questions.

One thing is for sure: school is going to start differently. It is not going to start the way we are used to. Before freaking out, remember that everyone is in the same boat. Things could be worse, and thankfully we have amazing and supportive teachers that are working so diligently to help us get through these hard times. These unfortunate circumstances will pass eventually; we have to keep on pushing.

While there is already tension about going to school during a pandemic, freshmen have the additional stress and anxiety of starting their first day of high school. There is the concern about being late and getting lost in the building. Will I get detention if I’m late? How will I find my classes in such a big school in just five minutes? These are just a handful of worries incoming freshmen have. There is still the topic of clubs and sports and, of course, getting overwhelmed with the idea of too much homework.

There is so much trauma right now, but the high school principal, Mrs. Doherty, was able to offer some words of support. She has been extremely supportive during these times. We were able to get in touch with her, and Mrs.Doherty shared her predictions and encouragement. She shared with us that no one knows what is definite, and it all depends on the course of the virus. Her thoughts about going back to school is that distance learning has already changed our schools. She says, “What we’ve learned will undoubtedly inform instruction moving forward, in the ways we incorporate technology in our planning, as well as the way we use learning management systems such as Schoology.” She believes technology is going to be very common for learning next year. Lastly, her words of encouragement are “We are a strong, vibrant learning community. Tigers are fierce, brave, and beautiful. We care for ourselves when we care for each other. We will get through this time together and we will come back stronger than ever.”

Although we are living in unprecedented times, and this is a new experience for all of us, we are living connected and united because of technology and our responsive school district. So, although it seems scary for not only incoming freshmen this coming fall, but for everyone, there are many small and big ways to reach out for help. Whether you find reading articles and learning more about the virus or reaching out to your school psychologist or guidance counselor more helpful during these times, something different works for everyone.

A good example of everyone helping one another during these times is that some amazing high schoolers at WPHS are tutoring students who need help with at-home/virtual learning through a program they started. It’s as simple as clicking on to get the specific help you need with your schoolwork. There are many skilled high school tutors to help with various subjects to meet your needs, answer any questions, and generally assist you with anything during these tough times. These tutors are here to help all students in the district, but this might be especially helpful to incoming freshmen with worries and stresses about next year. These students are giving up their own time to reach out and help, which is a prime example of the acts of kindness coming out of the current situation. On top of this, there are always teachers and guidance counselors rooting you on, only an email away.

Difficult does not even begin to describe these times but we are in this fight together and will get through this together. Everyone, especially incoming freshmen, are scared about our uncertain, undetermined future, but nothing is certain at the moment. A different learning environment for the 2020-2021 school year is almost inevitable. Things will be changed and it’s normal to be scared about these changes. We just do not know for sure what these changes will look like. As responsive and amazing our district can be, the future is one of the things that we simply do not know. What we do know though, is how we can stay the strong; fierce tigers we are. Continue reaching out for help and taking advantage of all the resources our district has to offer. Continue following proper social distancing rules and measures, and listening to the rules in place and our leaders. As long as we continue “standing together by staying apart,” as White Plains Mayor Tom Roach says, this too shall pass.

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