This year is a new experience for all of us. Similar to the end of last year we have to take our classes online with all social interaction between students and teachers being virtual. To many of us, this is less desirable than if we were in person, with the ability to interact with our teachers and friends and really get the feel of being part of a community. But what about new students that are coming in during this virtual school year? How are they fitting into the Northwest School community without the ability to socialize with students in person or getting a chance to meet their teachers outside of a virtual setting? I talked with some of these students to get an understanding of how this new school year has been for them.
The first student I spoke with preferred to remain anonymous. I asked them how the aspect of socializing at a new school is different this year than if it were in person. They said, “it’s been sort of difficult to reach out to students and other teachers, that being said, when I first got here the school did a good job of making it an easier transition.” My next question was what steps they have taken to try and connect with the school more. They said, “Some classes have created a space where it’s easy to make new friends but that just depends on the subject. And now that hybrid has started, it’s easier to make that connection in person and get that human interaction.” My last question was what made the transition to a new school during online learning the hardest. They said, “the fact that I wasn’t able to actually meet most of my grade before coming here made it more challenging to connect the rest of the year, and that lack of in person interaction provided a barrier.” After talking to this student it was clear that there were many challenges when it came to making that transition to a new school during a pandemic. Even with these challenges they were able to find positives from the situation with the help of the school community.
The second student I spoke with was Patxi E ‘24. Patxi is a 9th grader here at Northwest and this is his first year here. I asked him how the transition from his old school to NWS was and he said, “it was pretty easy even though I was a bit nervous at first. Northwest made it so that I could get a feel for the school and the community before actually starting online classes.” My next question was what the overall experience with online classes has been like for him. He responded, “it’s been alright so far, getting to know people and the teachers is more difficult since I can’t see them in person.” My final question for him was what one take away from this entire experience would be. He said, “probably the importance of human interaction and the difference being virtual can make when it comes to communication.” Patxi had a lot of great things to say and similar to the last student, even when faced with the challenges that Covid-19 and online learning has thrown at all of us, he was able to persevere and find a place in this community.
After speaking to both of these students, it is clear that they have similar experiences such as finding ways to communicate with teachers and getting to know their classmates. In these uncertain times we live in, it can be easy to lose sight of the small stuff that we used to take for granted. When school was in person and a new student was introduced to us, we would welcome them into the community and get to know them. With school being virtual all year—and now hybrid—we have to find a way to continue creating an inclusive environment for everyone.