How Have AHS Students Fared During First Quarter?


RJ Stevenson

AHS students in the commons after first lunch.

RJ Stevenson, Editorial Board

Our lives are still far from normal, but returning to in-person this fall has had quite the effect on many students. After a quarter back in a traditional school setting, students are seeing improvements in their grades in addition to their physical, emotional, and mental health. With the new opportunities that this year brings, students are anticipating school events and activities. 


When asked about her experience with this change, sophomore Markiska Lebahn said, “I honestly think I’ve been thriving, more than in online school.” 


Reflecting on the past year, a vast amount of students seemed to experience higher levels of distress in accompaniment to their greater in-school struggles. It was not just grades that were impacted, but student health as well. “I’m a lot happier. I was really depressed when we were online, for multiple different reasons, and I got really bad burn out near the end,” said junior, Nemo Paulson. 


Once back at school, Paulson’s grade shot up to nearly straight A’s, showing just how much of an impact the transfer from distance learning to in-person had on some students. “I feel like my brain is finally working again,” said senior Anna Dodd. “The only thing that’s been difficult has been the social aspect, and just kind of getting into the flow of being around people all the time again.” 


Even with better academic performance, many of us are still dealing with other issues due to quarantine, as lack of in-person interaction has caused a social disconnect for many of us. Nonetheless, students are excited to be back to doing in-school and extracurricular activities, as well as being able to spend time with their friends. “I am excited to be joining clubs,” said freshman Makenzie Moff, “I’m in drama club and writers club.” 


Paulson stated similar feelings about being able to participate in school productions again. “I was really anticipating crew, and now that were in crew, it’s the only thing that’s made, like, my in school experience feel more normal,” said Paulson. 


Beyond that, the freshman and senior classes have the opportunity to begin, and end their high school careers with a semi-normal year. “I’m just glad I get to start high school, sort of, more normal than last year was,” said Moff. 


Unlike last year, the current freshmen were able to start their school year in-person, able to interact with their teachers and other students. At the other end of the spectrum, the seniors will get to participate in senior events and spend their last year of high school with each other, unlike the last two graduating classes. “It’s senior year, and I’m happy to be around people,” said Dodd. “This is our last time ever gonna be around each other.” 


Unfortunately, the start of this year hasn’t just been a social catch-up period. Students have continued to struggle with mental health. An issue exacerbated by the sudden disappearance of their supports from quarantine. “I think that when we were online, teachers had a lot more leniency for mental health, and I don’t think that we have that same kind of like, acceptance for mental health,” said Paulson. “Kids are still going through a hard time.” 


Both Paulson and Dodd expressed a continuous struggle with mental health, with Dodd describing an increase of anxiety in her daily life. “It’s been difficult. I have like, a lot of anxiety, and so that definitely has affected it,” said Dodd. “I get more anxious throughout my days being here.” 


This issue of a removal of support spans beyond students to even the school staff and administration. We had a transfer back to a somewhat normal setting, but our support from the previous situation did not transfer with us, leaving many in a vacuum without the needed support. 


On the other hand, a positive of at home school was the increased time for oneself and to bond with family. “I was in the comfort of my own home,” said Labahn. “Honestly, it was nice being at home with my family. It’s the most I had spent time with them, and I feel like I made stronger connections.” 


Many of us don’t get to spend enough time with our family, and in many cases, being home everyday allowed families to grow together and strengthen their relationships. Additionally, we all had more time to spend on ourselves.“I miss my routine in the morning, and getting ready for school,” said Dodd. “It was kinda a little bit more relaxed.”


A year at home has given many of us time for self care, and reflection. “Being in online school gave me a chance to reflect on myself I guess, and like see who I was,” said Labahn. “I came back to in-person, and it was a big change from who I was in middle school to who I was in tenth grade.” 


Such developments are even noticeable to others. “I think a big relevant part is like, going back to school when our last full year was freshman year, to going to senior year, you kinda see how some people have used the time to develop, where others haven’t,” said Dodd. 


The main takeaway from this whole online to in-person school experience is how much our environment affects us, and the importance of cultivating a space in which we can be happy and healthy, but even with this positive change, we still have a long way to go. As Dodd said, “just getting to experience life, somewhat normal,” is something we’re all grateful for.