Freshman Year During Distance Learning: How to Feel Truly a Part of the Roosevelt Community


Camryn French, Photo Editor

Starting off high school at a brand new school as a freshman is hard for anyone, but especially the Class of 2024 who had to start their ninth grade year online. Unlike the other grades currently at Roosevelt, they’ve never been to the school. They’ve never had the experience of spirit week, dressing up for each day, taking pictures with friends in their outfits, participating in class color day and repping their color, or watching the pep rally performance. They’ve never had the experience of rushing to class, or even walking down the hallway. Those who have been freshmen can relate to the feeling of anxiety the week before that only grows as the days progress. They didn’t get to experience that awkward first week of school, adjusting from middle school to high school, being the new students in the building, making new friends, and acquiring their school/class spirit. Therefore, ninth grade students this year may not feel the same connection to our school as the other grades do. 

Prince George’s County announced on Wednesday, July 15th, their reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year. The county explained that there would be distance learning for the first semester of school and a decision would be made in January 2021 regarding reopening plans for the rest of the school year. When freshman Christiana Alapa was told that she would be starting her freshman year online she felt “nervous and curious to see how it will all play out and what we might expect.” Just like Alapa, it would prove to be an adjustment for other freshmen at Roosevelt as well. 

Since this is a year like no other, it is even harder for freshmen students to feel a connection to ERHS and adjust to the demands of high school. Alapa said in regards to starting her 9th grade year online, “First it was awkward and I felt a bit nervous because I didn’t have people I knew in my class but that was a good opportunity to meet new people.” She also added that when it comes to making new friends through distance learning, “It’s a bit harder because you don’t really know them like that and you have to be open and talk to people.” In school, a side conversation with a neighbor during class could turn into a great friendship. During distance learning, side conversations are almost eliminated. 

When freshman Rosa Marshall was asked about making friends during distance learning, she said, “Yeah, being in a virtual class with no social time is definitely hard. I think that by going back we’ll be able to make those connections, but for now unless you knew someone before, you’re not going to have too many friends in a class.” 

Friendships and social connections made freshman year a whole lot easier and way more fun for the following upperclassmen. Looking back on her ninth grade year, junior Victoria Rush was able to meet “some really awesome people and get a feel of what was fun by going to events and joining clubs.” When asked if she could’ve done anything to feel more a part of the school in ninth grade, she said “I could have been a lot more integrated if I talked more. Because of the friends I’ve made, I’m bolder and if I had that same energy back in freshman year I think I would have known a lot more people.” 

When junior Tien Coney looked back on his freshman year, he said “It wasn’t too bad, it was mostly underwhelming. It was bland and I thought it would be more interesting.” He added “I didn’t feel like I fit in with the other students. I think I could’ve been more social and gotten to know more people.”

 Senior Amanda Schroeder said that in regards to her ninth grade year, “I didn’t join many clubs back then because I didn’t know about many, so all my friendships came from my classes.” She then added, “I started joining more clubs my sophomore year, and that’s when I started to feel more connected to the school and when I formed the most friendships.” 

When asking the upperclassmen students if they had any advice for freshmen this year that have to adjust during distance learning, a lot of students recommended branching out. Coney responded with the phrase “Don’t be too shy, be a social butterfly.” Rush recommended that “When you get the assignment act like it’s due that day or in the next couple of days so you can get it done and out the way.” Less procrastination leads to less stress and more time to have fun and meet new people. Schroeder mentioned ways for freshmen to get involved with the school and the importance of doing so when she said “This year, we’re trying to make it easier for freshmen to know about clubs (like club fairs), so they should definitely take advantage of that and join as many clubs as they want. It’s a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and take a break from school work.”

Now is the perfect time to get involved with your new school than ever before, especially freshmen students who are missing out on the social aspect of high school. In a time when it’s twice as hard to be a high school freshman, joining clubs is a great way to really put yourself out there. Students can find clubs by searching through their emails, as many club leaders and sponsors use their PGCPS email as a way to spread information about interest meetings, or details about their clubs in general. There are many clubs to currently choose from like TLC, GIT Club, Youth for Social Reform, SADD, Chinese Club, Astronomy Club, Future Healthcare Professionals, Journalism Club, Book Club, FIDM Fashion Club, the list goes on and on. There’s almost something for everyone. The same thing goes for sports. Live practices are still cancelled as of currently but many sports are having pre-season zoom meetings for those who are interested in possibly joining that team. Alapa says that she “joined the baking club and [is] looking into volleyball and softball.” Marshall said that she “joined a few clubs so far like the Baking Club, the ERHS High School Dems, and the Do Something Club.” Coney said that when he was a freshman, “I played a sport and it helped me get familiar with other 9th graders that were on the team. I also joined the Engineering Club and it was pretty fun and I met some really funny people.” 

High school gives you a chance to find yourself, and figure out what interests you. According to IvyWise, “You’ll learn a lot about yourself your freshman year – which subjects you like, which subjects you don’t, which interests you wish to pursue, and how you want to contribute to your high school community.” You learn how you want to be a part of your high school, how you can benefit it, and how it can benefit you. It’s going to take time to make that full adjustment (socially and academically) and in the meantime, it’s a perfect opportunity to find ways to get involved with your school.