Regaining Normalcy: What Students Are Excited To Have Back and Sad To See Go
June 7, 2021
COVID-19 stripped Lakeland Regional High School of the ability to have a normal school day and schedule since the pandemic’s start back in March 2020. From alternating virtual and in-person half school days, to having no lunch and study hall in the 2020-2021 school year, it’s safe to say that LRHS has missed the taste of normalcy. Fortunately, that taste of normalcy is growing closer and closer each day. LRHS plans to return to five full in person days next year, and to replace the hour long blocks with the original 80 minute classes. With all these changes having occurred and continuing to do so, here is what some students at LRHS are excited to have back next school year, and what they are going to miss:
A and B Day Schedule vs Two Semester Schedule
For the 2020-2021 school year, LRHS decided to follow a two semester schedule. A student would have four classes everyday for the first half of the year, and then have the other four classes the second half of the year. This schedule was much different from LRHS’ typical A and B day schedule, where students would have four A day classes and four B day classes. These days then alternated, rather than students having the same schedule everyday like this year.
Some students enjoyed the new change in schedule brought upon Lakeland. Sophomore Melissa Meakem told The Lancer Ledger that she was going to “miss the two semester schedule next year.” Meakem felt the semesters made “learning less stressful.” Sophomore Jessica Franqueira felt similar to Meakem, adding that she felt having “less classes at a time…was way easier than the A/B schedule.”
On the contrary, sophomore Amanda Whitmore preferred the A and B day schedule over the two semesters. Whitmore explained that the A and B days allowed for her to “see more of [her] peers more often” and helped her avoid reaching a “burnout phase” at the end of a semester as her work load slowed down much more easily.
Some students are like sophomore Kaelin Anderson, and prefer the two semester schedule, but are looking forward to having A and B days back next year. Anderson explained that while having the two semesters gave her more time to focus better on her work, she misses seeing her friends in different classes each day. The A and B days allow students like Anderson to see more of their friends, rather than “just one group half a year and then another.”
80 Minute Blocks vs 60 Minute Blocks: Which is the Student Favorite?
In a normal year, the LRHS school day would have started around 7:30 a.m. and ended at 2:35 p.m. The day would consist of five 80 minute blocks. In a year with COVID-19, a LRHS school day starts around 7:40 and ends at 12:10. These shortened days consist of four 60 minute blocks.
Many students expressed their pleasure for the shorter days. Students like Franqueira enjoyed having to spend “less hours in school,” while still managing to complete their work. Anderson was also satisfied with the shorter blocks, as they allowed her to finish her work “with small worry about the due date,” and still having time for after-school activities.
However, not every class benefited from the half days. Some classes were unable to perform activities to their fullest extent, like Meakem’s food class. Meakem explained that having only 60 minutes in foods meant certain recipes could not be made due to the timing.
Whitmore was fond of the shortened school days, but found the aftermath of this schedule to be the most difficult. She elaborated, saying that coming home so early “can be very mentally challenging and boring,” as there are limited options as to how one can entertain themselves.
Hello Normal In-Person Schedule, Goodbye Hybrid Schedule
Like hundreds of other schools, LRHS followed a hybrid schedule for school this year. Students were broken up into two cohorts based on their last name: red and grey. Red students attended in-person learning on specific days, and as follows for grey students. For a majority of the year, the schedule looked like this: Red Day, Grey Day, Virtual Wednesday for all students, Red Day, Grey Day. Students were also given the option to stay completely virtual if they desired.
Shifting back to five in-person days a week from a hybrid schedule next year is definitely going to take some readjusting. Meakem will miss the sleeping-in aspect of virtual days, and being able to do school in the “comfort of [her own] home” next to her cats. Franqueira has enjoyed having “a break from being” in-person everyday, and will miss this aspect next year.
Whitmore will miss virtual days to a “certain extent.” Whitmore has found virtual days to be beneficial as she has been able to take mental health days when needed, while still being able to log on to Google Meets and not miss any material. Other than this, Whitmore is “excited” to attend school five days a week again next year.
The Hopeful Return of Lunches and Study Halls
Due to the safety precautions, LRHS was unable to incorporate lunch/study hall blocks this year into students’ schedules. To no surprise, nearly all students are excited to have these two elements back in school next year.
Meakem and Anderson both found lunches and study halls to be their favorite parts of the day and they are beyond excited to have them back next year. Many students also explained that lunch and study halls were a time of socializing and catching up with friends. Lunches and study halls offer that much needed break in the middle of the day, making them even more desired by students to have back next year.
Saying Goodbye and Welcoming Back
Schedule changes and school day lengths are not the only aspects of school changing next year. Meakem explains that she is greatly excited to have back school days with all students in the building again. This will give her the opportunity to not only see but potentially have friends in classes next year that were in a different cohort than her this year, and to create new friendships. Whitmore is excited to have activities like the musical back next school year. Franqueira looks forward to having larger classes again next year as she feels “it’s way more fun when everyone can be in the classroom at the same time.” Anderson is ready for hands-on activities, like science experiments and group work, to return next school year.
While the students of LRHS are very excited to have back some normalcy next year, they will also miss some of the new “normalcy” in school they have begun to adjust to. For Meakem personally, she will miss the simplicity of attending Google Meets from the comfort of her home. Anderson will miss having the 10 minute break while switching classes next year.
An Abnormal Freshmen Year
The freshmen at Lakeland had an interesting year to say the least. Many of the freshmen felt they only got a “taste” at high school life this year, rather than an authentic experience. With that being said, the freshmen have a lot they are looking forward to having back next school year.
Freshman Kayla Barnhardt spoke to The Ledger and explained that the return of A and B days next year will be very different from the same schedule she followed each day in middle school, but how sometimes “you just need a change.” Barnhardt is excited to “try something new” with the A and B days next year, but she will miss the two semester schedule. She elaborated, saying that she found that her classes being broken up into two semesters was less stressful, as she only had to focus on those four classes.
Coming back with the A and B days next year are again the 80 minute blocks. Barnhardt explained that she is going to miss the 60 minute blocks, especially since her middle school classes were about the same length. She said that the 80 minute blocks are definitely going to take some “getting used to,” but she is keeping an open mind and staying “excited to” embrace a change.
Due to the pandemic, socializing at school has become incredibly difficult. Smaller classes, social distancing, and more independent work made talking to friends and fellow students in classes near impossible. Freshman Steven Bracken is most excited to have this socialization aspect back next. He looks forward to being able to see both “red day and grey day students” in school next year.
The pandemic also took lunch and study hall away from students this year due to safety precautions. Barnhardt looks forward to having lunches and study halls back next year, as she misses being able to “sit down with…friends and just take a break from school.” She also added that by having lunch and study hall back next year, she will be able to see friends in the opposite cohort of her everyday.
Both Bracken and Barnhardt agreed that they did not get to fully experience high school. The two, along with a majority of the freshmen class, are looking forward to truly undergoing a real high school experience, rather than just the taste they received. Despite the unique school year, both Barnhardt and Bracken found aspects of this year they will miss. For Bracken, going back to a normal school year meant no more doing “school in the comfort of [his] home” and sleeping in longer, two elements he will miss next year. Barnhardt is going to miss both the alternating virtual and shortened school days next year as she felt this allowed her to have more time to complete her assignments before heading off to “sports and activities.”
Heading Back to Normalcy
While many students are sad to see some of the changes from this year at Lakeland go, there are many normal aspects they are excited to have back. Having LRHS return to a more normal schedule next year puts the Lakeland community one step closer to having life as we used to know it back.