Back to School
Brooklyn Jones | Maui High School, Class of 2022The past year brought a collective push to regain a sense of normalcy in our social lives and routines. Bit by bit, businesses, parks and beaches opened, followed by recreational locations like movie theaters, malls and amusement parks. One of the most important openings is entirely in-person school. As a student who missed being in the classroom, I could not be more excited to return. At the same time, COVID cases were still climbing and I couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà vu from last school year. This hurry to restore our society to its pre-COVID state seemed premature since the spread of the Delta variant.
My feelings about school this year were very mixed but I can’t imagine I was the only one who felt this way. I asked four students from varying grades in high school what their thoughts were about the new school year.
My sister, Gabriella Jones, began her first year at Maui High after having a completely self-guided online eighth-grade year. Her classes on an online program called Acellus consisted mainly of concept videos with online readings and questions. She admitted the virtual setting made it hard to learn and it was less effective than in-school learning for her. But now, as a freshman, she is looking forward to her in-person classes, particularly science and Arts and Communication. Not to mention, the thought of seeing her school friends for the first time in a year is exhilarating. “I hope we can watch football games together, too,” she says.
Vincent John Mabalot says his in-person Building and Construction II class is getting him the most pumped for this school year. “I want to work in the construction industry in the future and learning more about construction will help me later on.” Certain pragmatic classes, like culinary or automotive technology, were hard to teach and learn last year.
Vincent trusts his classmates at Maui High School will follow the regulations to help keep each other safe and in school. He admits he is “a little worried” about the virus spreading but is overall cool, calm and collected about this new chapter.
After not seeing most of the school for almost a year and a half, what can we predict will happen?
“I will be expecting smiles and hugs from friends, lost Freshmen and Sophomores wandering around the campus, licensed Juniors and Seniors bragging about their licenses and lifted yotas, and teachers and school faculty members screaming with joy.” Ricky Nathaniel Villegas anticipates this frenzy for the first day of school. Ricky, a fellow senior at Maui High, hasn’t set foot on campus since his sophomore year and is glad to be back.
As cases are on the rise, though, he’s keeping his expectations realistic for the rest of the school year. Ricky says we may have to “say hello to Google Meet again” if the current trend continues. But until that happens, Ricky points out we shouldn’t take our full-time school for granted and enjoy the time we are given with each other now.
As a senior at Seabury Hall High School, Tia Lewis is used to physical learning: “Being part of a private school, I have come to learn that I am very fortunate and lucky to have gone back to school the majority of last year (2020–2021).” At the beginning of last year, though, Seabury students had online school experience for a couple of weeks. Tia felt she was getting completely lost and sidetracked on the computer as a hands-on learner. Because of Seabury’s smaller population, however, students could have classes outside and have room to socially distance themselves properly. Despite the precautions made for this year, Tia is optimistic about her twelfth-grade experience: “There is still plenty of hope that we will have a great senior year filled with endless memories and endless fun.”
As much as I didn’t like distance learning, I was dreading the thought of going back to school. The number of new cases climbing each day scared me a lot and made me rethink if I wanted to go back.
Then I realized that at this point, the pandemic is a part of our lives now. As people, we learn to adapt, no matter how hard our circumstances get.
By now, good sanitization and masking should be a habit. In school, we know we will have to be socially distanced in lunch lines and classrooms. Yes, this year will be different but that does not mean it will be bad.
In the end, we must decide what we are going to do with what we have while we can. And we are all going to make the most of this year … right after we grab some hand sanitizer first.
Google® Is Not Everything … is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Brooklyn Jones, a Senior at Maui High School. She is an assistant editor in her school’s journalism program, Saber Scribes, and also a member of the Girls Can STEM Club. Brooklyn is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, specializing in graphic design. In her free time, she swims for Hawai‘i Swimming Club, bakes and likes to go to the beach. She is the daughter of Melissa Ligot Jones and Darren Jones.