Freshman reflects on starting high school, forming friendships virtually


Without a doubt, no freshman imagined starting high school on a computer. Before the pandemic, I remember hearing about all the classes and events going on at Gunn from my older siblings, waiting for my turn to experience it all. Now that we’re online, schoolwide events have been replaced, and classmate interactions and activities changed. Still, not everything has vanished–it’s adapted to our new Zoom setting. As a freshman, adjusting to high school online has come with its fair share of social and academic challenges. However, this experience has been an adventure and has helped me grow as a person.

In this era of online school, with the date of our full, maskless return out of sight, there is much uncertainty of what’s to come; many high schoolers are waiting to go back to their old normal, but freshmen know no normal.

As high school scatters middle schoolers, splitting them into two different schools, forming friendships can be difficult. On campus, making friends could be as simple as sitting next to someone in class, but we don’t have that capability anymore. Instead, we must find creative new ways to get to know other students through the help of student government, staff and other students.

First semester, I looked into numerous clubs for a variety of my interests as well as other new things to try. Debate, class council and theater auditions have helped me get to know the Gunn community. Joining the first debate meeting, which involved logging onto a group of 40 to 50 kids while having to keep my camera on and continuously speaking about various subjects introduced thirty minutes prior, was intimidating. Every Tuesday, as 5 o’clock rolled around, my mouse hovered over the link and I questioned whether to log on or to hop into bed. But deciding to go was the best thing I could have done: it reintroduced me to my love for debate—something I had lost during quarantine–and it continues to be a fun experience, opening me up to more human interaction and a chance to become more comfortable with public speaking.

Another way I’ve made friends is through forming study groups. Whether with old friends or new classmates, study groups are a great way to get to know others. Last semester, I emailed a student who shared a similar schedule to me and even now, we still talk often and reach out whenever one of us needs help.

One of the biggest things I took away from this year of isolation is that fear cannot control your decisions. Don’t be afraid to try new things, afraid to put yourselves out there or afraid to fail, because this will only hold you back from making the most out of this year.