Katie Walters, CFNN Editor/Reporter

Entering high school is a milestone for many ambitious students. They get freedom in their course selections, don’t have an assigned lunch table, and see new faces everywhere they look. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has prevented our freshman from getting to experience these in real life.

As we complete our 5th week of virtual learning, some students are eager to get back in the halls of Cape Fear. “I would like to go back to school,” says freshman Becca Johns, “even though I don’t despise online learning.” However, she does wish for the opportunity to talk to new people naturally.

Becca continues to keep in touch with her
friends daily through apps like Snapchat.

“You don’t get the chance to meet others in this type of learning environment,” she stated. Most of the time, students are instructed to leave their microphones off in class. One downside of having a digital classroom is that if you say something, everyone else in the meeting hears it too. 

This means small side conversations with the people sitting next to you are not possible. Even though they can be distracting, they help new friendships blossom. Since starting to learn virtually, students, especially freshmen, have lost a small but essential part of adjusting to high school.

That and several other factors play into creating the ideal freshmen experience. Before entering high school, the only expectations we have are based on what we see in movies or TV shows.

Of course, those depict somewhat normal experiences. There’s never been a coming-of-age movie where the main character is a high school student during a pandemic (but maybe there will be one soon!).

Jacob McLaurin would most likely be the main character if this movie were to happen. He was looking forward to branching out during his freshman year. While he hoped for the best, his expectations of high school are not being met through online learning. 

Jacob McLaurin keeps a smile on even
though he wishes for a normal year.

“All of this feels surreal,” he said. “Since 5 pm on March 14th, every single day has felt copied and pasted. I was still nervous about the first day of school though, and honestly, I don’t think I can fully accept this as my freshman year.”

On the other hand, some students are making the best of remote learning. “I don’t really like going to school,” told freshman Alison Walters. “I think I do better learning from home because I don’t have so much going on during the day. Learning from home is comfortable for me,” she explained. 

Bryanna Noftz feels similarly. Coming from a private school, her initial expectations were not clear. So far, her school year has been going well. “I’m not as nervous as I was the first week,” she claimed. “It wasn’t really that true when people told me it was hard, because I’m enjoying high school.”

The freshmen feel comfortable with the current Cape Fear high schedule. They don’t seem to prefer the true schedule we would follow in-person. “I like the schedule we have now, but the real class schedule we’d have is still something I’ll have to adjust to,” McLaurin explained. They also agree that having more time after school is a nice part of having only 4 classes a day.

Something that sticks out to freshmen is having classes with more than one grade. “It’s weird,” told Johns. “I’m not used to seeing so many different groups of people in my class.”

While the typical worries of physically going to school may be gone, freshmen are still missing out on some of the crucial parts of being the new kids. They’ll never get to have a normal first day of high school, and they may never get the satisfaction of attending football games for the school they finally go to now.

As we continue to live in our Groundhog Day reality, it feels like we will never get to have a normal school year. COVID-19 has taken a pretty huge toll on most of us, but our freshmen have lost some irreplaceable moments at the start of their high school careers.

One thing is for sure, the Class of 2024 will always remember their unique freshmen experience.