Though our days of distance learning are long behind us, the effects of an entire year of high school behind a computer screen are now more evident than ever in the way students see getting involved on campus even as our years in high school are coming to a close.
Four weeks into the school year, the upperclassmen at Glen A. Wilson High School have begun the school year getting ready to apply to college. Unfortunately for many, writing about extracurriculars and passions in college applications is not coming as easily as it has for prior graduating classes. This is because the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year was over distance learning, and as a result, many students—most notably those from the classes of 2023 and 2024—were not able to get involved at school.
However, despite losing those crucial, early years in high school, students were given the opportunity to explore new extracurriculars upon returning to campus with an attitude to make the most out of their final years.
Junior Isaac Serrato reflects on how online learning kept him from getting involved on campus in ways he wished he could have sooner.
“Having a whole year online personally felt like a standstill in my high school experience,” Serrato said. “Usually in high school, you progress with activities and academics for the better as you move forward [from freshman year]. But when [school went] online, I felt as if I took a step backward…. [and] was not as academically strong nor involved.”
In spite of this, Serrato joined the CODE team, robotics team, and the Associated Student Body (ASB) at the start of the 2022-2023 school year because he said they all align with his passions and interests and are worth investing time in.
Similarly, senior Felicity Yu, who returned to in-person learning at Wilson last year after a fully digital sophomore year, shares how the year she missed out on allowed her to become a better student and deepen her presence in the Health Occupation Students Association (HOSA), a club for students aspiring for a career in the medical field.
“It was weird coming back to in-person schooling and being an upperclassman, especially having to deal with the tough academic rigor of junior year,” Yu says. “[However], my junior year was extremely memorable because I took advantage of and participated in so many different experiences that I had not previously been able to due to distant learning. I think that distance learning was a blessing because I was able to really put my all into growing HOSA and seeing it to its full success.”
Yu also adds that she hopes to close off her last year in high school strong “both academically and socially…[participating] in all senior events and [leaving] high school with no regrets!”
Joining ASB and becoming president of HOSA and the Voices of Wilson Choir program president are some ways Yu has already cultivated that kind of year for herself.
As for junior Sofia Carranza, coming back on campus has allowed her to enjoy school activities and make more memories at Wilson outside of academics.
“[When we came back on campus for] sophomore year, I [joined] Red Cross and…the track team. I enjoy running, and I really wanted to meet new people, make new friends and just be part of another team,” Carranza said.
But aside from extracurriculars, Carranza was even inspired to pursue business as a major later in life after joining the business pathway as a junior this year and the Future Business Leaders Association (FBLA) club that prepares and simulates students in a career in business and finance.
And Carranza, Yu and Serrato are not the only ones who discovered new interests once in-person instruction resumed last year.
Ultimately, it was the year away from campus that made students so eager to get involved at school this year. Distance learning has changed students’ mindsets. Students are not just getting involved to embellish their college applications. They are cherishing on-campus involvement and extracurriculars more deeply because they know how quickly it can all be lost.
Hopefully, the wholehearted engagement of this year’s upperclassmen will inspire and ignite school spirit in fellow students for years to come.