Middle schoolers in high school… well, not really.

Emily Allard, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 sweeping away several of our in-person educational years, it feels like the seniors are still sophomores, the juniors are still freshmen… and the freshmen? Sixth graders.

Education has looked different for all grades in the past couple of years. The class of 2025 hasn’t had a fully normal, uninterrupted year of school since sixth grade. Their eighth-grade year, which is typically used to prepare students for high school, was mostly virtual.

As a result of this, 74 percent of Liberty’s freshmen felt only somewhat prepared to enter high school.*

“Tests and homework this year have been kind of hard,” freshman Sandesh Sulgaonkar said. “I definitely wasn’t prepared for AP Human Geography. The test questions are very confusing.”

Liberty’s staff has been considering ways to aid the freshmen in their adjustment this year. 

“I’m building in more time at the beginning of class so we can do something fun and see how everyone is doing,” English teacher Steve Valach said. “I think the freshmen are adjusting, and some of what I’m doing is making sure I’m adjusting too.”  

According to Sulgaonkar, upperclassmen have also been very supportive in his transition to high school.  

“I tried to watch what other people were doing,” Sulgaonkar said. “I followed the upperclassmen, and it really helped me adjust. They’re really helpful, and they’re not mean.” 

Another challenge freshmen have faced this year while adjusting to high school has been adapting socially. Returning from a year of virtual learning has impacted much of the way peers interact. 

“People just talk less now,” Sulgaonkar said. “I feel like I’m always the one starting the conversation, but I think over time that will change.” 

Principal Sean Martin mentioned some of the social development that students have missed out on, such as the experience of asking a teacher for help face-to-face rather than by email, that bring students a sort of confidence. 

He is, however, proud of the way Liberty’s students are handling the shift from online school to in-person school. 

“I’m amazed how quickly people are catching up,” Martin said. “People are growing so quickly, maybe through necessity, but I still think it’s been impressive.”

 

*according to a survey of 125 freshmen at Liberty