Nobody said starting high school would be easy.
On the contrary, it can be quite hard. But starting high school during a global pandemic, that has the whole world holding its breath? Well, that’s a different story. Every freshman student has had their own opinion and experiences adjusting into high school this year in this weird environment.
Principal Chris Mastrangelo can only imagine how freshmen are dealing with the stress of this year. “There’s a lot of adjustments when you go from the eighth grade to the ninth grade, in a normal year, and it’s hard, it’s one of those transition points in your life [...] you’ll always remember.” He even imagines that they are feeling disappointed and that they aren’t even a part of Malden High School due to the fact that they haven’t been to the building as students.
Of course, some students are adjusting just fine while others are having their fair share of issues, but Malden High School has prepared to help all students. According to Mastrangelo and ninth-grade guidance counselor, Amy Yu, there are many House principles, counselors, teachers, and social workers available for the students to help them transition to high school. Saul Kruckenberg, a freshman at Malden High School, “[thinks] that [it is] really nice to be able to email counselors or teachers.”
Yu believes that “the socializing piece [is] what students struggle with.” Freshman year is one of the most important years in life. Making friends during freshman year is so important and many people like freshman student, Emma Spignese-Smolinsky, feel that it was not what she was expecting. “[She cannot] meet new people, [making it] a different experience.”
Another freshman student Kayla Ortiz has been enjoying this quite well. “Freshman year has been great so far; [she likes] all [her] teachers [and] students, everyone has been so nice and kind to one another.”
Of course, there are still some problems with high school online. Spignese-Smolinsky revealed that “[it is] harder to learn like this.” Steven Luong, another freshman student, feels that “[it is] a bit hard to stay concentrated on doing your work.” Being on a device for the whole day for school can be draining for some students and cause them to lose interest or fall behind.
Malden High has been doing its best to help accommodate the needs of all the students. Saul Kruckenburg commented that “[he] just thinks that Malden High is doing a great job at this and [he’s] glad that we have been able to adapt to virtual learning so well.” Mastrangelo also commented on how much he misses being in high school. “[He misses] seeing the kids—[they] all do, all the adults in the building.”
Mastrangelo also commented that he misses being able to say good morning to the students, as well as saying goodbye to them in the afternoon. He also wishes that he was able to create memories with the students, just as he used to before the pandemic.
Many students like that teachers have been checking up on students during class, but it is also nice to hear personally from them. Ortiz mentioned that “[The staff] could check up on people if they [don’t show up to class or just to chat].” As many people at Malden High know, Principal Mastrangelo sends out nightly check-ins which are meant to let students know that “even though we’re seeing each other like this you can still reach out to us.”
Of course, nobody expected the pandemic to last this long. But Malden High School has had to adapt ways that nobody ever deemed possible.