The Lost Years: Middle School Graduation to Freshman Orientation

Op-Ed by Hadjar Yousfi

Going back to our middle school for the first time since the pandemic was certainly a moment to never forget. Not just walking or driving past it. But stepping through the front door, as though you still attended. As though you had never left.

Those feelings were especially strong as we walked through the building, which now seemed a complete mess, with the classrooms moved around and the walls freshly painted. Standing there, looking around the now small-to-me building that used to feel so large, made the world feel so different.

As if we were stuck as our eighth-grade selves, while the world continued to change around us. As everything we had ever known had changed, even we had. But when you stand in a place you are so used to and that you could never seem to let go of everything somehow seems to come flooding back. 

Being a high school student two years later is certainly a new feeling. We grew up in a small building down the street, and now we are in a huge building with over 400 students in our grade. Yet, we will always be those same middle schoolers when we step back into that building because we never really got to say goodbye.

Seeing our classmates in the hallways of this new school has not felt the same. You see people, some of whom you haven’t talked to since 8th grade, and now in 10th grade, it feels as though they are not the same people. Not even close. Seeing your old classmates with new classmates is like turning over a leaf. 

Entering high school should have been something to remember. I should have remembered having the honorary walk down the huge staircase of my school. I should have remembered all of our end-of-the-year activities. And the thing that pains me the most is that I don’t remember my first day of high school. It was all just a blur. One Google Meet after another for months. 

The leaf of transition towards high school should’ve been flipped over slowly with the guidance and help of others in your life, and yet. Instead, that leaf was ripped out by a storm that came out of nowhere. Though it's still tough to adjust now, even two years later. But I hope when I’m older I’ll be able to look back at the pandemic as something that I had grown from. 

Pages from the Beebe School's 2019-2020 yearbook. Photos by Hadjar Yousfi.

Op-Ed by Daniel O'Toole

Returning to the building should have felt nostalgic, and I would remember our graduation party and the field trip to Canobie Lake Park that I’d been waiting for since sixth grade. Instead, I think about that last day before we left for the short two week break which would eliminate the risk of this “COVID” thing. As we all know, two weeks became a month, which lasted until June, which didn’t end until just before the end of last year around March.

That day felt like a dream; it couldn’t be what was actually happening. I looked at my phone during the last recess time I’d ever had, to see that the NBA player Rudy Gobert, who had made fun of COVID-19 at the end of his press conference in March 2020, tested positive for the virus and infected his teammate Donovan Mitchell, too. 

This was coming off from the night before, when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver canceled the Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder game due to a belief that someone on either team tested positive for COVID-19. Later that night, the league announced that the season will be suspending play until further notice. 

Everyone was confused and worrying about what could happen to us. Vice Principal Kevin Kilbride came into my history class that day and we asked him questions about COVID and what would happen if students tested positive. He didn’t have a clear answer at the time, nobody did. This was going to be an experience that wrecked millions of lives.

Hours after we got home, everyone received the call from the school system saying that in order to protect everyone against the rising threat of COVID, we would be taking a short two week break. It didn’t seem bad at first. Just a quick two week break in March and then we would return back to school and take MCAS, finals and then we would participate in all of our graduation events.

That never happened. 

The country entered a global pandemic and everything was shut down. We all became isolated from each other, the people we went to school with, the faces that would pass by in the halls, all of it was gone. My parents soon rushed to the grocery store to grab everything and anything they could for food because we didn’t know how long we’d have to be inside our homes.

By the middle of April, the school found a way to keep everyone active and the teachers were holding optional google meets. It was nice to see the teachers again. Seeing their different backgrounds along with everyone else’s, though it didn’t feel like we were having face-to-face conversations. 

When I heard of the opportunity earlier this year that we could drop off newspapers to the middle schools, I jumped at the chance that I would be able to see my old teachers and step foot in the school that I hadn’t been to in about one and a half years. It was very surreal at first, since I was finally back to the school I attended since I was five years old. Now I’m 16 and almost done with my sophomore year of high school.

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