by Daniela Morales

As teachers and students ended school in the summer, questions about how the next school year would look like remained unanswered. This uncertainty was even more pressing for the incoming freshman. Not only were they going to be navigating the beginning of a new phase in their life—high school—but also the ins and outs of learning during a pandemic. 

With that in mind, I set out to find what their experience with remote learning had been like so far. I made a survey and sent it out to Freshman Advisory Teachers, who shared them with their students. Seventy-seven freshmen answered the survey. Here’s what they had to say about remote learning. 

Some of the responses have been edited for clarity. 

How was the transition from middle school to high school?

“It was difficult because it doesn’t even feel like I graduated middle school”-Anonymous

“Pretty bland, I mean, the workload is the same. Only difference is the experience/mindset cause we’re doing learning virtually instead of in person”- Jordan Anders

“It was good and easier than I thought it would be. I would prefer to be in person though because it is easier for me to connect that way”-Caitlin Burns

“Stressful, worrying. I don’t know how physical school will go even though we’re not in it, but still I’m sure school will be back and I don’t want to go back to physical even though some things would be easier but also some things would for sure be harder. Like, I want to interact with people, but sometimes group assignments with new people…I just don’t know”-Mi’ky Crowley

“It was fine, I bet it would have been much more stressful in person though. At the beginning it just felt like the end of 8th grade year, just with different classes/people/teachers which was underwhelming”-Anonymous

What has your experience with conservatory been?

“It has been amazing! I look forward to every class and love all my teachers and peers”-Fiona Cooke, Musical Theater

“It has been stressful and fun”-Jacquline Freeman, Music

“Most of the classes have been fun and I liked it. There obviously have been boring classes or lessons that were boring or not interesting, and stuff like that, sometimes it’s hard to pay attention”-Anonymous, Creative Writing

“It’s been ok. I think it’s a lot more confusing online and I’m already not used to the amount of practicing I have to do now at ChiArts. Recording is also difficult because I don’t really have a good spot for it”-Anna Pacocha, Music

“Good, it’s definitely not how I thought it would be because of online learning. But we are doing art, learning skills so I have been enjoying it”-Harrison Brennan, Visual Arts

“I really love my conservatory and I like being able to learn how to write differently and I do feel like I have improved in my writing a lot. The teachers are super nice and I really like going into writing class” -Anonymous, Creative Writing

What were your expectations coming into this school year? Have they been met? Why or why not?

“Not really. I was hoping to get a’s and b’s but it’s just really hard to focus when you are at home and learning”-Anonymous

“Honestly I’m waiting to see until we go back into in person school to determine anything”-Eleanor Coughlin

“I expected it to be chaotic switching to online school but it was very organized”-Anonymous

“To be in school. No, not at all. I wanted this to be more of a personal thing but it feels so disconnected. The reason I wanted to come to this school was because I would be with people that connected with me on an artistic level but now that has been taken away from me”-Triniti C.

“My expectations were me having friends, and getting to have that high school experience. They haven’t been met really, it’s harder to make friends online”-Caitlyn T.

“I think that I was just expecting everything to be super challenging and stressful, and it really wasn’t. Everything kind of just came together at a good pace, and it was kind of hard at the beginning, but things began to look up and get better”-Victoria Flores

What are some struggles you’ve had with remote learning?

“Some struggles I’ve had with remote learning is staying focused on my work and being distracted most of the time. Also trying to fit my home life and my school life together so it won’t be messy and stressful”-Ilanna

“Definitely motivation. And the repetition throughout the days is so exhausting”-Anonymous

“Focusing. I can barely focus in actual school so imagine how it is now that I’m at home all day. Also not sleeping but that was always a problem”-Janae Holmes

“Teachers not responding or answering emails when having questions”-Tatianna Reynolds 

“Making friends is a little hard, I’m not really social so talking to people, especially texting, is weird for me. Also, balancing academic and conservatory work is really difficult, and practicing is hard with my brother and mom working from home”-Anonymous


“The Wi-Fi and laptop issues”-Anonymous

What’s it like connecting with new students?

“Harder. It’s way better to see and speak with people physically than through a screen. Connecting with students hasn’t been hard, but it hasn’t been easy either”-Daniel Perez

“It is interesting. I feel like it is more scary because you can not see people when you’re texting, so you don’t know the vibes”-Anonymous

“Interesting, it’s like having online friends but in the same school”-Anonymous

“Pretty easy considering it’s over social media so it can be more of a personal one to one connection”-Triniti C.

“Since I am not meeting them in person, I don’t really feel a connection with the other students”-Anonymous

“It’s nice! We can all talk in group chats, and social media. I’ve made  a few friends, everyone is super cool, and I know everyone in my conservatory and advisory”-Anonymous

“It was pretty bad at the beginning of the year, I felt like I knew nobody. But eventually I got to know some people and talk to everyone, on group chats”-Harrison Brennan  

Have you connected with your classmates outside of class? If so, how?

“I mean I have some friends on social media but I don’t really text anyone. It’s always been hard for me to make friends in person so by doing it online it makes it even harder for me. I get along with my classmates but I still don’t really make any friends, so no I haven’t connected out of class”-Anonymous

“I have connected with my classmates outside of class on a group chat in Snapchat full of my classmates which help me and it’s cool to be connected with them”-Ilanna

“Yes, with snapchat. And email since some dont have snap”-Janae Holmes

“Yeah! We have a Discord for the whole school and a group chat!”-Fatimah Alhossain

“Yes. I had a Covid safe birthday party in my backyard and met about half of the people in my class in person. It was really nice to actually be around people”-Anonymous

What would you rate the overall remote learning experience at ChiArts? Please describe why you selected the rating that you did.

“9. All of our teachers are great and understanding and they are willing to talk anytime we need to. The only reason I put 9 was because I just don’t love remote learning, like not being able to go out and meet the friends that I have made in high school”-Alex Weber

“2. It’s just really hard. The tests, less help, connection issues”-Anonymous

“5. I selected 5 because everything would be easy to keep up with but I have such a hard time focusing and I get so anxious when I have to ask for help”-Sofia Muñoz

“10. Teachers are actually helping me. I’ve been to a lot of schools where the teachers have literally just left me in the dust and here they really make an effort to help”-Anonymous

“3. I selected a 3 because it’s not fun. There are a lot of distractions at home and we don’t really get to make any new friends since we are not with each other”-Kiersten C.

“8. I think that I’d have to rate the overall learning experience from remote learning at ChiArts a 8/10 because even though it gets hard sometimes, the teachers are understanding, and they check up on us sometimes too. And it’s been kind of easy to adjust to throughout this whole pandemic”-Harrison Brennan

“3. Not a very fun experience”-Anonymous.

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