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The New Reality: 10th Grade Online

By Margaret ‘23

December 10, 2019, I will never forget the day. It had been exactly 59 days since I first set foot on the Harvard-Westlake campus during Homecoming. Prior to December, I visited Harvard-Westlake Upper School for Homecoming 2019. Between the beautiful campus and the welcoming teachers, I knew I had to transfer. For months, I learned about the school and talked to different staff in preparation for my interview. Because I wanted to transfer my Sophomore year, everyone told me how competitive the admission process would be, but I knew I was a perfect fit. However, I needed to showcase this in just 30 minutes! On the drive home from my interview, I continuously pictured what life would be like at Harvard- Westlake; I only walked around for a short amount of time, but I could tell how close and inclusive the community is. I could not wait to hear if I got in!

It was 5 P.M. on March 6th, and it finally came. My mom told me that she received my acceptance letter, and I could not contain myself; I was literally jumping with joy. But little did I know that HW would be online for the Fall of 2020. Although I had gotten into my dream high school, I was not sure if my experience would be as enjoyable as I imagined. Being a new kid is already difficult, but I thought being a new kid and starting online would be impossible! This is not what I first imagined on my car ride home from my interview. 

Fast forward to the Fall, and we are officially online. Despite the virtual environment, my new classmates did not hesitate to get me acquainted with the HW community. I was having a hard time getting used to Zoom, which made virtual school even more daunting! I always forgot I was on mute when talking in class. My internet connection was spotty at best. And listening to teachers was difficult due to unexpected background noise, like my two dogs constantly barking. Once I was able to get myself accustomed to the Zoom, and classes were ongoing, teachers began to put us into “breakout rooms.” Breakout rooms are where we go into smaller groups, picked out by our teacher or by ourselves. This played a big role in helping me make new friends. We sometimes played ice breakers so we could all get to know each other, and the teachers encouraged us to talk to one another to build better relationships. Online group activities and social media have been other useful tools to simulate life at Harvard-Westlake. Although social media has always been a popular way to communicate with friends and family, in quarantine it has become more than just something I scroll through when I wake up. Technology has greatly supplemented the quarantine lifestyle, but nothing can compare to what life at Harvard-Westlake will be like in-person. I cannot wait to meet my new friends and to study on the beautiful campus I fell in love more than a year ago.

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Tags: , Last modified: October 26, 2020