Freshmen experience in-person high school for the first time


Many students have been able to drag their backpacks out of their rooms and finally use them once again upon returning to in-person school. Photo by Isabella Bonilla

Isabella Bonilla

The class of 2024 will never get to have a “typical” freshman experience. The raging pandemic and widespread utilization of NTI has thrown many students at large into a completely different world, redefining what’s normal and scraping away at simple practices. Last summer there was no formal Crimson Day where the freshmen got to come tour Manual before their very first day of highschool. There was no first day insanity where they had to try and navigate foreign halls amidst a sea of upperclassmen. No pep rallies, homecomings, awkward in-person icebreakers or MAC lab adventures during lunch. Instead, these freshmen had to try and figure out the logistics of high school work and all the newness from a single device at home, wherever home may be.

“As a freshman, one thing that I enjoyed was the rallies (although it took me a while to warm up to them). For me, it’s a bit disappointing that the freshman won’t get to experience a rally/Red and White week until sophomore year,” Kaylynn Li (11, MST) said. 

The opportunity to return to in-person classes had many freshmen jumping, eager to meet the voices behind those circles on their screens or to truly begin a traditional high school experience. Others chose to remain NTI and continue with a more familiar routine for the time being. Either decision was and is a respectable one. 

Some in-person freshmen have been reflective of their decision and excited for what stepping into the school building has meant for them and their education.

“The best part was being able to connect names with faces and have actual conversations with classmates and teachers. In my opinion, classes are run much smoother in-person and it is a better learning environment overall,” Lily Cashman (9, J&C) said, “…After returning in-person I wouldn’t want to switch back to the virtual setting.” 

“I always planned on coming back, as I knew I’d learn a lot more in-person. So far it’s been so much better than virtual for me, mostly because I get to learn so much more than before,” Carmen Maudlin (9, HSU) said. 

“I came back in-person to meet new people and to have a better learning experience. It’s definitely a big change but I’m enjoying it a lot,” Jaci Baker Green (9, HSU) said. 

Many students from other grade levels have acknowledged the struggles these freshmen have faced in getting acclimated to the high school atmosphere. 

“My advice for freshmen is to just participate and be active. Participate in classes and activities so you start to feel comfortable with the school environment. You’ll get to know your teachers and classmates better, making your school experience just a little bit more enjoyable during these times,” Li said.

Freshmen are encouraged to reach out to their upperclassmen peers and not to be afraid to ask questions or for advice. While they may not have been a freshman during a pandemic, they too were once a freshman and understand what that experience is like. No one is judging you for being new and unfamiliar, especially during a time where pretty much everything is new and unfamiliar to most everyone. 

The counselors have also all been extra hands-on during the craze of NTI, promoting a plethora of student activity opportunities and school help resources. This includes access to the  

Manual Achievement Center (MAC), where students can receive help from a tutor, as well as information about different school clubs. You can access the counselor website here.

 Fortunately, there are plentiful opportunities and a couple more years to look forward to for the class of 2024. Those who remained virtual will hopefully be able to walk the halls come the 2021-2022 school year, while hopefully all freshmen will soon have the chance to taste a traditional high school experience.