A return to connection: Upper school students reflect on arrival back to campus

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Photo credit: Nicole Farmer

In senior Nicole Farmer’s Systems Biology & Disease class, her fellow senior classmates Madis Kennedy, Gabriela Ayala-Becerra and Isabella Ionazzi dissect sheep brains on their second day back to in-person learning. As Los Angeles County enters the orange tier, more Archer students have been permitted to return to campus while also allowing those who’d prefer to stay home a hybrid option as well.

By Nyah Fernandez, Multimedia Editor

This month, students get to go from classroom to classroom with their classmates rather than being in their bedrooms or houses on Zoom. April 19, 2021, marked the first day that upper school students went back to campus compiled with more human interaction and the opportunity to see more of their classmates. However, there are some students who have chosen to stay home and have the hybrid option which is continued remote learning.

Sophomore Dani Fenster decided to head back to school this week and get the in-person experience of seeing her friends and teachers.

“I really like being here and seeing all of my friends,” Fenster said. “The learning is so much better, and the connection with other students and teachers is different in a good way.”

Fenster said that having people around her feels more like a normal school year than it did being online. Fenster said that she is glad to be able to experience the new learning system and get to see what new things are going to happen these last months of the school year.

“In our cohorts, we couldn’t really see very many people, so it feels a lot more normal. I really like it, and I just noticed immediately in these first two days back just a big difference in how much I’ve been learning,” Fenster said.

Junior Jacqueline Marks chose the option of staying at home and experiencing hybrid remote learning. She said she feels good about being hybrid and does not feel any different than before break when students were in school. Marks has also found that the poor audio quality has been an issue in her experience with hybrid learning.

“I’m still doing the same thing with the same material, so I guess the process of learning and being engaged hasn’t changed at all,”  Marks said.”The one thing I’m noticing that it’s been an issue is actually the audio quality from the people that are at campus because it’s all very echoey, and I don’t really ever know what the teacher is saying just because the audio quality is just so bad.”

Marks has still felt “at ease” being hybrid this week and she said that she has gotten closer with other students from being online and being able to talk to them virtually.

“I mean it’s a little different because now I’m not having the same sort of experience that everyone is having, but I’ve gotten closer with people that are doing online learning,” Marks said. “They’re in the same boat and that’s definitely helpful.”

Senior Nicole Farmer decided to go back to school in-person and is “very happy” to be back from being away for so long. As a senior, she wants to have as much time on-campus as she can get before graduating in May.

“Through quarantine, it was first hard to adjust to a virtual setting, so it’s nice to restart the rhythm that we had before and get back into the groove of going to actual classes and being able to talk to people face to face,” Farmer said. “I’m really excited to be back, and I think the Archer has done a really good job supporting us in the transition back to real school.”

Farmer said that her first day back was “weird,” but it was great to see most of her classmates and teachers face-to-face within a safe distance. She said she felt connected with her classmates and enjoys having the opportunity to be with them during this time. Being back at school has been good for her mental health, Farmer said, because she has human interaction and gets to experience what school was like before COVID-19.

“I mean it feels great — I think that mental health is super important, and during quarantine, I know that a lot of people, including myself, struggled with having to transition to FaceTiming our friends instead of talking to them in real life,” Farmer said. “It’s really great to be able to see them face-to-face and have those meaningful interactions in person.”