New Year, New Faces

As we start a new year, we are extremely excited to be able to let go of and forget about everything that happened in 2020. But as much as we love saying “new year, new me,” and starting fresh, we cannot forget about the one thing that is still with us. COVID-19 is still very much a thing, and it is still affecting people around us. Now that we have started the second semester of our school year, we are able to see how these changes have affected our students here at Apopka High, both students who are coming back for the first time since our last academic year and our returning students from last semester.

This past school year was nothing like we imagined it would be. It was definitely out of the norm for us but we somehow managed to get through it, as a school and a community. Our students and staff from Apopka were able to step out of their comfort zones after spending months inside of their homes, away from others. As we start the second semester of this school year, we are able to grow somewhat used to the new rules and regulations being thrown at us. “It has changed a lot but I have grown to accept it,” said Senior Grant Collins.

It is obvious that this year has been quite the struggle for everyone and as much as we try to help each other out, we still sometimes manage to talk ourselves down too much, not giving ourselves enough credit for being able to keep going. But thankfully, we have so many people supporting us and helping us be the best version of ourselves. “School in general is hard, but this year I have shown some improvement in my grades. My teachers have been very kind and honest.”

Being in your last year of high school, you want to be able to experience as much as you can. Unfortunately for the class of 2020 and 2021, the key elements of our Senior year were long gone the moment COVID was introduced. “I’m super disappointed it’s not the senior year I dreamt it to be,” said Senior Haylee Lewis. Many of our seniors even decided to come back this semester, saying that although it’s not the way they wanted to go about their last year, they’ll take whatever they can and cherish every moment of it. “I’ve been trying to make the best out of it.

You only get one senior year, and I don’t want to ruin it by being upset,” she said. Not only is this affecting our students, but also our teachers. Mathematics for College Readiness teacher Mrs. Gillis explains her frustration towards this, as well. “It’s difficult to give assurances of the things they are hopeful for. Most seniors look forward to prom, Senior Olympics and graduation. These are all things last year’s seniors were denied and no firm answers have been supplied. Everything that we used to be sure of is now unknown.  It’s very difficult to keep them optimistic.” Luckily enough, we are all able to see the good in what this year brings us, and we strive for success.

Now with all of the people coming back this quarter the hallways are filled with new faces, the courtyard is louder during lunch, and our campus has started to feel much more alive. You may hear the occasional “It feels weird to be here” every once in a while, but we all feel lucky enough to be together again. To the returning students, have fun the safe way, and to the ones who have been here since the beginning, how does it feel to forget you even have a mask on?