Freshman Year, the Future’s Unclear

A look into the thoughts of Eaglecrest’s class of 2024.

2020 marked a page in the book of history, no doubt. 2021 might as well. It was a year of changes for people, socially and mentally. For many teens making the transition from middle to high school, it’s not what they expected. There’s an apparent lack of connection, communication, and opportunity- the essentials for starting a new chapter in one’s life.

An emptied Eaglecrest High School on a Friday. The building itself is captured, missing the essence of its students. (Lena Peou)

Some have argued that there’s a difference between school and education. School: the building housing your worst nightmares. Education: an essential to laying down the foundation that paves your way into the future. 

“I would think there is a difference for me. School goes along with being able to see my friends, do extracurricular activities, and of course learning. I would say education is just the learning part or at least what the system gives us to learn,” says Mackenzie McGuire, age 15. 

This kind of separation contributes to the dread of waking up for another school day. “I don’t really like the thought of going to school because it’s kind of stressful to be in the building,” said freshman Kate Hall. “But I do want to learn more and get things done.”High school is where things really start to matter, where you start figuring out how and where to put your best foot forward. It can be difficult finding purpose in the work too. 

“Where all of those [classes] fit into my future life is the question though,” comments McGuire, weighing out her priorities. “When I feel that the concepts I’m being taught have no relevance to my future, I make no effort to permanently retain the information.” There’s an increasing weight being placed on teens to know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and that’s scary. That pressure leeches into worrying about what to study, and what to focus on. 

I get jealous of people who know what they’re doing because they won’t waste their time learning things that won’t be useful in their careers,” said freshman Teresa Pham. The fear of an unclear path takes up minds far earlier than it should. 

School isn’t the same as it was a year and a half ago, and lately, it’s been feeling extra optional. “Sometimes I feel super motivated to get things done, but with remote Mondays and the hybrid schedule it’s easy to feel like I can push things to the side,” said Hall. 

Freshman Paige Helfrich standing outside of the school on Monday the 22nd, next to Eaglecrest’s raptor statue. “Onward with Spirit, Pride, and Loyalty,” it says. (Maggie Donohue)

The district worked with what we had, and although imperfect, the “asynchronous days” provided the chance to regain motivation, or catch a break. But it’s also another chance to waste away another 18 hours. “Remote days make it harder to stay motivated because I want to sleep in and procrastinate, but it’s good when I have a few days when I really want to sit down and do things,” remarked Pham. Like her, many other students have been able to flourish with the extra time. 

“I was expecting to be overwhelmed as well as have a lot of stress but that hasn’t been the case. Fortunately, the middle school I went to had pretty much the same workload and taught me how to handle the amount of work I was given,” comments Paige Helfrich, freshman.

Concerning the future, it’s difficult starting to discern what you want for yourself, and what your parents may want for you. Even the expectations we set have changed within our growth. “It’s like I want to take a step forward in how I care for myself, but end up taking two steps back when I don’t do something and then hate myself for not doing it,” voiced McGuire.

But enough of the mood-downers: what about the bright side? “I hope that online learning will help develop my individual work habits, and that this development will help counterbalance the reduced knowledge I’ll take away from the school year,” said freshman Evan Pacic. The hope that there is something to be learned other from academic content keeps spirits high.

Finding normalcy in this situation is difficult, but it helps restore that feeling that you’re living life the way you ‘should’. “When I started doing those things again, I realized I felt much better about how my days were being spent, as well as better mentally and physically,” said Helfrich.

There’s room to grow outside of school too. “Before [the pandemic] I didn’t really think about self care and thought it was kind of dumb, but now it’s really important that we take care of ourselves,” said Pham. Despite the lacking feeling in many of Eaglecrest’s students, mental health is just as important as the need for a perfect GPA.

Who can tell? The future is malleable and undefined. “There might be a silver lining somewhere, but the clouds stretch from horizon to horizon,” added  Pacic. “I hope that when we can see the end of the storm, there’ll be one.”