Emily Macakanja

Looking Six Months Back

This article is part of a series of articles that were written last school year but were never published due to the pandemic. The Norse Code has decided to publish these articles to give insight into how people were feeling at that time.

This class of seniors, born in the year of and following 9/11, is currently living their final semester of high school during another nationwide heartache. Cancellations have occurred or are possible for most sports seasons, schoolwide events such as prom, and other activities including plays and fundraising drives. Even larger-scale functions like Wisconsin’s annual Summerfest have been postponed for September and the 2020 Olympics postponed a year. This change in plans has posed a big question for all of the world, which seniors of New Berlin West are heavily contemplating as well: what is next?

For New Berlin West, most seasons’ statuses are still up in the air, creating a valuable dynamic for sports teams. Senior Josh Lange describes the approach of the NBW tennis team, “We are all still training everyday just in case we get that small chance to play again.” This attitude is widespread especially when students have been putting in work for years and this might be their final season.

Softball player Kat Burkhardt reflects on how not having a season is hurtful to student-athletes in other ways. “Everyone can feel the withdrawals from no season,” Burkhardt said. “We all needed that outlet that our sports provided.” 

Author Grace Chen from Public School Review goes in-depth to how sports are vital to some students. “Athletics offers teens a physical outlet to exert their troubles, anger, and emotions,” Chen explains. “As hormones alter teens’ moods and thoughts, competition fosters an opportunity for teens to interact with fellow peers, coaches, and mentors, while helping them understand their own abilities and talents.” Coaches at West have stayed active through the media trying to motivate student-athletes to stay active, but most can agree that it just isn’t the same.

But not only are sports being affected, extracurriculars such as theatre are taking a hard hit as well. “We were really happy to get that final goodbye,” said Olivia Vernon, one of the leads in West’s spring play, Steel Magnolias. “So, when the world turned upside down, it was definitely a huge disappointment.” This play, a final one for most of the cast, has been cancelled; leaving an abrupt ending for many seniors. 

A separate debacle for many students is AP testing this spring. With important time to teach content being cut off for almost all schools, the College Board has formed alternate tests for classes. Many of these decrease the testing-forms, which could be harder for some students. A question is also posed of students’ integrity because these tests can be taken from home. Either way, students have been working since September on these classes and many are hoping for college credit, making these tests vital to their success

Aside from extracurriculars, student’s lives are being alternated through digital learning. Without daily interaction some students are struggling to find motivation and help in this unexpected scenario. Señorita Thompson of New Berlin West describes this time as “definitely having an impact on students and teachers.” 

“If anything, I feel like this online learning experience makes it clear that school is about so much more than learning content, it’s about people and connection.” Said English teacher Mrs. Upton as she reflects on how we are missing what school is really about. Without being surrounded by supportive leaders and friends, this is a hard time for most people. 

And while having school taken away without much warning has been difficult, teachers and administration have been working to help students in all ways possible and lighten the heartache. In an email sent to the parents of the NBW upperclassmen, Superintendent Joe Garza gives some hope to students. “We know these events are important to you, and they are to us, as well,” said Garza. “You’ve earned them, and we’ll find a way to honor that.” He continues to explain how the district will do everything in its power to still host prom and graduation, being those are some big final moments of high school.

This rocky experience is something different for us all but it has its own silver linings. Students reflect back on what they had in important ways.  “COVID-19 has turned my senior year completely upside down,” said Senior Sydney Schopf. “I would give a lot to go back.” This new appreciation may create an alternate drive moving forwards.

But for now, students are attempting to navigate this all with hope for the future and value for the past.