How the Future Class of 2024 Copes with Quarantine

Abigail C. '21, Reporter

Throughout the world, sympathy was poured out for seniors who have to miss the end of their last year in high school. However, the public has forgotten another population going through the same struggles: eighth graders. Padua’s future class of 2024 is coping with the same feelings of sadness, anxiety, and a lack of closure for the middle school career, but no one is there to help them through it.

Abigail C. ’21
“It’s sad to think that we don’t get the recognition because no one really understands what we’re missing out on. No one really realizes that this is basically the last year of my childhood,” said Counihan.

During quarantine, four rising freshmen agreed to explain their feelings. Audrey Counihan, an 8th grader at Immaculate Heart of Mary school, explained what it was like when she learned that she would have two weeks off of school because of the virus. “I remember everyone was so happy. We were jumping for joy and everyone was screaming and so excited. Everyone was like, ‘We’re gonna have sleepovers, we’re going to go to each other’s houses, we’re going to hang out.’ We really didn’t get it.”

Amelia Maguire, an 8th grader at St. John the Beloved, felt the same way when she heard the news. “I was excited because I didn’t feel like I really enjoyed school that much. And then, once they actually cancelled it… I want to go back.”

Once it became clear that this virus wasn’t going away within two weeks, or even two months, Immaculate Heart of Mary eighth grader Sophia Dempsey was devastated. “I was sad because I had looked forward to everything for so long and then I realized that it would be canceled.”

According to Counihan, the hardest part about missing school is not seeing her friends. “I’m fine with doing school from home. That aspect of the coronavirus isn’t really what’s making me sad. I’m sad that I’m not able to see my friends. If I could still do online school, but just be able to see my friends, then it’ll be a different story.”

Dempsey agreed, saying, “I miss talking to my friends. I miss hanging out during recess. And I just miss the face to face contact.”

Counihan elaborated to say that she is especially upset about missing her friends because, “the next time that I go to school it’s going to be with completely different people… and even though people [from middle school] say that they will stay in touch during high school, friendships often fizzle out when you are not always around each other. You can say you want to keep in touch, but it is hard when you form new friendships to stay in touch with old ones.”

Abigail C. ’21
“I’ve been at the school for 10 years. And the one last year that we get to do everything and have the most freedom, we’re missing it all,” said Maguire.

Aside from missing friends, eighth graders are also missing their rites of passage. “All throughout middle school, this is the one year you really look forward to, the one year you get the most freedom and the most extra activities. And now that we’re all stuck at home, everything is canceled and we won’t be able to do any of them,” said Maguire.

Counihan agreed, saying, “All of this fun stuff that you’ve been hearing about since you were younger, I’m not gonna be able to do any of it.”

Surprisingly enough, each of the four eighth graders interviewed would take any chance to go back to school, even if it was just for one week. They couldn’t believe how their feelings about school had changed. “I think it would be worth it [to go back to school]. Then I get to catch up with my friends and see what they’ve been doing, even if it was just for one week,” said Dempsey.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that they will have this chance. As for how their last year will end, many middle schools have not updated students. “They haven’t told us anything, but they have told us that they’re talking about it…,” said Counihan.

At Maguire’s school, the response has been similar. “They did send us an email saying that… once the government has made a firm decision, then they can start making more formal decisions about what’s going to happen to graduation. But until that happens, they don’t know,” she said.

Many eighth graders wish their school had done more to help them make the transition to high school during a pandemic. “I don’t think that they realize that most of us are terrified for high school because it’s a new environment and new people,” said Counihan.

Abigail C. ’21
“I miss talking to my friends, I miss hanging out during recess, and I just miss the face to face contact,” said Dempsey.

Dempsey agreed, saying, “I wish that they had given us a little bit more of an explanation of what they mean by ‘We’re getting it figured out.’”

And, amid this uncertainty and lack of support, many eighth graders feel that their situation has been overlooked by others. “High schoolers make fun of us. Everyone is making fun of us [on social media and saying] ‘Did you guys realize that when we go back to school, we’re gonna have to be with the eighth graders?’ and everyone in the comments is like ‘Yeah I’m dropping out,’” said Counihan.

One event that people on social media have mocked eighth graders for feeling upset about is their graduation. Maguire argued that eighth grade graduation is important, “because it’s the milestone of moving on to like the older years and the future of your education. Because middle school and elementary school is the building blocks for the rest of your life. So, I think it’s probably as important as high school, and maybe even college.”

“They don’t understand that, especially at a Catholic school… We’ve been with them for 10 years. We’ve seen each other grow up, we’ve been to birthday parties, we’ve gone on field trips together, we’ve been teamed up in sports. We’ve done all these things together. And even if we haven’t been the bestest of friends, we’ve still been there for each other all these years,” said Counihan.

“I think it matters because we had to spend all that time through middle school and now we don’t get a proper ending,” said Emily Masci, an eighth grader from Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

Abigail C. ’21
“I do think the Seniors do deserve more credit [than eighth graders] just because it’s a bigger experience for them, but I wish there was more [recognition] for the eighth grade,” said Masci.

As eighth graders look ahead to their freshman year at Padua, their fears are just as big. “I’m scared that I’m gonna miss out on freshman initiation and all the fun stuff that you got to do that was a bonding experience… I’m not going to be able to meet people, so I’m just going to have to go into school, not knowing anyone, and not knowing the school,” said Counihan.

Maguire was also worried about catching up on the schoolwork she didn’t learn while social distancing. “I think what I’m most nervous about is not knowing what I should because we can’t do all the same work that we could in school… I’m nervous about coming to Padua and starting classes and not being up to speed,” she said.

Also, eighth graders fear that their first high school experience will be online school. “I think that it’s just gonna be a little bit more difficult, especially if we have to do online school,” said Masci.

Dempsey agreed, saying, “I feel nervous that coronavirus will come back and then I’ll be doing online school. And I won’t know exactly what to expect from that. My [current] teachers, I know them, but I feel like it would be very hard to do online school with teachers but I don’t really know.”

But, although this is upsetting, Dempsey said it helps her to take a step back from the situation. Dempsey said, “People are out there dying. So, I guess I’m not the top priority right now.”