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Return to school brings unwanted stress

THURS. | 10-28-21 | FEATURES

     Classrooms full of students, games with a full student section, theatrical productions, hallway traffic jams and school fights being a regular occurrence are scenes Rose students haven’t seen or experienced since the 2019-2020 school year.

     Social studies teacher Brian Callahan had rosters of about 30 students last school year, but no more than 20 were face-to-face in each period. That number has increased this school year since students are required to be at school unless they have a medical reason to be virtual. Callahan now has about 30 students face-to-face in each class.

     Junior Virginia Blount is glad to be slowly returning to normal, but the dynamic of last school year has caused her to struggle this year.

     “I was completely virtual second semester last year,” Blount said. “That definitely had a negative impact on me because now junior year is hitting me like a bus and I’m not used to how intense it is.”

     Since Blount was all-virtual the second semester of last year, she was able to do her school work at whatever pace was convenient for her, but this has made being fully in school an immense change to get used to.

     “I was extremely lazy, but a lot of the teachers were extremely lenient so it allowed me to just do [my] assignments and kind of go on with what I wanted to

Virginia Blount

Picture by Kemorah Ullah

do during the day,” Blount said. “Now I’m at school 100 percent, so I can’t just go get lunch in the middle of the day and it’s definitely a big difference.”

     Blount is not alone in her struggles; the changes between last school year and this school year have been hard for many to get used to, including teachers.

     “Maybe we got used to [being virtual] a little too much and now the adjustment has been really difficult for everybody: teachers, students, everyone,” Callahan said.

     Advanced Placement (AP) and Pitt Community College (PCC) courses are another factor that plays into Blount’s academic pressure. She is currently taking AP United States history and AP government at Rose and art appreciation through PCC. Blount usually sits down at her desk to do her homework around 6 pm and finishes no earlier than 11:45 pm.

     “I think the AP and PCC classes are definitely more intense and I’ve noticed that I had a gap from freshman year to junior year,” Blount said. “Sophomore year was supposed to be the transition year, and I just completely missed out on that regarding the fact that I was pretty much home the whole year so I feel like I’ve only been in real classes my freshman year.”

     Blount’s amount of homework has also affected the amount of time she sleeps. The latest she has had to stay up doing homework is 2:45 am and the earliest she has been able to go to bed the entire school year is 12:15 am. This has put a lot of weight on her and she struggles to balance this mental pressure. On a scale of one to ten, Blount would say her stress level is an eight.

     “When I have an assignment that I know I have to do and I don’t know how to do it, that's when the stress kicks in and I start panicking,” Blount said. “I don’t handle stress well and this year being so stressful has kind of hit me hard and it does affect my mental health.”

     Callahan believes that the amount of stress some students are feeling is due to the fact that everything regarding school was on Canvas last year, and now almost everything is on paper.

     “I think some just try to look for the easiest way around something and so now that they can’t figure out the ways on Canvas, they actually have to work.” Callahan said.

     One of the most helpful things for Blount, in this situation, is knowing that other students are going through the exact same struggle as her.

     “A lot of my close friends and I talk to each other about it which kind of helps me debrief and not feel alone,” Blount said.

     Blount is hopeful that her school work and the environment around her will get less stressful as the year goes on. Her best advice to any students who feel overwhelmed is to try your best not to procrastinate and buy yourself a planner. Having a planner was a game changer for Blount when it came to placing all of her responsibilities in front of her and spacing them out accordingly. 

     “My best advice is to get a planner, it really helps,” Blount said. “Make sure it's a lined planner and write down all your homework, times you need to study, and just space your stuff out.”

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