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“I have had my share of nights crying tears of feeling like I am not doing enough, ” writes Junior Ramaya Thomas. “Feeling like I needed to give myself a break or feeling like I didn’t get the perfect grade so I’m not going to be successful.”

Artwork by Ramaya Thomas, VOX Teen Staff

‘It Became a Nightmare’: Juniors Speak Out on Navigating High School’s Trickiest Year — In a Pandemic

by share

Within our entire high school experience, we have 2 million minutes. Two million minutes we will spend either studying for exams, doing school projects, spending time with friends, playing our favorite sport, or simply being what the typical high school student entails. 

As I have matriculated through almost two full semesters of junior year, I just want to say you have been my hardest year yet. For some reason, I didn’t believe the adults or high school graduates when they said junior year is really going to humble you or this was definitely going to be a hard year, because quite honestly school had always come easy. 

Yet, I didn’t realize I would have to be juggling the day-to-day classes, stressing about where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life after high school, taking the SAT/ACT, finding scholarships, extra curriculums, and, sh*t, a pandemic. 

Pardon my language, but this school year has been so hard. I have had my share of nights crying tears of feeling like I am not doing enough, feeling like I needed to give myself a break or feeling like I didn’t get the perfect grade so I’m not going to be successful. Interestingly, I thought I was the only one going through this. But many of my peers were feeling the same way I was, stressing about similar things, and trying to find ways to piece back our lives that had been shattered by so much. 

Often times, I think situations can be 10 times harder when we feel like we are the only ones going through them so I wanted to take a moment to share other juniors’ perspectives on this difficult year. You’ll be surprised to know, although we may not all know each other, we are going through pretty similar things. 

Tamara Morgan, homeschooled, 17: “Honestly, junior year has been hell for me. Second semester junior year grades count and colleges look at those first and move on to senior year grades and it’s so challenging. Chemistry make me not feel like doing it because it’s so hard and it feels pointless because I don’t even plan on going into the STEM career field. I am balancing Trigonometry, Algebra 2, and Function Notation which has nothing to do with paying a mortgage. I have realized that many of us are taking classes that won’t correlate to what we are passionate about in life. How is trigonometry going to help me as an actor memorize my lines for the next four hours before going on set?”

Isabella Cavienss, Westlake High School, 17: “I was under the impression that my junior year would be a walk in the park because everything we did was at the comfort of our own home. You have access to study materials, lounge around, and all the snacks you need. The perfect scenario, right? The answer is No. I gradually started to shift as a student. It was difficult to manage to be a student who had IB and Honors classes having to do rigorous work. I noticed the problem was that now our educational institution became our home. Our home became the school. For juniors, there is this double worry about your academic standing in high school but you need to be concerned about applying for scholarships and practicing for your standardized tests. It became a nightmare.”

Alexandria Joel, Drew Charter School,16: “My whole school career, I’ve been told that junior year will be my most stressful one but the true difficulty I was facing never resonated until I was actually living through it. This year had been especially hard for everyone, obviously, with the pandemic. But with the stress of important tests like the ACT and SAT, getting ready to apply to colleges, the tremendous workload, and on top of all of that extracurriculars, a lot of us juniors went through a rollercoaster this year. Although it has been stressful, it has also been a learning experience, I improved my own time management and learned how to be more independent rather than leaning on my teachers. So, all in all, it was an experience that I’ll be able to look back on and take bits and pieces to apply to future experiences.” 

Many students are aware that there is a difference between them being academically lazy and simply mentally exhausted from trying to aim for this perfect student colleges are asking for. With this mental exhaustion, many of us are realizing this clicking clock of two million minutes is almost done within one more year. It’s crazy that so many of us will be graduating soon even though we literally were just the new freshmen roaming the crowded halls of high school. To be honest, these two million minutes moved quickly. 

Although this has been one of the most challenging years for junior year students I think we have proven we got this. 

One day at a time we are working to the day that we will finally be able to throw up our caps and be proud of our success. Until that day comes, enjoy these two million minutes, take the time to yourself while balancing your studies, but most importantly, know you aren’t alone. From one junior year student to another, I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see more of your success.



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