Coming back to an on campus, mask optional school year, there’d be reason to believe that things would appear back to pre-COVID life at Ursuline. Yet, there’s something peculiar about this year’s sophomore grade.
Normally, freshman and sophomores have more differences than similarities. The sophomores know the turns and twists of campus, while the freshman wander around campus looking for their classes. Sophomores have mastered the flow of the block schedule, where the freshman are periodically seen at the wrong lunches. The sophomores have met most of their upperclassmen while the freshman steer out of the way of anyone not wearing a green fob. But this year, it seems Ursuline has two freshman classes.
Not traditionally ending eighth grade due to the beginnings of the pandemic, the Class of ‘24 started off their freshman year with an irregular introduction to Ursuline. Sophomore Amuyla Vajja said that when accepted to the school they received a virtual introduction call alongside various online resources to help them with their start at Ursuline. “Even though I knew we had to keep the school COVID safe – I still wish I had gotten a normal high school induction,” she said.
It wasn’t till halfway through last school year that Ursuline returned to learn in-person. This meant that the Class of ‘24 only got a few months to learn their own high school campus before breaking for summer. Natalie Rich said, “When we came in person, I tried to explore as much as campus as possible but there was a lot of construction, so I only got to memorize a few parts of campus.” This school year, their dose of familiarity they might have acquired became almost irrelevant, as Ursuline’s construction of East Campus and Fox Dining was completed. Leaving this year’s Sophomores, with a whole new campus and back to where they started.
Alongside their unfamiliarity with the campus, they also faced freshman’s greatest challenge: the shifting block schedule, infamous for confusing freshman. Trying to limit classroom exposure, the 2020-2021 schedule was just a block with no shifts, no special assemblies and no class meetings –there was even a Community Wednesday which allowed students to stay at home, have virtual club , class, advisory meetings and prepare for next day’s rounds of classes. Coming back to normalcy, the shifting schedule, with Wednesdays included, confused both the class of ‘24 and ‘25. Sophomore Berkely Bundy said, “I always keep my planner in reaching distance so when I get confused, I’ll be able to double check where I’m supposed to be…I find myself looking at my planner a lot.”
Lastly, due to only having a few months on the same campus, many of this year’s sophomores didn’t get to create a close bond with their upperclassmen. In order to follow COVID precautions, the Class of ‘24 missed out on long held traditions such as the freshman dance, retreat, mixers, and masses. Leaving the Class of ‘24 behind on sisterhood bonding. Manahil Gill ‘22 said, “I always feel like the sophomores are strangers to me – I wish I would’ve gotten to know them more last year.”
Either way, both the juniors and seniors are better getting to know their underclassmen sisters, welcoming them into the Ursuline community with open arms. “Whether they’re sophomores or freshman, I can’t wait to show our little ‘sisters’ around and teach them what it’s truly like to be an Ursuline Bear,” Ainsley Lewis ’22 said.