By Uma Ribeiro, Marissa Yelenik, and Sarah Meklir

Editor-in-Chief, Online Editor, and Managing Editor

Pictured left to right: Saim Rizvi, Shivani Modi, and Julia Moyer, standing in front of their class’s work.

Freshman and seniors (9th and 12th grade) students as well as Application and Research Laboratory (ARL) students in group A for hybrid learning returned to the building on Monday, March 29th. Group B students returned on Thursday, April 1st. 

High school students in grades 10 and 11 who chose hybrid learning will be returning the week of April 12th, with those in hybrid group A returning on the 12th and those in group B on the 15th. 

The Bear Press (BP) interviewed 9th and 12th grade students who chose the hybrid learning model and returned to school the week of March 29th. 

BP: What made you decide to return to the building this year? Do you feel this was the right decision for you so far?

Julia Moyer (senior): I miss seeing people in person and I felt that in-person learning would be good for my mental health as well as my learning.

Shivani Modi (senior): I returned to the building because I learn best in a classroom setting and I missed seeing my teachers everyday.

Saim Rizvi (senior): I got sick of online school and staring at a screen all day. Seeing my friends is a really important part of school to me.

Brandon Nguyen (freshman): I chose to return to school believing that it would’ve somewhat more normal and have a chance to get out of the house more. The main reason was really just to see friends.

BP: How do you feel about coming back to Hammond?

Julia Moyer (senior): I was a bit anxious about returning to the building because of the changes due to COVID as well as the construction, but so far it’s been pretty fun. The school is just really empty. 

Shivani Modi (senior): I was initially hesitant to come back when I woke up exhausted on Monday morning. But I was so happy after a day full of talking to my teachers and friends, being able to ask questions in class, and just getting that social interaction I was missing from online school. 

Saim Rizvi (senior): It’s nice even though there’s not a lot of people. I think it’s actually a lot better than the past month I was working online. It’s cool to see even two to three people, and brings a lot to the entire experience.

Brandon Nguyen (freshman): Hammond’s always seemed hard to locate physically but all of the teachers seem really friendly

BP: Upon returning to the building, what was your reaction to the renovations and changes made due to Covid?

Julia Moyer (senior): The front of the building is completely gone, but I do not really go down there so it doesn’t affect me that much.  

Shivani Modi (senior): I was initially hesitant to come back when I woke up exhausted on Monday morning. But I was so happy after a day full of talking to my teachers and friends, being able to ask questions in class, and just getting that social interaction I was missing from online school. 

Saim Rizvi (senior): It’s pretty weird, especially things like the arrows on the ground. It’s a clear change, and with the hallways being as empty as they are, it feels even weirder, although it is about what I expected.

Brandon Nguyen (freshman): Returning is always nice, especially since you have an option to go or stay at home. Going [in-person] gave me no regrets. It was nice to see people again.

BP: What are the easiest and hardest aspects of returning to in-person learning?

Julia Moyer (senior): Getting up early and being presentable by 7:30 is definitely an adjustment. Being in school for the whole day is socially exhausting. However, it’s really nice to see people and say hi to people. 

Shivani Modi (senior): The easiest part of in-person learning is definitely being able to collaborate with my friends during class. Instead of breakout rooms, we can actually talk in person. The hardest part is waking up in the morning. I can’t wake up at 7:45 AM and just log in anymore!

Saim Rizvi (senior): The easiest thing would be the general nature of in-person classes. My classes in particular are definitely easy in this format. The hardest would be… actually, there really is nothing difficult about it. The only thing that’s hard is waking up and coming every morning.

Brandon Nguyen (freshman): Just being able to meet people was really nice. The easiest part is probably being able to stay on task. There’s nothing distracting you. The hardest is probably staying focused and in class the whole time.

BP: How has this decision impacted your senior year? Are there any senior year experiences you feel like you will still get to partake in? Are there any that you already have?

Shivani Modi (senior): I tried to enjoy this past year in the safest way possible, and I did. I feel lucky that I was able to spend the warm seasons of my senior year hanging out outdoors with my friends. Sure, we missed out on main senior year events like homecoming, prom, senior skip day, and the tens of other events Hammond seniors normally have, but at the end of the day, I loved senior year. I think choosing to come back to school was the best decision for me because I had one more chance to be back in the building and feel some normalcy for a little while.

Saim Rizvi (senior): It’s been good for my senior year. I was getting tired of online school, so I think it has made it a bit better. I’m looking forward to doing really anything we’re allowed to do. Seeing people before we leave is a great experience.

BP: How does it feel to learn in-person after remaining virtual for the duration of the pandemic thus far?

Julia Moyer (senior): It’s definitely an adjustment. I’m so used to learning through a screen, but now my teachers are sitting in the same room as me. 

Shivani Modi (senior): It feels so refreshing. I finally don’t have to force myself to learn at home five feet from my bed. Now, I can separate work from relaxing, which is something I had struggled with during virtual learning.

Saim Rizvi (senior): It’s pretty much the same. There are still people online, so while the teacher is in the meet, I’m just kinda here. It’s just nice to be in person even though it’s not that different. It’s just really nice to be able to see people.

BP: Have you yet received a vaccine? If so, how far along in the vaccination process are you? If not, when will you be eligible and do you plan on getting vaccinated? How has the vaccine impacted your decision/comfort in returning to school?

Julia Moyer (senior): I have received my first vaccine and will get my second one in a few weeks. I think first and foremost the teachers should be prioritized for vaccine.

Shivani Modi (senior): I plan on getting vaccinated as soon as I become eligible at the end of April. I think I feel more comfortable because everyone I live with–including high risk individuals–has been vaccinated. Although I’m not vaccinated yet, I was okay with going back to school because I’m low-risk and I know how to stay safe during the school day.

Important note: as of the date this article was published, all individuals 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Pictured from left to right: Saim Rizvi, Shivani Modi, and Julia Moyer