Fishies in face masks


Freshmen Ethan Wait, Alex Schroer and Luke Hines walk to lunch after band class. Students have been following the A, B, C, D lunch schedule to help reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one given time.

Students entering the building at the sound of the bell, crowded hallways with eager freshmen rushing to get to their classes on time, cafeterias full of conversation and laughter. This is what freshmen expected their first day of high school to look like. Waking up minutes before class and relocating from their bed to the kitchen counter was the odd reality they faced instead. 

With the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic, students were required to transition from middle to high school from their homes, as all LISD students started the 2020-21 school year with remote learning for the first three weeks. On Sept. 8, students were given a choice to come back to school, continue working virtually or a mix of the two.

Freshman Sydney Carroll sings the national anthem during choir. Students are able to sing for 30 minutes, but must stop and wait 30 minutes before singing again in order to limit the spread of particles in the air. “It’s almost business as usual in choir,” Carroll said. “We’re still doing the same songs we would be and we’re still singing, it’s just performances that are different because they’ll just be a video or online.”

“Our students have done an awesome job virtually and in person,” freshman campus principal Amanda Werneke said. “I think they are trying to navigate and do the right thing. We’ve had a lot of students who are very excited to be back in the building, see some of their friends and physically go to class. They’ve done a great job with masks and IDs so far, so we’re really happy that they are off to a great start.”

While some students have opted for the completely virtual option, others have chosen in-person or virtual plus in order to participate in extracurricular activities. Freshman Sydney Carroll chose to return fully in person for extracurricular purposes, including courses like choir and theater. While there are still specific restrictions that must be followed, such as time limits on singing, the programs are still up and running.

“I chose to do in-person because I get distracted easily,” Carroll said. “I retain information better if all I have to do [is] watch the teacher and write down notes. I expected high school to be whatever I saw in the movies: people not paying attention in class [and] just chaos. [The reality] is definitely different because of COVID, so it’s not as chaotic. It was a little bit disappointing.” 

As a part of the virtual plus option, students are able to take specific classes in person, such as extracurriculars, while taking other courses from home. Freshman Aayan Patel follows this schedule and has one in-person class: band.

Freshman Aayan Patel practices marching after school with the rest of the woodwinds. Patel made wind symphony, an uncommon occurrence among freshmen, so he decided to take the risk of doing virtual plus. “People are really trying to push and give us the best experience, while trying to rehearse as much as possible in the safest ways, to create something close to the experience we would have in a normal school year,” Patel said.

“It was a tough decision for us, but at the end of the day, we didn’t want to take the risk of me coming to school a lot [because] I have some at-risk family members at home,” Patel said. “Band is something I really wanted to do and I wanted to stay active in it, so we decided that just for band, it was OK. That was probably the biggest risk we were willing to take.”

Along with the regular struggles and anxieties that come with starting ninth grade, students are having to navigate their way into a new schedule with the fear of catching the virus. 

“Many of our students are really thriving,” Werneke said. “Some of them are thriving virtually, some of them are thriving here, and some are doing a great job remotely. It’s been a challenge, but it’s a labor of love. We have a great team here and I am very thankful for that.”