A Fresh Freshman Year


Freshmen Julia Chartier (from left), Taylor Atwood, Alice Coates and Josephine Britt discuss their freshmen year experience in the quad Sept. 3. There has been a lot to discuss because of all the changes made for the COVID- 19 pandemic. photo by Lucy Doerflinger

by Caroline Hinkebin, Sports Editor

Freshman year is an essential time for making friends and transitioning into a new chapter in life: highschool. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the game. Typical bonding activities and STA traditions cannot take place the same way they usually would, as social distancing and mask mandates must be followed. Nevertheless, STA is adjusting to make freshman year as normal as possible. 

Frosh Fest is a freshmen-centered event held annually to help freshmen meet each other. Traditionally, Frosh Fest is held during the first week of school and involves activities such as advisory competitions and yard days where freshmen can eat lunch and spend free periods outside. This year, administrators decided to combine Frosh Fest with Orientation. Orientation was designed to be not only academic with activities like technology training and learning how to navigate Bistro, but also include some fun activities as well such as STA’s spirit club teaching the freshmen the school’s cheers. 

Freshman Saylor Pickard had some thoughts about the spirit club teaching the freshmen the school cheers. 

That was funny because they were trying to hype us up and like no one was doing it,” Pickard said. 

Other orientation activities included meeting advisors, the other freshmen in their advisory and get-to-know-you games. However, meeting new people has proved to be somewhat difficult according to freshman Alice Coates. 

“With social distancing and everything Corona-wise, it’s really difficult to talk to someone during class or after class, just like approaching people,” Coates said.

Freshman Gabi Vovk says that although she believes STA is handling everything that’s being thrown at them extremely well, a difficult aspect of making friends has been not getting to eat lunch with the rest of the freshmen class.

“It kind of put a damper on making friends because a massive place to make friends is lunch and the commons,” Vovk said. 

Instead, freshmen have found social media helpful in making friends. 

“Mutual friends and Snapchat and Instagram really are a huge thing,” Pickard said “I met most of the people from that.”

Principal for student affairs, Dr. Liz Baker says that traditions are very important at STA so it was important to administrators that the freshmen were still able to experience those in the safest environment possible.

“I think my hardest thing is trying to figure out traditions and how do we do them in ways that are safe but also have them,” Baker said. “Trying to maintain and hold on to those kinds of things. And we were like, how can we do that the most safely that we can but also bring it on campus too.” 

The Passing of the Legacy service is an STA tradition in which seniors present freshmen with a medallion and give them a big hug as a sign of sisterhood and passing down the legacy of STA from the seniors to the freshmen. With the pandemic, this ceremony wasn’t exactly the same. 

“They were like, ‘Make direct eye contact and give each other a fake hug,’” Pickard said. “I thought it was kind of funny, and I laughed.”

 Vovk thought it was a sweet idea and she appreciated that they still had the ceremony despite less than ideal circumstances.

“You kind of just wish that we were able to actually hug people,” Coates said. ”It just would’ve made it all the more better.” 

A new addition this year is the launch of the big sister little sister program. Each freshman is paired up with a junior or senior with similar interests and classes to them and that upperclassmen acts as their “big sister” for the year. This program was created and implemented to help freshmen feel more comfortable at STA and to further strengthen the sisterhood. Pickard thinks it’s nice to have someone more experienced to talk to when you have a question.

“I think it’s kind of cool, how we aren’t separated in our own grades, it’s nice to have diversity in between ages and having someone where you can be like, I don’t know what’s happening, can you help me, instead of asking a classmate that doesn’t know either,” Pickard said. 

Though they are new to the school, the freshmen recognize the efforts being made to make their STA experience the best it can possibly be.

“At least we’re at school, that’s definitely my good thing right now,” Coates said. 

Vovk says the emphasis on personal hygiene such as washing your hands often and wiping down desks before class is also a plus.

“I really appreciate how much they’re trying to keep us in school and healthy at the same time,” Vovk said.

Freshman year can already be a difficult and transitional time for young people, and the pandemic does bring along with it a few stressors.

“The distance is really hard and also just the whole pandemic thing in general is really stressful,” Vovk said. “I don’t worry about me getting it but I’m worried about giving it to my family.” 

On the other hand, Coates thinks starting freshman year during a pandemic could be turned into a positive.

“I feel like looking back, maybe a couple of years from now, it’s gonna be a once in a lifetime kind of experience,” Coates said.