By: Conner Mattia
I remember freshman orientation at James Caldwell High School like it was yesterday. It’s crazy to think that it has already been almost four years since then. The thoughts and feelings that I had on that day are still clear to me now. I was incredibly nervous, a little excited, but most importantly, I hoped for my high school experience to be better than middle school.
Freshman year started off a little rough. The combination for my locker wouldn’t work, so I couldn’t use my locker for the first few weeks. Thankfully that was the only real downside of that year. My confidence in comparison to what it was in middle school was much higher. I became good friends with people that I occasionally talked to in middle school and made some new ones. My grades, while not straight As, were good, although I did have an issue with finishing my work in a timely manner. Despite some shortcomings, I definitely grew as a person and felt better about myself than I did in middle school.
If freshman year was a time of growth, sophomore year was a time of understanding that growth and building off of it. I became closer with the friends I made my freshman year. My grades were more or less the same as they were last year, which I was perfectly fine with. This was also the year where I discovered that I needed glasses, which was inevitable no matter how unfortunate that may be. Apart from that, this year was very similar to last year, although it wasn’t as memorable as freshman year was.
Junior year was the weirdest year during my time at JCHS. The first half of the school year was great. Along with the introduction of block scheduling and most of my classes giving light homework, I was able to manage and get my homework done in a timely manner. This gave me a lot of time to focus on outside of school activities, which was difficult for me to do in previous years. I also started taking classes at NJ Film School around this time. In these classes, I was able to develop my filmmaking abilities and expand my knowledge for what I already knew for my passion.
The second half of the year was a completely different story. With the coronavirus spreading around the world, the last few months of the year were spent online. It was overwhelming at first. Some of my classes would assign work on days where I wasn’t supposed to have those classes. The workload was larger overall because what would have been classwork was now being assigned as homework. This heavily affected the ability for me to manage my time well and my work ethic was not nearly as strong as it was in the beginning of the year. I was able to adapt to the schedule pretty well over time, but I was not nearly as efficient as I was at the beginning of the year.
For what should have been the most influential and important year of high school, my senior year has been incredibly underwhelming. Spending the entire school year online isn’t the best medium of gaining experience, but thankfully I have in some areas. I took journalism this year and have been able to further develop my writing skills. Classes at NJ Film School opened up again, which have not changed much with COVID regulations, and I have learned more than ever. Aside from these cases, I don’t feel like I have grown as much as I would have if this had been a normal school year. Despite everyone’s efforts, the days have run together and I have struggled with my motivation. Each week, I kept on saying, “I can’t wait for this school year to be over,” rather than reflecting on the fact that this is my last year at JCHS.
Looking back on my time at JCHS, I would describe it as anti-climactic. I have grown a lot over these last four years, but I know there was much growth that I missed out on because of the pandemic. I am looking forward to what will come next in my life, no matter how terrifying it might be. I will always have fond memories to look back on, memories that will always give me a good laugh. I would like to thank all of the friends and teachers that helped shape me into who I am now along the way.