8th Graders Reflect On The Changes of This Year

8th+Graders+Reflect+On+The+Changes+of+This+Year

Sam Lambert

COVID-19 sucks. Everyone has sacrificed a lot because of this pandemic, but Westminster’s 8th-graders have faced some extra-hard losses this year. After two years of freedom, now the 8th-grade requires constant supervision. Even though they experienced these freedoms before and will experience them again when they become freshmen, the 8th-graders cannot even dismiss themselves from school to go home because of the new addition of PikMyKid. They also lost lockers, freedom of whom they eat lunch with, and seeing their friends outside of their classes. Circumstances are very different for students who had a taste of these freedoms, only to have them abruptly taken away. The loss of these freedoms is understandable, of course, given the pandemic; however, it is still a difficult change for those who are so used to pre-COVID Middle School life. 

The 8th graders have had to come to terms with the removal of the 8th-grade retreat, not having their 7th or 8th grade dance, and losing the campus center privileges on the year 8th grade was supposed to get them most. 8th-grader Eva Bevington, like many other 8th graders, feels disappointed about all the changes of this year. “I feel like eighth grade has been a year I’ve looked forward to for a while, and I remember being new last year and hearing about the eighth graders’ retreat and being so excited for ours and the dance and everything else we ended up missing out on.” However, Bevington is grateful for Westminster’s ability to be in person and for everyone’s efforts to salvage what they can of the 8th-grade experience. “ I think this year has been underwhelming in a lot of ways, but I know how hard everyone is working to make it a good year and I’m very appreciative of that.” 

8th-grader Hayden Githuku believes that while this year has had its downsides, she is grateful for the chances given for us to relax and have fun. “I feel a bit upset that we got to miss out on all these opportunities that prior 8th-grade years classes have received,” says Githuku, “but I do notice the bigger picture that COVID has limited us to only so much and our [administration] is trying our best to still give us stuff like break days and fun days which we didn’t have (as much) last year.” 

Others feel that regardless of the challenges this past year has brought on, people have stayed strong and managed to continue building bonds with each other. 8th-grader Diya Varma feels that her friends have grown together and continued friendships. “Though we have had a lot of things taken or lost the privilege of having due to COVID, I feel that we found other ways to stay close as a friend group, and I feel like we have gotten a lot closer.” 

8th-grader Anna Cureton agrees that people have still been able to connect even during this global pandemic. “The changes this year due to COVID have been very difficult especially because this is our last year of middle school,” says Cureton, “but I’m glad that we’re finding some alternatives to still have fun and spend time with friends that we don’t have in our normal classes.” Overall, 8th-graders seem to share similar views; the changes have not gone unnoticed and have been upsetting at times. However, they understand why everything has changed. Also, they’ve taken the opportunity to grow closer to the people around them.

Catherine Zidow, 8th-grade girls’ Grade Chair, also sympathizes with the Middle School’s oldest grade. She wishes that 8th-grade could have kept all of the usual traditions and privileges. “I feel devastated. [pause] Cause I feel like, you know, by the time you’re in 8th-grade, you guys have earned the privilege of having those extra experiences, and I think they’re defining experiences for your bond that I think is necessary in the Upper School.” Losing many of the highly-anticipated opportunities and time to spend with friends is difficult for 8th-graders to face, and the devastation was very evident to everyone. Zidow expresses sadness about all of the changes the 8th graders had to experience; however, she is confident that these changes will remain until the norm is safe again. “I don’t see [removal/changing of the safety protocols] happening in 2021, this school year.” says Zidow. “I think for the 8th-grade class it’s more about looking forward to the Upper School transition.” This school year, she does not anticipate much change; however, she acknowledges that the 8th grader’s transition to the Upper School will return a lot of the lost freedoms. 

As this school year is coming to an end, the 8th-graders reflect on all of the losses and all that they’ve endured. However, the 8th-graders also acknowledge all of the good and growth throughout the year. Fun days have been a hit, and bonding has still been possible among friends; even sports and other extracurricular activities were still able to happen. The consensus is that 8th grade has been a good year so far for the class of 2025, and hopefully, high school can have even more freedoms and be even better for these resilient students.