A Unique High School Experience
Students across the Valley Catholic campus have returned back to in-person learning. The return back to campus is also a rebuilding time at Valley Catholic rather than resuming back to normalcy. The senior class are the only students who have ever completed a full year of learning on campus – during their freshman year.
As a campus community, we have been reflecting on life 18 months into the pandemic and the new normal that came with it. For this issue of Spirit Magazine, we have asked some of our students from the class of 2022 to share their thoughts about their unique high school experience and reflections after a year and half of remote learning and social distancing.
I have truly valued the opportunities this small school has opened up for me. One of them being the opportunity to become Valley Catholic’s Student Ambassador – who is able to share insight about our school and my personal experience with prospective students. This was especially fun and interesting due to COVID. Obviously, COVID changed a lot about the way we go about our day to day lives, but being able to attend a smaller school meant that my education stayed streamlined. I was extremely grateful for this as well as many more opportunities that Valley brought me during COVID. I have been able to reconnect with so many of my friends through school and outside activities, such as soccer. I never imagined that I would be living through a pandemic but so goes life. I think this past year and a half has taught us a lot about gratefulness and thankfulness, especially when it comes to relatives and family. I’m grateful to be in the place I am today in regards to family and school and wouldn’t change my high school experience for the world.
This high school experience has been very different from what I expected and not just because of COVID. I walked in those doors not really knowing what was going to happen, who I’d meet, or who I’d become. Luckily, I found a group of friends that have been there for me since my first week of freshman year. The community kept me interested in what Valley Catholic is and stands for. It made me realize through my darkest hours, I have a group of people that are always there for me and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I’m also so grateful for everything I’ve been taught by my wonderful teachers. One thing I’m so happy about at Valley is that I can just walk into a classroom of a teacher when they’re on break and get help on anything from their class that I need. This has been an integral part of keeping up with all of the many lessons going on in every single class. From angles to significant figures and sentence diagramming, I’ve taken everything I’ve ever learned at this school and plan to use it for the rest of my life.
Going into high school I really did not know what to expect. Coming from a small school with only 25 kids in my class, I had no idea what it would be like to be in high school. Most of what I expected were those cliches commonly found in books or on television. I expected most of the school to be split into cliques, like the jocks, nerds, etc. What I found couldn’t have been further from that expectation. At Valley, I feel a sense of oneness throughout the school, meaning no one could be excluded from any group – you are not defined by your clique. I have many friends that have many different interests as I do, and I did not expect it to be so easy to flow between friend groups.
I have learned to be myself. I have always been very shy and reserved. My first year and half at Valley I often kept to myself and was not really outgoing. I was scared I would be judged for who I am. It was the friends I made who taught me I could be myself without judgement, and they were right. No one cares what you do or who you are – no matter what, you will be accepted.
My priorities have changed since March 2020, and not only because of the pandemic. With the maturity I have gained over the years, I have begun to realize that grades should not be my top priority. I have begun to prioritize things such as spending time with friends and family during the past two years, even though I do keep schoolwork a top priority. Over time I realized that it is important to cherish my friends and family as I will be going away to college soon.
Almost every aspect of my life is different now compared to pre-pandemic. I have spent more time with my family, especially with my brother being home more and being able to grow closer with him. I did not have that relationship with him before the pandemic because he was away at college. I have also found a solid group of friends that encourage me to be the best version of myself, something I did not always have.
One thing I’m so happy about at Valley is that I can just walk into a classroom of a teacher when they’re on break and get help on anything from their class that I need. This has been an integral part of keeping up with all of the many lessons going on in every single class. From angles to significant figures and sentence diagramming, I’ve taken everything I’ve ever learned at this school and plan to use it for the rest of my life.
Because of COVID, I’ve definitely learned to adapt through challenging times of my life. To feel so isolated like that truly made me grow as a person and appreciate the support I get here at school. The community is what I missed the most and I couldn’t be happier to be back and be able to see everybody again. I can go to my classes every day and look around to see a room full of people eager to get the most out of what they’re being taught and that is what I value the most.
Since the pandemic started, my life has drastically changed. As a three-sport athlete, I was used to being active and outside. But due to COVID, I had no fall or winter sporting events my junior year. Thanks to OSAA and Valley Catholic, they made it possible for thousands of student-athletes to play fall and winter sports in the spring with a condensed season. My life now has changed from rolling out of bed at 8:20 a.m. and logging on to Zoom to getting up at 6:45 a.m. and leaving the house by 7:40 a.m. to get to school early. Sports has changed my life during the pandemic. I had always talked about dropping a sport, but since COVID I have decided to keep playing baseball, basketball, and soccer because I realized how much I would miss playing all of them.
I haven’t been at Valley Catholic High School my whole high school experience but it is definitely one of the most memorable. Valley Catholic was not what I expected it to be. In my almost two years of being here I have learned more about myself than I could have thought I would. Besides the great classes and teachers, there is a great environment within the students and so many events, sports, and clubs you can attend to learn more about yourself and others. Valley Catholic does a great job of making the school really about the students and how they feel.
I have learned more about myself and what I want to study when I head off to college. The courses I take here are engaging and interactive. I have learned about what it means to be a community and how important it is to raise each other up and really be there for each other.
Since March of 2020, I have learned to value the time I have with my friends and family. It is hard not being around everyone all the time but when we are together we make it worth the while.
I have since learned to live with an open mind and open arms. It is important to make everyone feel included and to make sure we take time to really get to know each other. We can learn so much from one another and this can make anyone feel like they belong in a community.
Zhixin Sophia Han
I am an international student at Valley Catholic High School. I stayed in Valley Catholic for all of my high school years. My experience is probably different with people in the local community. For me, Valley is my second home. When I first came to Valley Catholic, I knew nothing about America and barely spoke English. I needed a lot more help from teachers than many students do. I was struggling.
I could not understand the articles we read in classes, and most of the time, I did not understand teachers’ lectures. However, teachers in Valley Catholic are just like family; they always have patience with me and are willing to help. With their help, not only did I improve academically, but I also developed individuality.
In these four years at Valley Catholic, I learned the most precious skill – reflection. It is a skill that can be implemented in academic and personal life. Only when I observe my behaviors and reflect on them can I find the problems in me. So I can improve and fix them to become a better me.