Montclair High School Students Cope With Loss, Work To Stay Connected in COVID-19 World

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students all around the country have been learning through virtual school. Montclair High School has been online since March 13th. Many school related events have been cancelled or postponed, such as the March SAT, the Dance Company show, the Robotics competition, countless school field trips, and all spring sports.

“It all sucks so much, but it makes sense why those events have to be cancelled,” says Adria, a senior who was set to perform in her last Dance Company show ever.

Sadly, extracurricular activities aren’t the only thing students are missing. Matt, a junior, notes that “Although, the school has done a good job of getting an online schooling system in place in a short amount of time, the online classes do not compare to having a physical teacher and being in a classroom environment.”

Most teachers have been accommodating, students say, but it can be hard to get in touch with them.

“I miss being able to ask questions and clarify things right when I have the question rather than sending an email and having to wait for a response,” says Ella, a freshman.

Fortunately for Ella, she will have three more years to experience MHS. Unfortunately for older students, they are feeling shortchanged from the full high school experience.

Sarah, a junior, says the only time she has left her house has been to go on walks and to say goodbye to a foreign exchange student who had to go back to Italy.

“He really fought to stay here for the rest of the year, but there’s issues with health care coverage for exchange students in the US.”

More than this, the pandemic is amplifying uncertainty surrounding students’ future prospects.

“I could’ve used this year to build my resume for college because I’m trying to play baseball in college,” says Will, a junior who was looking forward to making a big impact on his team. Many juniors expected this spring to be an opportunity for them to strengthen their college application. Sarah, for example, doesn’t know what she wants to pursue in the future and was “relying on touring colleges over Spring break to hopefully gain more clarity.”

Coronavirus has also affected the personal lives of many students.

Sophie, a junior who is usually busy rowing, says “I’ve been baking and watching a LOT of Netflix… I also talk to my friends for like four hours a day on Facetime if I need help with homework or if I am really bored.”

Sarah, in addition to picking up old hobbies like making earrings, has tried to keep a level of normalcy in her life.

“I’ve been staying up really late on the phone with people because once it gets late it doesn’t feel like social distancing anymore. It just feels like being up late with friends,” she says.

Beyond their own difficulties and disappointments, students are also worried about their families.

Layah, a junior, says “I am really afraid my mom could get it because she works in a hospital.” And if fear wasn’t enough, her sister has lost her job, too.

Some students say that while Montclair High School is trying to do all it can to ensure students continue learning, it’s just not the same.

Especially for seniors, who wanted to finish out their last days of high school spending time with friends. They are concerned that they will likely miss out on prom, college t-shirt day, and maybe even graduation.

Will, a senior, had this to say about staying at home for a good portion of his last year at high school.

“It might not be the rite-of-passage senior experience that I was looking forward to, but it will certainly be one that I can always say was unique.”


Georgia Chen is a junior at Montclair High School.

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