We are proud to share this guest post by Brianna Byars, a sophomore at Incarnate Word High School, about her experience as a high school student during the pandemic, as part of our Student Stories series.
Over the past years of the pandemic, many issues and concerns have risen when speaking upon the subject of school. Many children found that they enjoyed the in-person school environment more than being at home. Some learned that they preferred the at-home route. We have all learned about many aspects of ourselves, including myself. My name is Brianna Byars, and I am currently attending Incarnate Word High School. I am a sophomore going into my second semester of the school year.
Experiencing High School At Home and In Person
My high school journey has been reflective of the pandemic and the toll it has taken on American society. Freshman year was completed through online schooling; I did the first semester of sophomore year online as well, and am currently attending school in person. I enjoyed being at home because I had the freedom to go to the bathroom and get snacks whenever I want. But I have also been enjoying attending in person due to how smooth it is to communicate with others.
Being in-person also has other benefits, such as the ability to find the counselors whenever I need to ask questions or for advice on topics like colleges and careers. Incarnate Word High School offers a rigorous academic program, including classes such as anatomy, psychology and sociology, government, creative writing, and many others to help you sharpen your skills. Along with the academics, Incarnate Word High School offers a mod schedule (short for modular) that mimics college schedules, preparing students for an easier transition into higher education.
Choosing a High School Based on Your Interests
When I began the search for my high school, I had a hard time deciding where to go, since this choice was going to help along the path of my career. I chose Incarnate Word High School due to their intense academics program, and was originally hoping to pursue a career in physical therapy. Interestingly enough, the pandemic allowed me to take a closer look at my choices and found that there was a common theme in my interests, specifically media and storytelling. Having finally figured out what I really enjoy, I have honed my skills in creative writing, and take the advice from my English teachers to heart, since it may help me in the future.
After being in high school for almost two years, I fondly look back on my days in middle school. I think back to my interests, passions, and dreams that heavily influenced my choices. My advice for middle schoolers is not to put too much pressure on themselves to pick the right place. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, don’t worry—you will have plenty of time to discover your passions and dreams. When picking a school, make sure that it has additional programs that you are interested in, or ones that seem interesting. Choosing a school based only on your current feelings is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. The pandemic has taught all of us that things change, and nothing stays the same. So make sure to leave some wiggle room when making your choice.
Another subject you should focus on when choosing a high school is how you felt doing in-person learning versus at-home learning. Let your experiences and emotions on this topic help you decide which environment you prefer. You must be comfortable in the space that you are learning, so make sure to think about that when choosing your future high school. If your institution of choice doesn’t offer online learning, then consider whether this is a big factor to you or not. I personally have experienced both environments in this school year, and this has allowed me to decide which environment to consider next year. There are benefits and cons to both environments, some outweighing others. For example, I enjoy the flexibility of at home, and how I can use technology in my learning. However, I also enjoy the ability to go to school events in person.
Students Speaking Up and Making Choices
During the pandemic I have learned to appreciate the little things in your day-to-day. Since I am a young person, I have felt frustrated with the adults making all the decisions for us, deciding things that directly affect our safety and health. I wish they would listen to how we feel when making these decisions, and not make this a debate to further their selfish political agendas. I’m tired of watching elected officials put their personal goals before the safety of teachers, students, and staff. Even though the pandemic has caused me to miss milestones in my teenage years, such as my first day of high school, or my fifteenth birthday, I have learned to let go. Even though these are experiences I can never get back, at least I’m keeping myself safe, allowing me to reach future milestones.
I must acknowledge that being at home is a privilege that not many students can have. Many students who are younger, such as elementary students, students with learning disabilities, and students without internet access, are at a disadvantage. Some students need to be social to learn, and some may use school as an escape from abusive households or family members. I believe that we have all learned during the pandemic, that having the ability to be flexible is key, and that it would be great if we could learn how to harmoniously have both a in person program, along with an at home learning program, that way we could cater to the many needs of students.
Learning is a very personal experience, and it is important to incorporate many aspects into the decision-making process of choosing a high school. Whether it be in-person, at-home, private, Catholic, or public, it is always your choice. Figure out what suits you and your family and use this knowledge to help influence your decision. Don’t worry if your choice doesn’t work out, there are always other options—just try to be flexible.
Charter Moms Chats
Brianna Byars is a sophomore at Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, Texas. She serves as Class Historian.
Read More About Student Stories
- “Guide to Enrolling in Catholic Schools in San Antonio for 2022–23,” San Antonio Charter Moms, February 1, 2022
- “Carolina Barrios, Virtual Student at Incarnate Word High School,” Carolina Barrios, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 1, 2022
- “CAST Med High School Is Helping Kailey Cazares Reach Her Goals,” Kailey Cazares, San Antonio Charter Moms, September 2, 2021
- “Incarnate Word Virtual High School Offers Catholic Online School for Girls,” Anne Schaefer-Salinas, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 18, 2021
- “Dariela Galindo, Sophomore at Travis Early College High School in SAISD,” Dariela Galindo, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 2, 2021
- “Student Stories: Mia Rodriguez, Senior at the School of Science and Technology San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 9, 2020
- “How Social Distancing Protects Our Loved Ones, Our Neighbors, and Our Community,” Anne Hebert, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 20, 2020