Freshman Life 2019 vs. 2021


Classes at Kalani sat mostly empty through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. All Hawaii Department of Education students returned to full in-person learning in August 2021. Ka Leo staff photo.

Leilani Phan, Student Life

The 2018-2019 school year was the last full school year before the COVID-19 era. For returning seniors, their last full COVID-19-free year was freshman year.  

“High School is really social and so when you remove the socialness or the tangible socialness of others it makes it something else quite entirely,”   freshman English teacher Ms. Setiadi says. 

For incoming freshmen, the hallways can get a bit “squishy and claustrophobic” according to freshman Haylee Pula. 

“If I were not new to this school I wouldn’t think I would mind as much but I do get a little bit uncomfortable,” Pula says. 

 Not only that but even for returning seniors, the halls can feel crowded. 

“As a freshman, there weren’t as many people,” Jessie Zeng (12) remarks. 

“It was still kind of flustering to get from point A to point B and not be kind of flocked by people all around,” Setiadi explains. “I would say that was true then [2018-2019 school year] and it’s true now”. 

I Setiadi believes that there’s more gratitude for school now. 

“A different receptibility then I think they have now that was taken for granted you know,” Setiadi said.

Before COVID-19, classes would be louder, and more interactive, and lively. 

“Everybody was kind of friends, so there was a lot of shouting across the room,” Zeng says.

While only 10% of students will talk in class according to Pula. 

“There’s a hesitancy that people are definitely more quiet like hands down,” Setiadi explains. “Previous years, there were more issues or more talking in class, people who are just super social so it was hard to put away the socialness.” Setiadi says, “Now I would say it’s hard to get people to interact with each other and for that to feel natural. I would say definitely feels more forced now.”