Students React to In-Person Learning


Elinor Hershkowitz, Staff Writer

After a year and a half of attending Friends Seminary via hybrid and virtual learning programs, students returned from summer break to a fully in-person learning environment. This dramatic change has been a catalyst for a variety of emotions and experiences. With two months to adjust, students reflected on returning to Friends in person.

After getting used to virtual learning, many students found it difficult to adjust to the new expectations and demands of full in-person school. For many students, finding time to do homework has been especially challenging this year. Amah Assoumou ‘22 has had more trouble getting her work done because of her commute to in-person school. “My commute is an hour, so that’s two hours out of the day.” 


Simon Friedman ‘25 explained that in-person extracurricular activities also make it more challenging to get work done. “I get home at eight after a [cross-country] meet so I only have an hour to work,” Friedman said. Similarly, Assoumou said that her “sleep is so much worse because of [soccer] practice,” adding that she is “ending up at home at nine o’clock.” 


Many students found adjusting to the new expectations associated with in-person learning difficult. Ella Ting ‘24 described the difficulties associated with in-person class participation. “When you’re in-person, I think teachers expect you to participate more,” she said. Ting also noted that teachers “cover more [material] in less time” when in-person compared to over Zoom. “What would have been considered a normal rate [of learning], seems accelerated because of Zoom,” Ting said. 


Nina Belcove ‘23 discussed how difficult it was to adapt to the new expectations surrounding tests and quizzes. “Going back to in-person test taking has been an adjustment because last year many of my classes actually didn’t do tests.”


Along with the jump to in-person learning, students are still adjusting to a new schedule. “I like the ten days instead of eight days. I feel like it’s easier” Assoumou said. Ting also preferred the new schedule because the 10-day cycle causes the days to alternate more often which “gives you more variety.” 


Though returning to school in-person has posed challenges, many students found the change overall positive. “I am definitely super happy to be back,” Belcove said. “The vibe in the classroom is just a lot more comfortable.” She explained that she enjoyed having “[classmates] to bounce your ideas off of” during class. 


Friedman also enjoyed interacting with students and teachers, specifically during community periods and Meeting for Worship because he felt that virtual learning “was really isolating.” “During virtual Meeting for Worship, I didn’t really get the full experience but in person I feel reunited with my community.” 


As a newcomer to Friends last year, Ting mentioned that “it is definitely more exhausting to be in person all the time, but I think it is very necessary because I got to know a lot more people.” She added that “there were some people who I didn’t even know existed.” Ting also felt that in-person school was beneficial because she was “more comfortable asking [teachers] questions and asking them for help.” 


Assoumou shared that in-person learning has helped foster and revive friendships. She said that she “missed eating around school with friends.” She explained that her art classes are more enjoyable in-person and that she “also missed playing [school] sports.” She felt that in-person school is a more positive experience because she is “getting to know people and rekindling old friendships.”