To the Class of 2025

A senior reflects


Mark McLaughlin

Students at Abington High School have laptops issued by the school to do their classwork or engage in online schooling. This was a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic when the school was at times fully remote or in the hybrid model.

Mark McLaughlin, Contributor

Dear Incoming Freshmen:  

It is May of 2021 and COVID-19 has been around for over one year now. It has been stressful as people try to acclimate to the new changes.

Many of us students were already having a hard time getting used to the changes in the world.   

At the start of the year, I had a very particular problem. Would I decide to go into virtual schooling or not?  A thought popped into my head at that moment, My Grandmother.    

Because of the risk of possibly putting her in danger and the little certainty about how long the pandemic would last, I transferred into an online school.    

Originally, I thought I got a good opportunity to focus on my work and finish strong for my senior year of high school. I had kind of looked forward to the new experience of having all of my classes be online.   

Pullquote Photo

I had a human teacher, but most lessons were taught by “Terra,” a teenage girl who was supposed to be giving us all of the information.

— Mark McLaughlin

 But I also romanticized what online classes were, thinking they would be “easier” or “not as taxing” as regular schoolwork. I discovered there is not really too much of a difference between the two regarding the flow of school and the workload.    

A major difference that was apparent to me once I started was that I knew none of the people I was in classes with. Or even the teachers. And even though many teachers used certain days of the weeks to hold a study/seminar that people could go in and ask questions, I never showed up to any of them. 

With that being said, I want to say this to the incoming freshmen who may not like school, the teachers, or the environment, you’ll never know how good it is until it’s gone.

This is the only four years you’ll be in high school. And even though it seems like a lot of time, a lot can change in four years. And the feeling of community starts to grow onto you.

It took a long time for me to understand that, but seeing it helped me so much in making my high school career actually enjoyable. 

In online school, the teachers would assign lessons and homework. These lessons would be taught through a screen and the teacher would not even teach them.

For example in my science class.  I had a human teacher, but most lessons were taught by “Terra,” a teenage girl who was supposed to be giving us all of the information. It was only a drawn image with a voice over. This made me feel a non-connection to the person teaching me.  

In Abington, I had my friends. People whom I grew up with. People I would almost call family, along with teachers who helped me in the past, sometimes just by being in the building.   

But in this virtual place, I was alone. It really weighed on me. And along with the frequency of the work, my drive plummeted.   

I decided I could get myself back in the swing after a little bit of a break. However, the break just led me to procrastinate and then forget about my work entirely.    

Procrastination made me feel so annoyed at myself. I wasn’t doing something I knew I could do, but I simply decided not to do it. It was like watching all of what I worked for feel like it was for nothing. 

On the day that all of my assignments were due, that was the cherry on top for me. I felt sick that morning waking up and looking at my computer with a big “99+” reminder sitting in the corner of the screen. That was all of the assignments that I had not finished by the last day.   

This led to me coming back to Abington. A meeting with my guidance counselor Mrs. Park helped me to get back into school. 

It was different to sit face-to-face with her as opposed to the online meetings.  I felt as if I had genuine hope for my education in the next few months.  

Now I am currently in the end of my senior year and it feels like I’m placing all the broken pieces where they needed to be the whole time. 

And why am I telling this story? To serve as a warning to you if you have a problem with your drive. To serve as a reminder to stay on top of your schoolwork because it can get behind you extremely fast. To encourage you to reach out to the people you know will support. To express the importance of school, and not school behind a screen. Because at the end of the day, humans are social animals and need interaction and a sense of community. 

I would say for any freshmen who is in a position similar to mine, absolutely go to guidance for help. I know it may be nerve-wracking to ask for help in a situation like that, but do so. It is their job to help, just as it is our job to finish our work. All you would need to do is set up an appointment or even just ask your guidance counselor directly. 

With this I give you my best. I hope that hearing my experience can help you, even if it’s only a small amount. You have my best wishes. 


A Senior