From private to public: Hannah Wagner joins the sophomore class in the middle of a pandemic


Sam Hipp

Engaging in her online Honors English II class in the first quarter, sophomore Hannah Wagner searches to find the perfect word to add to her essay. With the first half of the school year being online, it was a different experience to do school work from her home. “I definitely think working at home was more enjoyable because I felt more comfortable writing at home,” Wagner said.

Walking into her first day of school on Jan. 19, sophomore Hannah Wagner found herself at a new home after previously attending Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill school. Being her second first-day, Wagner was thrown into a whole new world. She was intimidated knowing that the sophomore class was about the same size as her entire old school. 

“Even walking in the hallways and seeing a mass amount of people, I have to reassure myself that it’s safe. The biggest difference I can think of, besides the size, is how different the people are. Not only is [West co-educational], but people seem to be more kind and open to help,” Wagner said. “It’s kind of weird to me.”

With all her classes being online for the first four months of the school year, her chances to meet new people were slim. 

“I would love to have the chance to meet people and hang out with people more, but at the same time, is it worth the chance of getting COVID-19? It’s really difficult to hang out with people and feel safe around those I don’t know,” Wagner said.

Even walking in the hallways and seeing a mass amount of people, I have to reassure myself that it’s safe.”

— Hannah Wagner

Before the year began, Link Crew members gathered on a Zoom call to welcome new students like Wagner who were not incoming freshmen. 

“[Freshmen] were more-guided. As a freshman, you’re taught what you’re supposed to do and more where you are supposed to go. As a sophomore, you had to figure it out on your own,” Wagner said. “Besides a Zoom meeting to welcome new students, the principals sent emails describing what to do just to kind of help out more in general. Teachers were very kind and understanding.”

Wagner had planned to attend in-person learning all year, however, as virtual classes continued Wagner missed the chance to attend in-person. 

“Yes, [I did get lost] the first couple of days. It was what I was most nervous about. I feel like I haven’t had a chance to get to know everything,” Wagner said. “I couldn’t ask a ton of people [if they knew anyone in my classes] just because I didn’t know a ton of people in general. So going to each class was kind of like ‘I know this person,’ and ‘oh, I don’t know anybody.’ It’s intimidating.” 

COVID-19 has also altered the activities that many students join to meet new people. Wagner plans to join lacrosse this spring. 

“It is a sport I have been playing for [four years now at Villa], and I think it will be a good opportunity to meet more people,” Wagner said. 

Looking back on the transition from one school to the next, Wagner wishes she had not worried so much. To others in similar situations, she says to not be afraid. 

“[To my past self], I would say don’t let it bring you down and make you super worried about everything. Just know that it’s all going to be okay because you’re going to find other things to do that will make up for [the process as a whole] and learn more about yourself,” Wagner said.