Junior Year: A flop or a bop?

How Juniors this year were affected by the pandemic and where they are going next


Leesburg, VA- At home behind a screen or in school behind a mask, Tuscarora’s class of 2024’s first plunge into high school was tampered by COVID. Now, they are more than halfway through Junior year, the grade often seen as the hardest. After a glitch in schooling, were they prepared for the third year of high school?
Freshman and sophomore year didn’t prepare Jada Pippen, a student in the class of 2024, for junior year, “Mostly because freshman year was COVID year, so it didn’t really feel like high school.” One thing she says she wasn’t ready for was taking a DE (Dual Enrollment) class. “I didn’t feel like last year really prepared me for that,” said Pippen.
Even with these complexities, Pippen says, “Senior year is probably more difficult.” Along with making sure you’ve taken your SAT and ACT tests, Pippen thinks that senior year will be more trying because, “you have to actually apply to colleges more.”
On the other side of the topic, Ella Thomas, also a junior, says, “I think that Junior year is definitely the hardest pressure wise, and depending on what classes you take, class wise.” She believes that freshman and sophomore year prepared her for junior year, not because of the content she did or did not learn through online learning, but because it allowed her to take advantage of the resources available when in-person school resumed. “I think being online for COVID definitely helped a lot of kids learn that they need to take advantage of what they have,” Thomas says.
Tests are common in college environments. Some classes offered at Tuscarora aim to prepare students for these tests. Thomas took AP (Advanced Placement) History last year, which she says helped her with her first AP exam. Her current history class is a DE class, and she recently wrote a 10 page essay for it. “That really helped me start writing college essays. It even got graded like a college essay, so I think that that helped me prepare a lot for what I will be experiencing in college and… professors.”
One reason why junior year is commonly a struggle is because students have to start planning out their career path. Pippen wants to do something in business management or even entrepreneurship, and Thomas plans on going into a form of journalism and criminology in college. Thomas hopes to get into the Administration of Justice course next year so that the Academies of Loudoun class might better prepare her for an investigative journalism career path.
While both students have a different perspective on junior year, both are eager for the possibility of early release senior year. For Thomas, early release is about, “having the opportunity to…collect myself, have some free time to myself, do homework and then go to my job.” Pippen says that she would 100% take early release because, “It would be nice to get out of school early.”
Because even if freshman year was a flop for some, hopefully senior year can be a bop for all.