A year of firsts

The freshman class officers discuss their first semester experiences and goals for the future

The+freshman+class+officers+take+a+group+photo+in+their+Leadership+class+%7C+Photo+by+Ryland+Adzich

Photo by Ryland Adzich

The freshman class officers take a group photo in their Leadership class | Photo by Ryland Adzich

Gauri Manoj

During the summer of 2020, 2024 class officer Ryland Adzich remembers reading the list of elected class officers for the upcoming school year, shaking with nervousness. Upon finding her own name, she let out a scream of excitement in her empty house and immediately called her parents to tell them the news. Her desire to be a leader and work with the four other class officers gave her something to look forward to during her first year of high school.

“[When we met], I think we were all a little shy,” Adzich said. “We didn’t really know each other but as time progressed, we realized that we work really well as a team and we were ready to get things done. I think that in the first moment of being able to work with them, I saw the potential of what we could become. And now, we have become … a team that’s ready to get down and dirty, get to work and help people.” 

And now, we have become … a team that’s ready to get down and dirty, get to work and help people.”

— Freshman Ryland Adzich

Following Kennedy and Lawson MS’ school closures in March 2020, the class office candidates had to campaign entirely online. For 2024 class officer Michelle Zheng, it was difficult to make an impression on voters since most of her campaigning was done through Instagram. However, messaging students to promote her campaign allowed her to rekindle old friendships that she had lost prior to remote learning. 

“When you’re campaigning online, you can’t really go up to them and ask them to vote for you, so you have to find other ways to connect with them,” Zheng said. “But there were a lot of times where I couldn’t connect with a lot of people or I couldn’t let them know, ‘oh, I’m running and I hope you vote for me,’ because I didn’t have the contacts of many students at the school. I feel like that was a disadvantage, but an advantage for other [candidates] who knew many students.” 

During the summer, 2024 class officer Ananya Jilla shares that they focused heavily on preparing for Homecoming skits, but their plans were halted once the school announced the switch to remote learning for the first semester. While Jilla originally felt disappointed by the news, she sees online learning as a way for them to create new virtual events that have never been done before, such as doing daily check-ins with students on their class Instagram page. The class officers believe that using their Instagram account, @montavista.2024 , has been their most effective method of communication this year. 

“We’ve done a lot of stuff in the past where we [posted], ‘If you guys need anything or if you guys just want someone to talk to or a shoulder to lean on, we’re all here for you,’” Jilla said. “They can reach out to us any time. And there have been some students that actually reached out to us which I find comforting, that they know we are here for them. I think we could definitely provide more of a stable area or place for people to be safe, but I feel that we have done a pretty good job with [supporting students].”

During the California wildfires in September 2020, the freshman class office helped set up the school-wide fundraiser to raise money for firefighters. While the class of 2024 was initially in last place, 2024 class officer Amy Zhang shares that directly contacting parents for donations and creating promotion videos on their Instagram helped them win second place. Zhang noticed that students were not motivated to participate in events this year, so promoting events through emails, Instagram and Schoology has been a crucial job for her.

“There was not a lot of participation, especially at home when there’s less obligation to do anything,” Zhang said. “I think it’s because freshmen generally get to experience all these cool things but now they don’t get to experience them this year. None of the events that we host are quite as big and memorable as Homecoming and having school spirit is extremely difficult because there’s no unity among the freshmen. I think right now, the freshman class is sort of just a collection of a whole bunch of middle schoolers that never got to meet each other.”

I think right now, the freshman class is sort of just a collection of a whole bunch of middle schoolers that never got to meet each other.”

— Freshman Amy Zhang

Zhang also mentions that the decrease in school spirit has caused some financial issues, since all their money is earned through events like fundraisers or selling merchandise. In the beginning of the year, the class office put together a freshman package — which included a class shirt, a sticker and a pencil — but MVHS Financial Specialist Calvin Wong shares that only 17 students ordered it. 2024 class officer Kayley Kim feels that the lack of interest has made hosting events more difficult, as the officers must consider whether they would make a profit. 

“[Creating the freshman package] was kind of annoying, and we were thinking like, ‘Do we want to go through with it and lose money, or just cancel it?’” Kim said. “But in the long run, I think rather than focusing on the money for us, we feel like it would be better to focus on the people. We would be losing money anyways, and since it’s online, we’re spending less money than we would in-person, so I feel like it’s easier in that perspective.”

During second semester, Zheng hopes that the class office can create more engaging online events, like spirit events or virtual games. Zheng also plans to host more fundraisers to increase their class budget and deliver the freshman packages in the next few months. 

“I think we were really unmotivated after [past events] and really disappointed because we were making all these ideas but then nobody was participating,” Zheng said. “But I feel like, as class officers, we’re trying to have the mindset that it doesn’t matter if nobody participates as long as we try our best. As long as we make [these events], we hope that people will participate.” 

Jilla describes her experience on the class office this year as “bittersweet.” Although remote learning has provided her with new challenges, Jilla still looks forward to attending her Leadership class and working with the other class officers.

“At the beginning of every class, while we’re still waiting for everyone to join, there will just be people talking or discussing holidays and stuff,” Jilla said. “I feel that really gives us a sense of community because usually we wouldn’t really do that [in-person], we would just talk to our class officers or people we’re friends with. But I feel like because we’re on Zoom, it actually gives us a chance to talk to everyone, to see their faces and actually associate them with certain feelings and emotions. I think one of my favorite moments is being able to listen to everyone and see how they are feeling.”

Because of remote learning, Adzich feels that she missed out on important high school events for freshmen. Growing up watching movies like “High School Musical,” Adzich hoped her freshman year would reflect the scenes that she watched on screen, like her first school dance or basketball game. However, Adzich believes that because of their hard work and determination, the freshman class office had a successful first semester of high school, despite never setting foot on the school campus. 

“Just being part of that aesthetic high school experience, I was really looking forward to that,” Adzich said. “But I think that even though freshman year is supposed to be a year of firsts, the whole year [of 2020] was basically a year of firsts as well. I mean so much changed and I think we all changed in general. So although it was sad not being able to do these in-person events, I think we all came together and we learned that we can still put on great events, even though it’s virtual.”