Back to school, sort of: Tenlea Radack

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Photo courtesy of Tenlea Radack

Isabelle Pala

Ever since Tenlea Radack’s freshman year, she’s dreamt of her last year of high school filled with all the joys of being a senior. A lively homecoming, winning a Powderpuff game, taking college t-shirt pictures next to Wilson’s dysfunctional sign, and, of course, prom and graduation. But as the virus’s effects on school continue, the chances of having those experiences are looking pretty grim. 

However, it’s not all bad. As quarantine started, “taking a step back from crew and school and all that was so good for me, and because we had so little to do, we could actually find things we enjoyed doing. I’ve been playing piano more, baking, I deliver the extra bagels I get from my job to all my friends, so I keep myself busy,” Radack explains, “also [my] mental health, ten times better.”

Plus, with the new four by four schedule, many seniors only have two or three classes each semester, leaving much more time to complete college applications. However, of the classes she has, she feels the school is trying a little too hard. “I feel a lot of social anxiety whenever I have to turn on my camera or microphone, and group work is so awkward. I know everyone learns in different ways but I feel like it’s just not useful for anyone,” she elaborates. She also has been able to continue rowing this fall, which has allowed her to keep a steady schedule and gives her something to look forward to. With practice being only three days a week rather than six, it’s much less stressful yet still allows her to get on the water pretty often. But unfortunately, since there are no races taking place during the pandemic, her hopes of a competitive and victorious season are effectively over. 

One main issue she points out with a virtual senior year is the lack of responsiveness from counselors. Although it’s likely not their fault due to a high demand, she finds that it is very hard to get in touch with them for things like college recommendations, application help, and schedule changes. “The counselors have actually been pretty good for me, because I’ve been writing to them through my parent’s emails, but I have friends who are trying to get recruited and because those kinds of things are very time sensitive, they are just delaying it as much as possible. I feel like they have so little to do until your senior year and once you get there, everything is so important and we don’t feel like a priority,” Radack expresses. 

One of the things she misses most is “hanging out with friends inside. It seems small, but it’s just so much more chill and low pressure, especially with winter coming up too. Also I miss the socialization you get from school, just like seeing friends in the hallways, that always makes my day.” 

Even though her own mental health has gotten better after getting a break from the rigorous classes of junior year and athletics, she emphasizes the lack of presence of mental health services at Wilson, virtual or not. “I think they sent one email, earlier in the pandemic, for parents to check in on their kid’s mental health, and I do not believe that was a big enough step. We have like three school psychiatrists and I don’t even know their names.” She acknowledges that this is an unprecedented time and that many other people continue to struggle without feeling like they can talk to their family or get professional help, and Radack doesn’t see the school doing much about this. 

Overall, she’s disappointed with the things she’ll be missing out on just like anyone else, but she’s been able to find the silver linings that keep her motivated and happy throughout this weird time.