By: Thomas E. Edmund, Jr., Gateway Regional High School
WOODBURY HEIGHTS, N.J.. — Junior year of high school is usually supposed to be thrilling for students, as they contemplate their future and plan to pursue higher education. SATs pose as a sort of gauge for students and is just one of the many tools utilized to consider accommodations for secondary learning. A few members of the current Class of 2021 conveyed their emotions on the College Board’s decision to cancel upcoming test-taking dates, as they continue to self-quarantine at home.
The staff at Gateway, including the Guidance Department, have taken a progressive approach in an effort to support students through this challenging time. They are providing the school community with resources of mental health, relaxation, and celebration of the students via Gateway’s Counseling Corner Google Classroom. Ms. Melissa Powell is just one of the many counselors dedicated to her students.
“There are dozens of colleges and universities who are dropping the SAT/ACT requirement for students applying for fall 2021,” Powell stated. She anticipates that there will be more and more schools added to this list as the months go on. Upon further observations, she goes on to mention that over the past few years, she has seen many colleges and universities become “test-optional” in order to prioritize equity in the college admissions process. “I would not be surprised if some of these schools who are waiving the test requirement for 2021 applicants actually end up becoming ‘test-optional’ for the future as well,” she said.
In using the Counseling Corner Classroom, Powell has been able to communicate with students in a positive way while also gently reminding them of the importance of keeping up with school work. During the week, Powell has “Office Hours,” similar to teachers, when she can respond to emails from students and set up appointments through video chat via Zoom. Her cats have been known to make appearances during video calls and she says that there is nothing better than simply being able to make her students smile.
Kayla Ripley, a Junior who has taken the SATs once already, planned on taking the test again to improve her scores, but due to College Board’s cancellation for Spring 2020, she has not had the chance to improve her previous test scores. Taking all things into consideration, she responded, “Part of this is good, it gives me more time to study and prepare myself which ultimately could lead to an even higher score. However if it comes down to me not being able to take them again at all, I would be unhappy as I really would like to better my score. I guess it isn’t the end of the world for me though, since I did at least take them once.”
Ripley plans on attending college in the future and even though she may be unsure of the exact school or major to pursue, she remains optimistic that she will figure it all out. While at home, Ripley said that she has been doing “the usual teenage quarantine stuff,” which includes school work, watching Netflix, and going for walks around her neighborhood. “I’m honestly just trying to keep busy since there’s not too much to do while everyone is quarantined,” she commented.
Robert Thompson, who was personally affected by the cancellation added that now he is unable to register for the exam completely. Post-graduation, Thompson plans to go straight into Law Enforcement with intentions on applying to become a Special Class I Police Officer and then going on to attend a local Police Academy when the time comes. In terms of his daily routine, Thompson mentioned, “I am staying on top of my school work, I have kept on my sleep schedule and getting any school work done nice and early. After I am done with school, I like to get outside for a walk or a bike ride to stay active. Other than that, I am practicing social distancing by staying inside spending time with my family or just watching TV and playing video games.”
Haley Marks hoped to take the SATs twice during the Spring 2020 season. She expressed that the cancellation of her test dates, which were originally scheduled to take place in May and June, has caused her a lot of additional stress along with having to maintain virtual learning. Marks said, “The College Board told me that I will have Early Access to sign up for upcoming ones, but I feel like I, along with many other Juniors, are being put at a big disadvantage when it comes to the SATs.”
Marks has ambitions on becoming a psychiatrist after she graduates from high school. Similar to her peers, Haley has been spending her time quarantining FaceTiming friends, doing school work, and just trying to keep herself busy. “These are hard times for everyone, and I cannot wait for everything to go back to normal,” she remarked
Aside from having the inability to take the SATs, members of the current Junior class at GRHS are staying positive as they continue to stay home in hopes of flattening the curve of Coronavirus. Finding a sense of normalcy amid a global crisis may be troubling, but by staying apart, individuals are now given the opportunity to support essential workers who are committed to keeping communities thriving.
Thomas E. Edmund, Jr., “TJ”, is a senior at Gateway Regional High School in Woodbury Heights, NJ and an intern at SNJToday.com. After graduation, he will be attending Rowan College of Southern New Jersey to begin his quest to become a journalist.
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