Semester recap, look into the future


Top: Crystal Hinman, Erin Chung, David Nguyen, Shelby Crowe and Shawnna Shore. Middle: Aiden Sun, Angie Baik, Annie Schwarzbart, Kailey Schmidt and Remy Kreuzer. Bottom: Hafsa Shaik, Jakob Autajay, Sari Nakajima, Riddhi Kumar and Kyle Chittenden.

Student Responses:

Q: What is something you are looking forward to next semester? Anything, in particular, you are excited about?

A: “I’m personally excited about Formal, and going to Knott’s Berry Farm,” junior Kailey Schmidt said. “I think it would be cool to go to an amusement park with my friends, and it’s refreshing to know things are sort of getting back to normal and we can have a more interactive high school experience.”

A: “I’m looking forward to having fewer classes and being done with college applications so I’ll have more free time to have fun with my friends,” senior Erin Chung said.


Q: How was the adjustment period returning back to a “relatively” normal school year? Did you have any go-to comfort activities to relieve stress?

A: “It was kind of a bumpy ride but I didn’t do any major stress relief things,” freshman Jakob Autajay said. “I just kind of went on like it was nothing, but I think I was able to do this because hybrid was like the transition from all online to in-person because half of [my classes were] still online while some were in person.”

A: “I got used to in-person school fairly quickly but it did take some getting used to,” sophomore Shelby Crowe said. “Having a routine helped me get back to things and become more comfortable. Every morning, my dad takes me to Starbucks because I am really picky about breakfast and it is right by the school. It calms me down to get something in my stomach and to know my dad cares and is willing to put in the extra time and money to do something like that for me. I also read to release stress because it takes my mind off things and it puts things into perspective.”


Q: What is your favorite memory or event you attended in the first semester?

A: “My favorite memory would be the Christmas choir concert because I was one of the performers and watching the recordings afterwards was nice,” freshman Aidan Sun said. “Overall the concert was very festive and fun.”

A: “My favorite memory was probably the football games and how I get to perform for everyone and enjoy the game,” sophomore Sari Nakajima said. “Also doing orchestra with my friends and having a ‘normal’ concert again finally.”


Q: What goals do you have for yourself this semester?

A: “This semester, some of my goals include getting good grades and being involved as much as possible,” junior David Nugeyn said. “I want to keep finding activities that I am passionate about.”

A: “A goal I have for myself this semester is to make sure I’m still trying my hardest in school and making time for myself while still enjoying myself,” senior Riddhi Kumar said. “It’s the last few moments of high school so I want to make sure I can take in every memory and just enjoy the last couple of months while still trying my best and making time for myself.”


Q: What is something memorable that happened in 2021? How did that/it impact you?

A: “[Something memorable that happened was] when I made more friends because I felt so safe and had more support from them when I really needed it,” sophomore Sari Nakajima said. “They helped me through my toughest times in school and supported my choices throughout 2021.”

A: “I got closer to my younger members in my section in marching band,” senior Erin Chung said. “We have a senior night where everyone gives fits and then we have nights where we would also go out and eat together. It’s made me feel much more attached and super grateful for this season because I was pretty sad about our San Francisco trip getting canceled. Overall, the season just wasn’t the same as it used to, but these friendships that I’ve built with my entire saxophone section were something I have never had in previous years.”


Q: What lesson has 2021 taught you? Or showed you?

A: “It has taught me that although things don’t always go my way, I can make amazing memories,” freshman Hafsa Shaik said. “I also learned that mental health comes first.”

A: “2021 has really taught me to value every moment,” junior Angie Baik said. “Since this year places have started to open and it is great to go back and experience them. Like for school I really enjoy coming and seeing my friends everyday.”


Q: How did the first semester compare to your expectations of high school? How is it being on campus for the (first) “relatively” normal school year?

A: “High school did not meet my expectations in both good and bad ways,” freshman Hafsa Shaik said. “I think finding a community where you feel like you fit in is really easy considering the variety of students and clubs we have at Irvine High School. However, as a queer person, I learned and witnessed things that made me realize not everyone will be the nicest and you have to learn to be considerate to people who may have different opinions from you. When it comes to being on campus, it’s honestly a breath of fresh air.”

A: “I originally thought my first semester was going to be pure chaos, running around all lost and stuff, but thankfully people like the teachers and upperclassmen gave me tips and guides around the school,” freshman Jakob Autajay said. “For me and most people it’s the first year with a normal schedule in a while and I find it quite weird because the last few years, there were some days at school and someday were [online] but now we go [in person every day] which is kind of draining.”

A: The first semester was a lot harder and easier at the same time for me,” freshman Aidan Sun said. “Most subjects were manageable and the teachers were very kind and understanding but a few that I thought would come easier like math were a lot harder resulting in me having to work harder to maintain good grades.”


Q: How was your last first semester of high school? What are you looking forward to doing in your last semester of high school? 

A: “It was alright; better than last year for sure and super fast,” senior Erin Chung said. “I am so excited about trips with my friends. We plan on going museum hopping, visiting sites, etc. I am also excited for Jazz because as of now we have our Reno trip planned where we go play and get judged at Reno, Nevada along with other high school jazz bands.”

A: “It’s been busy (and difficult at times), but still fun overall,” senior Remy Kruezer said. “Next semester I’m looking forward to finding better ways to manage everything and to slow down and really take in my last months of high school.”

A: “My last first semester of high school went pretty well,” senior Riddhi Kumar said. “It was an adjustment having to deal with coming back to school and getting back into the routine but it was very well needed. I’m thankful for all the friends I made in my classes and all my teachers for making school enjoyable. It was nice getting to go to school events such as the football games and homecoming. I’m looking forward to more school events next semester and just finishing up high school in a fun and memorable way by enjoying my classes and appreciating the people around me.”


Q: Finish the sentence: 2022 will be the year of…

A: “2022 will be the year of challenges,” freshman Hafsa Shaik said. “I think everyone will be facing challenges this year: doctors, students and people of poverty. Although things will become difficult, we can do our part to stay safe by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands often.”

A: “2022 will be the year of growth,” sophomore Shelby Crowe said. “In 2022 I will focus on bettering myself and working on school. Taking the time to prioritize the right things in the moment whether it is myself, school, or sports. Overall just becoming the best version of myself and getting into a routine.”

A: “2022 will be the year of hard work and success,” junior David Nguyen said! “This year is going to be filled with college applications, the SAT and the dreaded [Advanced Placement] exams. However, through hard work and determination, I’ll be able to overcome these challenges.”

A: “2022 will be the year of Taylor Swift,” senior Erin Chung said.


Teacher and Administrator Responses:

Q: How was the first semester and the transition back to a “relatively” normal school year?

A: “For me, it’s hard to say, because I made quite a big transition as I taught drama last year and had only one math class last year,” math teacher Kyle Chittenden said. “I don’t know what it was like teaching math every day, but just in general having all the students here every single day is just the way it should be. It was so strange last year; half of the people at home were on Zoom, it was very hard to figure out how to include them in instruction. I hope students can regain the confidence they have had before the pandemic. Something I hope for them, after this semester of a more normal schedule, [is that] they can adjust and return to their normal confidence and performance.”

A: “It was wonderful and I’m glad to be back on campus, I’m glad to have our students on campus and I’m glad to see everybody,” counselor Shawnna Shore said. “Was it a little challenging? Yes. I think the transition was for the students, however, for the staff I was extremely excited to be on campus, to be around people, to be around my colleagues and to see all the faces of the students.”


Q: What is one of your favorite memories from 2021?

A: “One of my most favorite memories from my personal life in 2021 was my niece being born and being able to hold her for the first time,” science teacher Crystal Hinman said.

A: “I don’t know if I have a particular memory, but I think the resilience is my favorite part of 2021,” counselor Shawnna Shore said. “Because it was definitely a struggle, and a lot of things happened, and a lot of uncertainty was out in the world, I think that we are all a little bit stronger from where we started. Just the resiliency of the country, our own self, as well as the people we are surrounded by.”


Q: Are there any particular events, experiences or opportunities you are looking forward to in the second semester or in 2022

A: “I think for this upcoming semester, just kind of learning from my first semester teaching math full time and making some adjustments in how I do things in class,” math teacher Kyle Chittenden said. “My hope is that some students who struggled during the first semester will benefit from new ideas, new structures in class and be able to do better than they did first semester.”

A: “In regards to the second semester, I am looking forward to attending more school activities including sports and performances as it has been enjoyable seeing students being able to participate in what they are passionate about again,” science teacher Crystal Hinman said. “For 2022 in general, I am looking forward to traveling this summer, as long as everything regarding COVID-19 continues to improve to be able to travel.”


Q: What is one activity or hobby students should take up in 2022?

A: “Being outside more,” counselor Shawnna Shore said. “Hiking, enjoying the weather, going for walks, going to the beach—just being outside more, that’s the hobby. Whatever that looks like to the students, just being outside and enjoying the world.”

A: “Something that involves moving your body,” math teacher Kyle Chittenden said. “Especially last year using Zoom school as an excuse to not even get dressed and sit around at home too much. That’s what I’m trying to do more, trying to encourage my own children to get involved in sports and get active. I don’t think we fully understand how much mental benefit we get from physical activity and just being physically active; your blood is flowing more and your energy and focus are higher so that you are actually better when you are sitting in the classroom as well.”


Q: If you could finish the sentence: 2022 will be the year of…

A: “2022 will be the year of progress,” counselor Shawnna Shore said. “Progress and strength and determination and success. I really feel that because we went through all that stuff, that we’re just going to be that much stronger and wiser this next year.”

A: “2022 will be the year of reconnecting with others,” science teacher Crystal Hinman. “The last two years have included a large increase in digital communication, utilization of technology for meeting up with others. This year will be the year to have those in-person connections again by meeting new people in person and building stronger relationships with others by doing activities outside and together.”

A: “2022 will be the year of discipline,” math teacher Kyle Chittenden said. “I think it’s a word that usually means one thing: getting in trouble. But how I want to incorporate it in my class is that discipline is what you do even when you don’t want to. It’s committing to doing things that you know you need to do for your own success when motivation is not there. I think if you start with a good frame of mind of discipline and making the commitment to yourself, then when you get to the end, you already have the momentum and already built those habits.”