By Jacob Gross
Last year, schools had to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19. At Montevallo, most extra-curriculars and events were cancelled with all remaining moving online. The classes were moved to a hybrid schedule, leaving an entire freshman class with a largely online academic experience. This year’s sophomore class is experiencing its first true semester, adapting to in-person classes and extra-curriculars.
The freshman of fall 2020 had a mixture of in-person and online classes. Ashlee Bissonnette, a sophomore psychology major and a peer mentor for the Honors Program, talked about the switch from an almost all remote class schedule to an in-person class schedule, she struggled with her own routine, “Freshman year I would just have to roll out of bed five minutes before class and I’d make it to class. But now I have to get up an hour earlier, get dressed, get ready it’s a struggle to manage my time.”
Bissonnette also expressed how different in-person classes were to virtual classes. She said her in-person classes were more stressful because “there is a bunch of people there and we are all scared of getting COVID, and I have to focus on a teacher that I can’t pause and rewind. It’s definitely intense.”
Bissonnette expressed a sentiment that her freshman year was almost more like high school, saying that her “freshman year fell somewhere in-between high school and the real college, because we lost the end of our high school experience and the beginning of our college experience, so it felt like a merge of the two.”
Another sophomore, Eleanor Bruce, expressed a different sentiment when it came to learning in person. She said that she was glad that classes are transitioning back to in-person, saying “all classes [being] in person is just really beneficial to learning in general, because I don’t like learning from a laptop… I’d rather it be in person, because we can ask questions easier. We could have a conversation about a piece of work that we couldn’t necessarily have on Zoom.”
Bruce is an English major who started school in January of last year. Bruce is from the U.K., and she came to America because, “It [COVID] was really bad in England… and a lot of people were doing college from home, and I didn’t want to do that. I knew out here they were still having in person classes to an extent.”
Bruce is also playing lacrosse for the university as a midfielder. She said she knew she “wanted to play a sport if I was coming over to the U.S., so I got in touch with my recruitment company, and they helped me reach out to different coaches and the lacrosse coach here reached out to me and we set up a Zoom call. I spoke to her, and I really liked the sound of the school and the program.”
Bruce expressed a certain level of frustration with last year’s season saying, “a lot of games were cancelled because of it, we still got to play games, but if one person in our team tested positive, the whole team would be out. The same thing if the other team tested, if we were all fine but someone on the other team wasn’t, we didn’t get to play…. There were times where we got on the bus, drove three or four hours, and had to turn around, because the other team tested positive.”
With campus opening, Bruce has said that she has enjoyed new campus experiences. She said that she has “been to some art exhibitions, which I don’t think there were any last semester because of [COVID]. The Caf is now serve yourself. The ice cream machine wasn’t open because of COVID. Small things like that… Like, if we had an indoor practice last semester in Myrick, the old gym, we had to wear masks, but this semester we don’t, which makes a huge difference because we can actually breath properly… It’s nice not to have to worry about that.”
Bruce said this semester the lacrosse team has “done a lot more team bonding. Like, we went to this inflatable aqua park in Oak Mountain. Things like that we couldn’t do last year. We had some of the Marines come in and put us through a marine-style work out. And things like that had been planned for last semester, but had been cancelled because of COVID. So, it’s really nice to be able to do that. Especially for the seniors who are going to be leaving. Cause it’s a shame that the seniors who graduated last semester missed out on a lot. They are really jealous that we have been able to do it.”
Last year, an entire class of students started college in a pandemic-ridden world. As the pandemic continues to ease up, those students are getting to experience college in new way. As Bruce said, “it’s nice that we can move forward from this and hopefully see things opening up.”
Jacob Gross is a writer for The Alabamian. He is an English major with a creative writing minor. He has played guitar for a few years and really enjoys painting even though he believes he is bad at it.