The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (2023)

The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (1)
Larry Ferlazzo

Opinion Contributor, Education Week

Larry Ferlazzo is an English and social studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.

(This is the first post in a two-part series.)

The new questions-of-the-week (directed toward students) is:

What is the best thing about school this year? Why?

What is the worst thing about school this year? Why?

Previous posts here have highlighted student voices about returning to school this fall and distance learning experiences last year. Teachers have also shared what has been working—and what has not—for them and their students.

Now that we’re approaching the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, my colleagues and I asked students at our school to answer those questions.

Here are their responses:

‘Everyone Seems Happier’

Tea Feliciano is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

I think that the best thing about the school year is that everyone seems happier. When we had gotten back from quarantine in 2021, this school seemed to be very depressing. The halls were empty, and people were depressed from having to stay indoors and live their high school experience through a screen. This year, there is so much more positive energy radiating in the halls, and there is way more laughter. I think everyone is just happy to be back with their friends and favorite teachers.

I think the worst thing about this school year is how far behind everyone is with their teaching/learning. I have heard a lot of teachers talk about how they have to cram in lessons to catch up from what we missed when we were quarantined, especially in Spanish. There is a lot that I do not understand in my IB Spanish class, like how to build a basic sentence or how to say simple words. When we first got back from summer break, teachers would start teaching things that no one understood because of how we missed it last year. They then had to backtrack on lessons, causing them to have to fly through the lessons we are supposed to learn this year, meaning we are out of luck if we don’t understand it or seek help quick.

The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (2)

Teachers ‘Are More Lenient’

Anniyah Rhone is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

The best thing about this school year is that the teachers are more lenient with assignments considering everything that is going on today. This is the best thing because people are already stressed about COVID and worried about unemployment and lots of other things, and the teachers understand that we don’t need any more added stress to our lives. Some of my teachers are more lenient than others due to my being an IB Diploma candidate but lenient nonetheless. This makes my life better and easier because I am not constantly stressing about whether or not I will turn all of my assignments in on time.

The worst thing about this school year is COVID. This is the worst thing because we don’t really know what’s going to happen. One moment we were doing really well, and the next it felt as if every other person had it and half of the school was empty. Then while you’re quarantined, not a lot of teachers have it set up to where you can Zoom in, and so your in-class participation points just go out the window. There are also things that you can only do in class on that date in which you can’t make up. This makes my life harder because in some of my classes we take notes from what the teacher is saying, and you have to wait until the day it is due for you to get the lecture but you still have lots of other assignments to do.

Playing Volleyball Again!

Precious Yang is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

The best thing about school this year is getting to play my favorite sport with my teammates again and improving my skills because this was a good opportunity for me to start all over after having to stay home for a year. During sophomore year, the school was on online learning due to COVID-19, so I couldn’t play volleyball and build sportsmanship with my teammates. However, this year they opened the school, and I was able to improve my skills for volleyball, have great memories of my teammates cheering for one another during hardships, and build sportsmanship with other schools. I’m very much grateful and happy that I was able to do a lot of good things and learn on the way.

The worst thing about school this year is still having COVID-19 around because it affects a lot of students and staff. We go to school having to social distance, but the next day, students and staff are quarantined, which makes the education system hard to function because teachers and students are absent and there aren’t many substitute teachers to sub in. This makes me believe that it has been a very challenging year for teachers and students.

The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (4)

‘We Learn Things Way Better’

Leonardo Vimbela Reynoso is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

The best thing about school this year is that we get to know each other now that we attend school in person and we learn things way better than we used to in Zoom, also I can see my teachers and have a normal conversation with them

This makes my life better because I don’t feel depressed and uncomfortable by completing my assignments and I can now share everything that I do with everyone.

The worst thing about school this year is that we still need to wear face masks and be distant from each other, something I don’t like to do because I’m really friendly with everyone and I love to handshake my friends when I see them and now I can’t because of COVID.

This is the worst thing because we don’t feel the freedom of doing whatever we want inside or outside the school because we can get sick from doing things, and we need to be careful with that because we don’t want to get sick or give it to our family.

The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (5)

Nice ‘to Get Out of the House’

Mimi Bui is a senior at Luther Burbank High School:

The best thing about school this year was seeing old friends and teachers, while at the same time meeting new people as well. It was difficult to be stuck at home alone and it’s nice to finally be able to get out of the house into a different environment.

The worst thing about school this year was that the COVID cases were increasing and people were getting sick left and right. There was a point that teachers had to somewhat pause their lessons since attendance was low, and that put our schedule into chaos.

The Best and Worst Things About This School Year—According to Students (Opinion) (6)

Thanks to Tea, Anniyah, Precious, Leonardo, and Mimi for contributing their thoughts.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled .

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