On the importance of in-person schooling

Emiliano Juarez

Junior, White Plains High School


MARCH 13, 2020 was the last day of school for everybody, in person at least. After COVID, we split apart in eighth grade. People just didn’t connect with each other. I drifted away from all of my friends. I had zero interactions with them. Freshman year, I was really lost—it was hard for me coming back into high school. I knew a couple people, but it was rough. We weren’t able to do clubs in person, and I wasn’t able to connect with the teachers well, so freshman year I had limited opportunities to do the extracurriculars that I enjoyed.

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As president of the mariachi club, I want to create something that students will enjoy and where they feel welcome.”

I would say I missed practicing with the mariachi club most. Our official name is Mariachi Juvenil Los Tigres. We met every Tuesday after school on Zoom, but it was so weird and hard because people couldn’t really connect with each other. After we went back to in-person school in late spring, it was basically time to say goodbye.


COVID definitely impacted my mental health a lot. I’m not afraid to admit it. On Zoom, I would just feel desensitized to everything that was going around me, everything that was going on in the world. I wasn’t interacting with people, and going through that transition from middle school to high school on my own really affected me. The pandemic and the lack of social interaction really affected kids’ interactions with other people. In so many schools in the United States, there’s been an increase in fights and violence. The contrast now is just so obvious. Connecting in-person is so much healthier, more fun, and more positive than doing it on Zoom.

This year, thankfully, we’re back in person. I’m hoping I can introduce the freshmen and other lowerclassmen to the mariachi. We’re selling merch, and we have our own Instagram that’s getting a new look. To me personally, success is setting true goals for yourself and actually achieving them. As president of the mariachi club, I want to create something that students will enjoy and a place where they feel welcome. I’m trying to get us gigs at different locations like performing at the State House, where they have an annual music festival. We want to have all these musicians come together and perform for our community. We’re really excited for the school year.