New Kids on the Block


By Dominick Delaney, Reporter

Each year’s crop of freshmen endure challenges both unique to that class and common to all Xavierians. Tough classes, new responsibilities, and a sudden separation from the opposite sex plague all classes of freshmen. However, this year faced more difficulties than ever before. The pandemic put in place new rules and operations that I would’ve bet money against. Mr. Cerreta allowing bookbags in the Dining Hall by itself is something that would make this a historic scholastic season. For these reasons, I thought it best to interview three freshmen and one new faculty member to see how they’ve adjusted.


Nikhil Taylor ’24 shared some thoughts with the Kestrel.

How did this year feel? This year felt crazy because of all the new surprises that came up throughout the year, especially going from virtual to hybrid to fully back in person.

Was it hard/harder to get involved in the community? It was definitely harder to get involved because of all the restrictions that were set for specific activities.

What was a challenge this year? Something that was a challenge this year is it must have been hard for everyone to make new friends because of the lack of the whole class activities like class night.

What surprised you? The thing that surprised me was how well the school handled the cases that were at Xavier and how they didn’t shut down the whole school when other schools already shut down months before.


John Lagana ’24 responded about the differences in academics.

Do you think Covid-19 and the surrounding protocols affected your grades? How? I feel my grades would be better if we were all in person and had seven periods but would also be faced with harder assignments and tests.


An anonymous freshman ’24 had this to say:

Do you think Covid-19 and the surrounding protocols affected your grades? How? Yeah, it did. Online definitely made it harder to pay attention and the whole learning process was different and sometimes challenging.

What surprised you? How welcoming the teachers and Xavier’s community was for everybody.


Overall, the freshmen recounted the same bullet points. The year was different than any other, and challenged their academic standings, but overall, Xavier provided a strong bulwark and warm community against the virus. John’s input on the seven periods is interesting. I can hardly remember that schedule and other trappings of a pre-Covid world. I think the five periods actually helped my grades, and the fully virtual condensed schedule made the Teams days go by much faster. While the freshmen recognize the arduous process of online-school, they also recognize it’s the best that could be done.


Lastly, I interviewed Mrs. Kennedy from our Guidance Department regarding the necessary adjustments to the pandemic and a new school from the perspective of a faculty member, not of a student.

How have you adjusted to Xavier? I think my adjustment has gone really well, considering how weird things are this year. Its good because it feels like everyone is a new teacher. I’m not alone with facing this pandemic.

To what extent has this adjustment been impacted by the virus? A big one. I didn’t expect my work to be so focused on kids struggling with online school. I think we need a lot of creative solutions to problems I didn’t expect to face.

How has this year been different for you from other years of counseling?  There’s a serious emphasis on mental health this year because of online school and the pandemic. A lot of what I do and change I want has to do with mental health. (At this I interjected asking about her opinions on Falcon Watch) Falcon Watch is a great idea that I’d like to see expanded. More in-person time together and more fun. Maybe some competitions, something like that. That way we can all create a stronger rapport before asking serious questions.

What are some challenges you continue to face? Wearing the masks every day! It’s hard to recognize newer faces, and students! I’ll have to re-learn who everyone is after this pandemic is over.

What’s surprised you about Xavier? A lot of companies and work places say they have a real sense of community and someone always has your back, but they rarely actually mean that. Xavier was genuine about that. There’s a real sense of community, that anyone will help me with anything when I ask for help.


Mrs. Kennedy echoes similar passages to the freshmen. Xavier’s community, when it was most desperately needed, stepped up to the plate, even in our forced muted state. While we couldn’t have our usual events and dances, we could have our strong spirit and faith. I find it crucial that Mrs. Kennedy references mental health, something the freshmen didn’t outright state. Xavier continues to emphasize community strength in response to growing mental health concerns in the ways it knows how.