Franklin College Students Adapt In The Age Of Corona

By Emma Richter, FHS Class of 2018

There is no doubt that the coronavirus has changed life for everyone, and here in Franklin Township, students who have graduated from Franklin High School have found themselves back home for the remainder of their spring 2020 semesters.

Nicole Chalecki

Graduating just two years ago, with the class of 2018 at Franklin High School, Nicole Chalecki has directly been affected by the virus, leaving her homebound for the rest of the semester. She attends Rutgers University at the New Brunswick campus, as a sophomore, majoring in Public Health with a minor in Education.

Interestingly enough, Chalecki found herself learning about the virus in her public health classes when one of her professors hinted at the idea that all classes would soon be altered to online learning. Nicole recalls that by the beginning of March, emails were sent to all Rutgers students informing them of how the rest of their Spring 2020 semester was going to proceed.

Nicole was a resident of the Rutgers University campus during her freshman year of college but decided to be a commuter for her sophomore year. She realizes now how that choice might’ve made things just a little bit easier for her COVID transition, as many students who did dorm on campuses  had to rush to get everything packed and out of their rooms.

Eric Llanos

Unlike Chalecki, freshman Sports Administration major, Eric Llanos resided on campus at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison. Also an alum of Franklin High School, Llanos graduated with the class of 2019. While on his spring break, Eric said he was told mid-March about his school’s abrupt decision to switch to remote learning for the rest of the semester.

With online classes taking the role of the typical learning experiences, Llanos said he was worried about the sudden adjustment he and many other students had to make.

“I benefit from in-person classes, it was hard at first, I can tell you, especially as a freshman,” he said. “For me, it was especially painful, because I was just trying to make new friends, and then they tell us we’re not coming back.”

By the end of his semester in early May, Llanos said he is proud to say that he adjusted well to the unforeseeable circumstances affecting his learning.

Neal Dalal

Neal Dalal, also a member of the 2018 class at Franklin High School, is now attending Duke University, majoring in Computer Science and Global Health as a sophomore. He said that when he was informed of his future at Duke for the spring semester, Dalal was still in Asheville, North Carolina, rushing to switch up flights for his return home.

Though his semester has now ended, Neal said he thought that his teachers were very accommodating to the current health situation, but he found it much harder to get his work done at home, here in Somerset.

“You know, I can’t pull the same hours that I did at school, at home,” he said. “That definitely made it a lot harder, I’m definitely more of a night person, and my parents don’t like me staying up late at night.”

Like many universities nationwide, Duke gave a pass/fail option to all of its students, as well as Rutgers for Nicole, and Fairleigh Dickinson for Eric. Neal decided not to use it, but it has come in handy for a lot of students whose grades have been affected by the change in learning.

With a multitude of disadvantages and changes due to the pandemic, there have also been positive benefits that have turned up for students. Nicole Chalecki found her silver lining in all of this.

“Since I’m a commuter, I don’t have to physically go to school,” she said. “That was a hassle, especially if I had a morning class, I had to wake up extra early, get ready, then go (to classes).”

“Especially at Rutgers, you know, you have to figure out the best commuting times with the buses,” she said.

Chalecki said that she misses hearing her teachers in person, saying that she has really interesting classes and professors this semester. She said she also misses what would have been a beautiful spring campus at Rutgers, that she and many others didn’t get to physically experience at their schools. 

Emma Richter

With semesters coming to an end, students in college and high school who have reached their peak years sadly had to alter their graduation plans. Llanos made it clear that he is grateful for the position he is in but feels terribly for the ones who didn’t get to say their proper goodbyes to their final year, and all the years behind them.

The virus has changed a lot of aspects of life, education being just one of them. But here in Franklin, no virus will stop alumni, graduating, and current students from fulfilling their goals and dreams, showing just how strong our community is even after we’ve “left.”

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