Student Feature: BCCHS Senior Janessa Valdez


Janessa Valdez, a senior currently attending Birmingham Community Charter high school.

Sarah Ruano, Opinion Editor

As the first semester came to an end at Birmingham, many students were relieved, as they were stressed out due to the transition of online learning, quarantining, and not being able to spend much time with their friends. Today, we take a look at one of those students, Janessa Valdez, a senior, and her perspective on how her 2020 fall semester went. 

Valdez at the 2019 Birmingham Homecoming Dance.

With the transition to online classes, students weren’t stoked about it, as the concept of not going to school physically and not being around friends sounded bizarre to many. When asked about online learning and which style she preferred out of the two, Valdez responded “In school, learning is so much better than online learning. I feel like people are more motivated to actually do the work when they are in class because they actually understand what is going on and they focus more on their grades. A lot of people online really just focus on attendance and do not even do the work. I prefer being in class than online through a screen.”

Like many students, Valdez dreamed of what a school year would be like without the implications of Covid-19 and quarantine. Valdez, when asked about how her senior year would have been different if we hadn’t transitioned into distance learning, responded, “I feel like I would be a little less stressed and actually very motivated to complete my work. I feel like I have forced myself into believing that I was gonna do badly and actually have this be bad. I would have made a lot of new friends and memories even if it was the last year.”

Another downside to this year’s online schooling is that there isn’t much of an opportunity for students to participate in extracurricular activities. Like many, Valdez is a part of multiple activities, and when asked about them, she said “I am part of Knights and Ladies, in which I volunteer to help out the people around me. I am currently helping out Mr. Castillo with grading and that has taken a handful of stress off of him. I was also a part of a program by the name Las Fotos Project, in which there are many girls taking photos of whatever makes them feel comfortable and safe.”

Picture of Janessa Valdez taken on Snapchat.

Like for many seniors, 2020 was supposed to be their time to shine with grades, extracurriculars, and socializing with as many people as possible before the inevitable end of the school year. One of the main focuses seniors had this year was being able to maintain good grades in order to graduate or to go on to college. With the stressful and hectic classes, many seniors endured, and Valdez’s motivation for maintaining good grades was “I think my main motivation at the moment would be my parents. I have felt like giving up at moments and not turning in assignments until late, but I then realized that if my grades came out badly, my parents would be so upset. I want to be able to be freer, and if my grades are bad they would not allow me to do anything.”

With quarantine, comes long periods of free time, and with long periods of free time, comes new hobbies. Valdez in particular has picked up some new hobbies and discovered new things stating, “new hobbies I have picked up over quarantine are cooking and actually working now. I love being able to try so many new dishes and get my family to try them. I also finally got a job that allows me to learn a lot of new things and meet a lot of new people. Additional things I have discovered were new T.V. shows, new friends, and even new recipes.”

As the semester ended, along with the year 2020, Valdez stated, “I think the most difficult part was losing a lot of people I never thought I would. I thought I would have the friends I started with, but then once Covid-19 happened, everything changed. I use this as a lesson to be learned because the people who left weren’t meant to be in my life and it only made me stronger. Those old friends allowed me to grow into someone better.”

Like many parting seniors, Valdez has some advice for juniors entering their senior year next year. “Do not stop trying and do not pile so much work on yourself. I feel like if you do. it will only stress you out a lot more and will cause you to not want to do it. Other than that, live your life. Do what makes you happy and enjoy your last year. Drop toxic people and shine and be who you are. Don’t let anyone judge you; just be you and you’ll feel amazing.”