By Sahara Portlance
As some students begin to attend school in-person and others remain online, many students share concerns like lack of motivation, distractions at home, and missing out on a normal high school year. Others are optimistic and thankful for their teachers and the option to stay home during a high-risk and unprecedented time in their lives.
This year, Arundel High Wildcats experienced their first fully-online semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the time students were told that their first semester would be online in July to the end of the semester in January, students have experienced a completely new learning environment, changed their way of life, and have been distanced from their family, friends, and the wildcat community. While some students have found this abrupt change easy and even comforting, others found it extremely difficult and faced many problems throughout the past semester. Freshmen missed out on the opportunity to experience their first homecoming week, sophomores were separated from their clubs and sports, juniors had to handle a large amount of coursework while also juggling home responsibilities, and seniors are trying to accept that they are losing their last year of high school. A problem that students from all grade levels experienced was a lack of motivation.
Alexa Adams, a junior at Arundel, voiced her concern when asked how she felt about the first online semester: ” It was very hard, staying focused with home distractions and feeling motivated was hard.” Sophomore Trysta Thomas agreed, “ It was hard to find motivation but teachers were really understanding.”
As others found motivation and distractions to be the most difficult part of online school, some found the idea that we will not be returning to school this year to be the hardest.
Senior Alex Turse said, “ The hardest part of online school for me personally is facing the reality that we aren’t going back. I’m likely not going to spend any more time in Arundel classrooms.”
Like Alex, many seniors share the same concern and have tried to think positively as a way to remedy their low spirits.
Another senior, Alesha Lower, said, “ I understand that I’m missing out on a lot of the last experiences of high school like having the last first day, but also it’s kind of a blessing being able to experience senior year unlike any other graduating class has before.”
When asked who has been the most helpful to students during online school, most students responded “teachers”. According to senior Hadley Lee, this school year’s online learning was better than last because “ teachers had time to prepare lessons, we can actually learn because we’re being taught and not just turning in worksheets once a week.” Although sophomore Madison Fowlkes appreciates the teacher’s, she feels that the workload is too large.
Madison claimed, “I feel like they’re giving a lot more work compared to in-person classes. Probably because of shorter classes but still, the workload is a lot larger.”
One thing all students can agree on is that this past school year has been much different than any before and most are upset that they are missing out on what can be an entire year of their high school experience. For those returning, many share the same excitement of seeing other students in-person again and walking through Arundels halls for the first time in almost a year. Monday, March 8th marked the start of hybrid learning for students in the 9th and 12th grade.
When asked about why those who chose to begin hybrid learning would choose that option, sophmore Adelle Johnson responded, ” I miss being around my friends all the time. Even though I have classes with some of them online, we don’t really get to interact.”
Juniors Bree Fish and Savannah Howe chose the hybrid option because they find it easier to learn in-person rather than online. Savannah Howe claimed, “It’s easier to focus in a classroom.” Bree Fish agreed and added, “I can do labs for science class.”
Those who chose to remain virtual mostly agreed that staying home will be similar to being hybrid because you will still be doing your classwork on a computer. Junior Jack Rivas remarked, “You’re still going to be on a Chromebook and the teacher may not be there somedays.”
The end of the first virtual semester and the start of hybrid has been an exciting step for Arundel High School towards the full return of students and the return of normal school activities. While the future return may be different than past school years, many students and teachers are excited to see students safely return to school.