Throughout 2020, adaptation was essential in the school setting. Now with students back in the building, teachers are returning to a somewhat normal lesson plan; however, virtual learning has made an apparent effect on the way teachers run their classrooms.
Last year’s graduating seniors were one of the most affected classes last year. Belonging to this class, Noah Herren, a 2021 Centennial High School graduate, has begun his first year of college. On the hardships of virtual learning, Herren stated, “I feel like I wasn’t able to connect with my classmates to like study and share resources and stuff. I had to do most of my classes on my own.” Graduating seniors’ high school experiences were quite out of the ordinary, as they missed half of their junior year and all of their senior year. Herren jokingly expressed his disappointment about the missed senior events, saying, “We didn’t have prom, that was funny,” and also mentioning, “the music department disney world trip, that did not happen- and that was the only reason i was in the music department!”
The class of 2024 was able to dodge the customary freshmen hazing, but are now facing the same cliches such as getting lost in the hallways as the class of 2025, already two years into their high school experiences. Centennial sophomore, Nicole Luo, told us about her experience with online learning. She talked about how “[she] prefers in person.” Luo explained, “I feel like online, even though obviously like the workload is easier and the schedule is a little bit easier, there really was like no incentive to try… since we got rid of midterms and finals.” Herren conquers, reflecting, “I think I can focus better, like in like a classroom. Like with all the distractions with virtual learning, if you don’t want to hear what the teacher is saying you can just mute them-,” quickly, with a joke, he added, “can’t do that in in-person unfortunately.”
Many teachers were able to feel this lack of engagement from their students. Señora Comito, a world language teacher here at CHS, also gave us her input on virtual learning, mentioning, “The most challenging part of teaching on-line was having students hide behind a camera. I gauge student understanding by looking at their faces–this was impossible to do online.”
Even this year, however, teachers are finding ways to incorporate elements of virtual learning and utilize technology in their lesson plans. Comito states, “[she’s] definitely keeping PearDeck for checking student understanding,” as are many other educators. “It seems that we can’t quite plan too far ahead because plans and expectations change so quickly.” Now that’s something that keeps us all on our toes!
While social interaction was at an all time low, sports were an escape from reality for many students like Luo. “Honestly volleyball kind of saved me like in quarantine because playing a sport was that one source of social interaction I got for there past one and a half years so I was really excited that the volleyball season started up in the spring,” said Luo. “I was really excited… to be back in the building with people I know and just like actually talk to them for hours and each day.” The consensus of most students at centennial is that being back in the building is essential for a positive school experience.
Sports were a positive influence for most, but other extracurriculars were not as beneficial. Luo, a student government participant, explained, “it was really hard to promote school spirit online because- again- a lot of people just didn’t really find a reason to participate and generally i think people felt last year that student government wasn’t really doing anything because we couldn’t really do anything in a virtual environment.” Other clubs, such as culinary club, continued online meets by challenging members to create a dish of choice and of what they had access to at home. It kept students excited to send in pictures of their awesome creations.
This year, Luo is already beginning to see a difference in school spirit, stating, “now that we are back in person we are already like you know planning stuff for homecoming and pep rallies and definitely just trying to like promote that sense of belonging back in the building because we’ve been away from it for so long.”
Now that 1400 are students back in the building, whether the staff and students of Centennial High school feel safe is another hurdle. “A lot of my classrooms are really crowded and like especially with the large numbers of students in each class- i have like thirty student in each of my classes and some of them are like stuck in portables where there is like zero social distancing,” reflects Luo, concluding, “at the very least everyone is wearing masks.”
Although we’ve all been tested by the constant unknown of this atypical year, we will continue to adapt and excel at what this year has to throw at us. Señora Comito remarks, “Teachers and students have had to learn to adapt to different environments and needs without having the time to prepare.” While online school has its perks, the general agreement is that in-person school rules! Welcome back Centennial, let’s get to work!
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