As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect many people across the country, most schools are resorting to online schooling programs in order to continue learning. Cleveland High School in Clayton, N.C. is no different. Johnston County Schools had originally closed in-person learning indefinitely, but Dr. Eric Bracy and the Johnston County Board of Education recently voted to continue online learning until the end of the first grading period, or October 15. Having experienced some sort of online schooling in the spring, this was not completely new to anyone; however, things are running much differently than earlier this year. Members of each grade level were asked questions regarding their first week of online school experience, and their responses varied depending on the grade, as would be expected.
For incoming freshmen high school is already a new experience and now it’s even more different. This semester freshmen have had to adjust to high school as well as adjust to online schooling, which is a new experience for everyone. Although online school is a new experience most freshmen have adjusted smoothly and think that there are some benefits to online school. “The best thing is that you don’t have to deal with the worry of missing the bus or a ride to school,” said Molly Anderson.
There have been some hiccups during the first week of online schooling, such as connection issues and scheduling problems. Arianna St Hilaire said, “I think the worst thing about online school is not being able to do certain work.”
When asked if they preferred regular school or online school both freshmen said they prefer regular school. Most freshmen were excited to join clubs and meet new people, but right now those things aren’t as accessible as before. The high school experience has changed, especially since clubs currently aren’t having meetings and it’s difficult to get to know people through Google Meet calls.
From the sophomore class’s standpoint, regular school is superior to online school. Despite this, they know staying home is in the best interest of everyone, as Maddie Darnell said here: “The best thing about online school so far is that we don’t have to worry about us being at school in the middle of the pandemic.”
Everyone interviewed mentioned missing their friends and wanting the social aspect of high school back. As Cullen Tiffany said, “The thing I miss most about regular classes definitely has to be the socializing between my peers and I.”
Two of the three sophomores asked said they prefer last year’s first week of school to this year’s, while the third simply said it was a different experience. Additionally, the same two students that preferred their first week of school last year also prefer regular school. The other student enjoys online school, saying, “it makes it easier to do all my school work at home.”Each student had slightly different answers to what their least favorite part of online school is, but all three related somewhat to how it’s easier to learn in physical school, rather than online school.
Three fourths of juniors said they prefer regular school because they could focus better and felt more engaged. One junior said “I would say I prefer regular school because I feel like I’m actually learning something, but when I’m online I don’t feel like I’m learning anything.”
Although more juniors prefer regular school they stated that online school has its perks. “The best [part of online school] has been being able to sleep later, having my dog around, and being able to keep to my own schedule for the most part,” said Emily Robinson.
Similar to the other grade levels there have also been a few bumps in the road like internet problems and meeting difficulties. Jazmine George said, “The worst thing is having to be on google meets at a specific time and the times aren’t even long enough to actually learn something.”
This year will be especially difficult for juniors since junior year students start preparing for college and build up more credits.“I think it’s going to be more difficult due to the online situation. Junior year is supposed to be the time to really get prepared for college and do things to put on your applications, but now I don’t have opportunities to do clubs and extracurriculars,” said one junior.Juniors said they prefer regular school over online school and also feel that this year will be more difficult to learn and get ready for college.
For the seniors at Cleveland, COVID-19 put quite the wrench in their plans. Senior year is supposed to be about celebrating high school and making memories while there’s still time left to do so. Many feel that their senior year is being wasted by not being able to participate in clubs and extracurriculars. Jamey Hill said, “I was really looking forward to my last season of marching band and being able to be the head drum major one more time.” Similarly, Olivia Bondurant also wishes she could have the proper senior year experience. “I think the worst thing about online school is not being able to see my friends or not having those last senior year traditions,” she said.
Despite missing out on certain senior year experiences, most agree that online school isn’t all bad. Many seniors appreciate the flexibility online school offers as well as being able to organize their own schedules. The flexibility is also why one fourth of seniors prefer online school to regular, the other three fourths wishing school could go back to normal soon. The hardest adjustment for many seniors is “having to learn through a screen,” Victoria Bowman said. Regardless, everyone is choosing to make the best of a bad situation and they are attempting to enjoy their last year of high school.
Overall most students said they preferred regular school, but for now students are still stuck doing online schooling at home. The coronavirus pandemic has caused everyone to make adjustments to their daily lives, including schools that have had to deal with how to keep students learning safely. Although students know it was the right call to keep school online, that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. A popular opinion amongst all grades is that it’s hard being without friends and extracurriculars to take up all the free time everyone has suddenly found themselves with. Everyone is having to make sacrifices right now, from students to their teachers, and people all over the country.