An Abrupt Adaptation

Freshmen that began their first year at ACHS have had to deal with entering a new environment, meeting new people, friends, and teachers completely online. These students and their teachers are possibly tasked with the most difficult job as ACHS take on almost complete remote-learning.

Sophmore+Carissa+Lozano+struggles+to+juggle+her+online+classes+while+at+home.+

Avery Krizanovic

Sophmore Carissa Lozano struggles to juggle her online classes while at home.

Freshmen that have begun their first year at ACHS have had to deal with entering a new environment and meeting new people completely online. These students and their teachers are tasked with possibly the most difficult job as Sequoits take on hybrid-learning.

 

Starting highschool can be difficult enough on its own. Students enter a completely new environment, but what if high school started online? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 4.1 million ninth graders are enrolled to start high school this fall. A few hundred of those started their high school experience here at Antioch Community High School; however, a large percentage of these students have yet to even enter the building. 

 

Due to COVID-19, District 117 has taken many steps to ensure safety for all students. As of now, less than one-third of students are in the building during the school day, while the rest are remote. For the couple hundred freshmen, this meant meeting new teachers, adapting to the pace of highschool and meeting new people was all online. 

 

Many freshmen felt that connecting to an online class can in turn make one feel even more disconnected. Freshman Redmond Heilig described lessons as feeling more like homework than typical class work. 

 

“The environment is anaemic,” Heilig said. “Even when you’re in the building, your teacher is always looking towards their computers to meet the needs of the simultaneously participating virtual students.”

 

Despite feeling disconnected, most freshmen felt the school year thus far has been relatively easy; the workload has been at a ‘good’ pace, and learning new concepts has become a natural process from years of previous learning. 

 

It’s not just the students dealing with these changes, dozens of teachers at ACHS have also had to adapt and find ways to teach freshmen and help them through this time. Similar to students,  teachers have also felt that the most difficult challenge is connection.

 

According to math teacher William Zambole, lack of feedback has been another challenging hurdle. Zambole claimed a challenge for him is “knowing how a particular student works”, which is very difficult for a student to display through the screen. When students began to come in however, these obstacles significantly lessened. Having direct in-person interaction, Zambole explained, allowed students to communicate beyond words and reactions on Google Meet. 

 

It wasn’t just teachers that felt being in the building made learning easier.  Freshman Ashlyn Olsen, joined classes in the building for two days the first week of September. 

 

“Being in the building made school easier,” Olsen said. “I got to interact with other people. I feel like I connect with my teachers way more than my old ones because everyone’s so much nicer.”

 

While being in the building may help, many freshmen have not had the opportunity to do so yet. Being unable to learn the environment of the school and have that in-person interaction makes it difficult to socialize. Like many others, freshman Linnea Lindstrom has not been in the building yet.

 

“The most difficult part about entering high school online would be not getting to interact with other people and not getting the full freshman experience,” Lindsrom said. “At this time of year, I would already know my way around the school but I don’t even know where my classes are.” 

 

While not knowing where classes are located is expected when starting online, Lindstrom voiced another difficulty that occurred through screen interactions. 

 

“I honestly feel like I barely know some of my teachers,” Lindstrom said. “[In] previous school years, I really got to know and was almost friendly with many teachers because of that bond you make when seeing each other every single day.”

 

In-person interactions, though six feet apart, seem to give students a better sense of normalcy and understanding of the work given to them. Entering the building appears to be working successfully; going back for those two days can make remote learning easier because the student and teacher have gotten a chance to meet in person.

 

As more students are slowly being allowed in the building, the process of going online may become easier. Most freshmen, while faced with a difficult task, appear to have handled it relatively well. Teachers claim they’ve completed their work and managed their way around the building when they arrive. Despite the challenges they have dealt with, many students at ACHS have handled it with respect, responsibility and pride.