Reflecting on a School Year with Covid-19
It may be the simplest way to word how Maine West students felt about the past school year. It was definitely one of a kind, and although students were forced to face unexpected problems, many have showcased their resilience by learning to get by and surviving this crazy year.
Although all of the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year was virtual, many students didn’t know what to expect as they headed into the 2020-2021 school year and varying ideas floated through students’ minds. A fairly popular opinion seemed to be that school might not be too hard. “I thought maybe this would be just casual learning,” sophomore Emily Steingard said.
Another thought was that virtual learning would be more temporary than it ended up being. “I really didn’t expect it to last for the whole year,” junior Dulf Vincent Genis said.
As school kicked off, hopes and assumptions were thrown out the window and reality set in. Connectedness proved to be a big problem for some. “At the beginning of the year it was really hard because nobody knew each other or turned their camera on so no one knew what anybody looked like,” Steingard said. Students soon discovered participation was the way to push past this barrier.
Senior Anna Kalena found that being active in class helped to form a bond with teachers, even online. “The best way for me to connect with my teachers was to talk in class or try to talk to the teacher, like ask how they are or stay after and ask questions,” she said. These tactics helped students get to know teachers, even if they weren’t acquainted with them before this year.
For some, connectedness was a low level problem or even an opportunity. “A lot of us have been trying to put in the effort to interact with each other, whether it was doing more Zoom meetings each week or calling each other more on Facetime,” Genis said. He was able to connect more with his peers simply because of a common struggle and shared drive to get through it together.
Another problem that emerged was keeping up with extracurriculars. As president of Philosophy Club, French Club, and Science National Honor Society, as well as having a leadership position in two other groups within Maine West, Kalena had noticed a decrease in club participation this year. But, she recognized the reason that clubs were often pushed to the wayside. “I don’t blame anyone for not having as many club meetings or as much participation because having school and having all these responsibilities during a pandemic is kind of terrifying.”
A sense of being overwhelmed was clearly prominent in both teachers and students this year, so normally fun things like extracurriculars were much more of a burden than before. There are always two sides to a coin, however. “It hasn’t really affected me that much since I stayed with what I did last year and everybody in clubs and sports talk to each other a lot,” Steingard said. Having been in Class Council last year, it was something she was able to easily get back into. However she did mention that if more people had opted to learn in person, she may have been more open to joining some new clubs.
Going into next year with what they’ve learned from this year is a great advantage students may not realize they have. They could get involved because they couldn’t this year, they could connect with those around them because they now know how it feels to be isolated and they could plan ahead because they have insight now. “This year has taught us a lot, and I think we’re all ready to head back into in-person learning not just back to normal, but gaining new perspectives and coming into school with fresh ideas,” Genis said about heading into his senior year at Maine West. He’s looking forward to keeping school spirit alive for many underclassmen as well as getting them involved in clubs and activities they may have missed out on due to virtual classes. The Warrior spirit was put to the test recently and it looks like it might just come out stronger because of it.