POV: You are a Virtual+ Student at TC Williams

Lilla Gleeson and Lauren Thiell

On March 13, students were told that in two weeks, they would return to school after a short break due to coronavirus concerns. Two weeks became 4 months.

Now over half a year since the covid-19 outbreak in the United States, T.C. Williams High School students are attending virtual classes from home.  As students adjust to a fully virtual environment, they share their opinions and experiences.  

While students adjust to harder classes and a heftier workload in junior and senior year, students must also adjust to a new structure, new distractions, and a new world.

Junior Kenna Murphy said she finds it  “very difficult to learn and take a college course online,” especially taking her first dual enrollment class, DE College Composition.  

Junior Adryanne Anez said, “I am not used to this learning style at all, especially when taking a college course. It makes everything 100 times harder.”  Because students are not in-person, they do not have the luxury of swinging by a teacher’s classroom after school to get help. Instead, they have to log onto ZOOM office hours, which can be daunting after a long day staring at screens.

Another issue Anez brought up was that she is juggling another higher level class,  AP Biology, and  “Balancing two college courses at once is difficult, especially with an online structure…I’m [already] so nervous for the AP exam because nobody even knows how it will be formatted.” 

The combination of taking rigorous classes, managing school virtually, and coping with the stress of the pandemic makes this time frustrating for students trying to earn college credit. 

Another student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that he is “not a huge fan” of online school. He continued, “[I] just had my first test, and my teacher had to edit it while we were taking it.”

Junior Ryan Smith said he believes there are pros and cons to virtual school. He said, “I really enjoy being able to wake up around 9:45 and attend class at 10, but in the back of my mind I am always thinking about how school was before the pandemic.” Like most other students, he misses being in school—going to classes in-person, seeing friends every day, and attending school events like dances and games. Smith said, “My favorite part of my school day was being able to be around my closest friends and not having to worry about getting anyone sick.” 

While freshman Aly Roster loves Asynchronous Mondays, she has reservations about ZOOM classes. She said, “Some of my teachers aren’t very good at teaching online. It’s confusing, so I understand, but it’s stressful [on the student].”

While students express their concerns with virtual learning, it is important to note that this is a new experience for all parties, including teachers, and it will take time to adapt.  

French teacher Anna Kobylski loves to see how students are reacting to the new environment, saying, “I am seeing students develop self-advocacy skills….They have been contacting me using email and Remind, and their email communication has been more professional than in years past.” She mentioned that the students thriving in this environment are mainly the introverts. 

In a completely new learning setting, students are frustrated and upset. High school plays a huge part in growing up and planning for the future, and it seems, many Titans are viewing this pandemic as a personal attack on their high school experience. However, schooling during a pandemic offers many positives, giving more introverted students less anxiety and pressure, providing students more freedom to explore passions and manage their time, and forcing students to put more attention and care into their personal relationships. Kobylski said, “Is it possible that being far apart is bringing us closer together? I think so.”