Zoom university: Freshmen share their experiences

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Allison VanValkenburgh

Laying out her papers, freshman Allison VanValkenburgh does her homework. VanValkenburgh is getting used to switching over from paper to digital. “in normal school we would’ve had more paper assignments.and I learn and test the best on paper,” VanValkenburgh said. “With learning being 90% online, it’s hard adjusting to the new norms and expectations.”

Virtual schooling has hit the mid quarter mark now, and the freshmen class has adjusted to their first weeks of high school, well actually, virtual school. From online PE to learning music through a screen, they’re experiencing the beginning of high school in a whole new, unexpected way. 

Freshman Emily Early’s expectations for high school were nothing like what she is experiencing. 

“I expected it to be like the movies, lots of groups of different people and everyone finding their group. I thought it would be more about experiences,” Early said. 

Students like freshman Malik Abdulnabi, who is new to the Parkway district, faced difficulties with coming to a new school in a virtual format.

I was excited for the first day and a bit nervous,” Abdulnabi said. I don’t think it was as nerve-racking as it would’ve been in real life because I can just close all my classmates’ images and only show my teacher’s video so it’s as if it’s a one-on-one class.” 

Yet, for students like freshman Allison VanValkenbergh, virtual learning has heightened her nerves. 

I think I was more nervous about going into distance learning because I couldn’t meet and interact with my teachers and classmates,” VanValkenburgh said. “I was most nervous about going into classes with older grades, specifically upperclassmen. I didn’t know what to expect, or even if I’d have any classes with upperclassmen.”

While the nerves may have settled after a month of school, freshmen like Abdulnabi are still unable to meet in person.

“I don’t know any of the people in my classes and it’s hard to make friends online. But they’ve all been friendly in breakout rooms. In each class, I have a different set of people, so I don’t have a set group of friends in my class,” Abdulnabi said. 

Typing away at his computer, freshman Malik Abdulnabi attends his daily classes. Abdulnabi enjoyed his first five weeks of school. “It has been pretty busy with not much to do except homework,” Abdulnabi said. “The teachers have been friendly and staying positive which I love.” (Dana Abdulnabi)

Students new to the district, like Abdulnabi and freshman Mason Cummins, are having trouble with the social aspect of high school as they are unable to form relationships in traditional ways. 

I have not met any new people. It is hard to meet people virtually. I have classes with people that I know, but none have really become my friends,” Cummins said.

Freshman Jordyn Anderson has been in the Parkway School District since kindergarten, and does not feel the same social stresses and Abdulnabi and Cummins.

“I was looking forward to seeing my friends again and my friends in higher grades,” Anderson said. “I have a few classes with my friends, but it’s not like we can really talk.” 

VanValkenbergh reconnects with not only current friends, but also with older classmates via zoom.

“I’ve gotten closer with friends that I grew apart from, so that’s really cool. I have my first hour with my best friend and twin sister, and it’s really great because we can collaborate with each other and help each other on assignments,” VanValkenbergh said. 

With the quarter halfway completed, talks of returning to school have begun, and freshmen Mason Cummins hopes for an in-building experience.

“While school so far has been fun, I do hope to experience non-virtual school. It just seems like the better option,” Cummins said.