Virtual connection: Student interactions during online school

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Courtesy of Irene Yannakakis

While completing online schoolwork, seniors Irene Yannakakis and Anna Pavilsin share a laugh. Yannakakis has been seeking hangouts as a way to connect with her friends during virtual learning. “I have done online school with my friends a couple times, but it’s basically just us sitting on our computers with our headphones in,” Yannakakis said. “Although it’s nice to have someone next to you, it would be way better to be in school.”

To counter new COVID-19 rules students are finding ways to remain connected in the virtual world of learning. 

Junior Ella Mercer:

As students miss eating lunch with their peers, junior Ella Mercer and her friends have used technology to regain social time lost because of virtual learning.

Junior Ella Mercer and her friends eat lunch on a Zoom call. (Courtesy of Ella Mercer)

“I have kept in touch with friends a lot during virtual learning. Whether that means FaceTiming between classes or at lunchtime, hanging out after school or texting them throughout the day,” Mercer said. “We are all very close so it isn’t as much of a challenge for my friends because we don’t even go an hour without texting or calling each other.”

Mercer is on a club soccer team that practices two to three times a week, with games on the weekends, allowing her to connect with teammates.

“It’s nice to get to be out there with some of my closest friends, even though it’s not friends I go to school with. It’s at least people I love, [that] I get to see all the time,” Mercer said.

While at home learning, junior Ella Mercer has a virtual lunch alongside her friends: juniors Claire Leduc, Ethan Wrozier, Katelyn Ernst, Alianna Henschel, Alex Spangler and Elly Clardy. Students have been using Zoom not only for classes but also as a way to keep in touch with one another.

“I don’t have much time to go see my friends during the school day, so talking to them on the computer or over the phone helps me stay close to them even though we’re not together,” Mercer said.  

Sophomore Jack Goedde:

Technology has been an asset for sophomore Jack Goedde as he connects with other students by playing video games online.

“It’s been hard to keep my interactions with my friends due to the workload I’ve had with some of my more difficult honors courses. I work out with one of my closest friends, [sophomore] Luke Beveridge, every night, so I can keep in touch with him,” Goedde said. “When it comes to my other friends, a few ways I keep up with them is through group Facetimes, youth group and video games.”

Sophomore Jack Geodde poses in front of his computers. (Courtesy of Jack Goedde)

Goedde has confidence that the rest of the quarter will fly by and things will almost be back to normal soon.

“I think it’s doable because I’m still able to talk to them [friends] and it’s not like I haven’t already not been seeing them much in person due to the virus. But I am already counting down the days until I get to go back to a school environment,” Goedde said.

Junior Haroon Nasufovic:

While most students are having trouble focusing in their own homes, junior Haroon Nasufovic is tackling virtual learning more than 5,000 miles away in Bosnia. 

Junior Haroon Nasufovic does virtual learning from Bosnia. (Tasneem Nasufovic)

“We were initially planning on going over the summer, but because of the virus we couldn’t go. When we realized that school was going to be all online we took that opportunity to go visit family, have little trips and do online school all together,” Naufovic said.

The time difference in Bosnia is five hours, making virtual learning and time management difficult.

“I have to wait a whole day to go to school which starts at 5:00 p.m. here. When I finish school at 9:00 p.m. I get an hour with my friends and go to sleep,” Nasufovic said. “Since I don’t have any time to do homework after school I do it in the morning of the next day which is annoying because I forget some things by then.”

Freshman Carson Rakers:

Not only adjusting to a new school, but also adjusting to a new learning environment is freshman Carson Rakers.

Freshman Carson Rakers starts high school from his home. (Laurel Rakers)

“I think learning online is challenging, but easier than real school at the same time, because it’s not hands-on learning,” Rakers said.  “It’s hard to interact with your friends because you can’t talk to them over a call.”

One way Rakers is able to connect with peers is through football. 

“Playing football has helped me stay positive during this time, just going out there and even just getting the chance to practice with my friends has made me feel much better about everything going on right now,” Rakers said. “This is a weird way to start off my high school career, I feel like I am not making connections with my teachers nor peers.”

Senior Irene Yannakakis:

Rather than hanging out in the traditional senior lounge, senior Irene Yannakakis is learning and lounging from her home.

“Personally, [I think] online learning is the worst. It’s just the teachers lecturing us and although they try to do more interactive things, it’s still very hard to stay focused,” Yannakakis said. “It’s very hard since school moves so fast and our break is so short. It’s hard to text my friends since our lunch break isn’t very long.”

Yannakakis seeks sports and weekends as an outlet to her friends.

“I have been hanging out with friends a lot, since I’m not seeing them at school. I’m missing that social aspect. I’m also playing volleyball, so I get to see some more friends during that,” Yannakakis said. “I can sit on my computer all day knowing I get to see my friends and teammates after which [the anticipation] makes online school more bearable.”