School-Sick: Normalizing e-learning

Students find ways to make a school away from school


Seniors McKenna Marshall, Maddie Nicks, and Hailey Skowysz at the beach attending class together.

Campbell Clanton, Assistant Features Editor

 One of students’ biggest complaints about virtual learning is how it has stripped them of all of the best parts of high school, especially the socialization. Some students have also found it strange or demotivating at best to simply log into a laptop from their beds; they crave a sense of structure and normalcy. During the last several months, students have started to find new and unique ways to improve or normalize their high school experience.

   For senior Arjunan Subramaniam, it was building a desk from scratch, as well as a home theatre, that helped enhance his quarantine experience

  To build the desk, he bought all of the materials himself. Subramaniam used wood pieces, screws, wood glue, wood stain, and paint to complete the legs, top, frame, and leg support. This took him only a day despite having o to measure out dimensions of the room and the desk in addition to assembling it. But to Subramaniam, it was worth the effort.

   “I’ve always loved building things on my own. It gives me satisfaction that a store-bought thing cannot,” Subramaniam said.

The home theatre Subramaniam built.

   Subramaniam also built a home theatre due to the extra time he now has. He had always wanted one, so his family bought speakers, a subwoofer, a new couch, and a projector. He programmed a Google Home device to make this room voice-controlled, as well as adding reactive LED lights underneath the couch. If he says “movie time” to Google Home, it will turn off the main lights and turn the cinema lights and projector on. When he says “movie’s over,” the entire system turns off, the main lights turn on, and it tells the time. This process took a week.

   “We could have had workers build it, but to build something like that and make it voice-automated is a sense of joy itself,” Subramaniam said.

  As another way of normalizing their “classroom” experience, many students also organized and attended their virtual classes with friends to create a similar experience to being in class with others. According to an informal survey, about 45 percent of students surveyed had attended online school with friends at one time or another.

 Senior Haley Skowysz even took in a change of scenery, attending virtual classes from the beach with her friends.

   Since homecoming was cancelled this year, some students decided to create their own. Fake homecoming, or “foco” as many named it, was another way of normalizing the experience of high school from home.

   Sophomore Sophia Comerford was one of the students who created a foco. Similar to how homecoming would normally be, she got ready with her friends, went out to eat, and took pictures.

   “It definitely felt different because there was not a dance we were going to. We basically were just hanging out but dressed up nicely,” Comerford said.

   Senior Caroline Snearer also partook in a foco with music, food, and dancing.

   “I’m glad I got to enjoy one final ‘homecoming-like’ experience even if it wasn’t the actual thing with my closest friends,” Snearer said.

   As we enter another quarter of virtual learning,  students will have to continue to make the most of their virtual experience in creative ways.