Virtual School: A New Mountain to Climb
School. School is a place where we learn and grow, a safe haven for all people and ideas alike. From writing the abc’s to analyzing quadratic equations, school transforms us into better versions of ourselves with every class, event, and friend forging unforgettable experiences.
I can vividly remember my first day of middle school, the countless number of students, the campus comparable to an ocean. I would always get lost navigating to my class, strolling to room 205 only to find out that my class is actually located at room 505, which was miles away from where I was. That day, I asked myself why P.E. was even a mandatory elective, considering that walking to classes is an exhausting exercise. Of course, after a few weeks of middle school, the limitless ocean soon became a lake, and I could easily swim my way to various classes and rooms.
Even though the middle school campus might’ve shrunk in my mind, the wave of experiences had just begun. UIL Academic Competition, National Junior Honor Society, Student Council, spring dances. These activities allowed me to develop my leadership skills, help others via community service, and forge unforgettable friendships. I could still remember going to a retirement home for the Student Council; singing Christmas carols, handing scarves, and lighting the hearts of everyone at Park Manor retirement home.
Middle school meant more flexibility, especially with our choice of electives. One of my favorite classes in the 8th grade was engineering. As soon as I stepped foot in the room, I knew that this class was like no other. The room had about 6 square tables, each equipped with a sturdy wooden top, many lockers, and four stand-up chairs. Quotes by my favorite scientists and innovators like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein populated the walls of this dream classroom. It was as if this classroom was made for me! A pity that each class in middle school only lasts for 48 minutes, because I could stay in that room forever. One of my most favorite activities in Engineering was 3D printing. I loved the process of modeling a complex design on the computer and then bringing it to life on the 3D printer. So far, I animated two models: a candle holder and a chess set. But more than the projects themselves, I enjoyed collaborating with my fellow classmates, working together as a team, and possibly inventing Tomorrow.
Overall, middle school, especially the 8th grade, was a gift packaged with amazing classes, a wave of new friendships, and unforgettable experiences. But then, the month of March sprung, carrying COVID-19, a nation-wide lockdown, and online school with it. I thought it was going to be okay, that after 2 weeks, I could return back to school. But the two weeks turned into three weeks, until the end of April, until May 4th, and until the end of summer. So, after mapping out these endless extensions of online learning in my head, I knew that I had to adapt to the change. But virtual school just won’t be the same, sitting at one desk all day long, only able to view mere after-images of your friends and teachers faces constrained in their own boxes in a conference call screen. It’s not the first day in high school, just the first day of high school. However, virtual school doesn’t need to be approached as the big-bad; it’s just a different experience, a new mode of learning, and another mountain to climb.