30 Apr A Day in the “Graduate” Life
By Gionna, Hope Middle School Graduate
My name is Gionna, and I am a Hope alumna attending Walter B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences – the only high school in the country to focus on agriculture. As an eighth grade student at Hope, my interest in animals led the Graduate Support team to originally suggest Saul, and I love the opportunities here.
Currently I am a sophomore, and this year school looks a bit different due to COVID. My classes are all operating virtually on Zoom, which definitely comes with its challenges. Personally, I prefer learning via an in-school setting where I can physically be in a classroom with my friends. I am a hands-on learner, which makes focusing online a challenge because my interaction with teachers is limited. Additionally, ‘home’ introduces a lot more distractions such as television and cell phones. COVID-19 has clearly impacted the academic side of school, but, it has also affected the social side as well. Unfortunately, I do not get to see my friends anymore and school was a major outlet where I could learn and be a normal teenager. The pandemic has taken all of that away from me. I want to take you all through a day in the life of a virtual high school student so you can hear about these obstacles from a student’s perspective.
Every Thursday, I begin by attending my Zoom classes from the Hope Graduate Support Lounge where Ms. Sarah greets me bright and early. After I get settled, I log into the “Lamb Cam” – a 24/7 video feed that takes place in Saul’s barn that allows students to watch the sheep and monitor their progression. During a typical school year, this would all be done in-person. I miss visiting the barn and spending ‘actual time’ with the sheep – my favorite memory from last year was when I learned how to shear a sheep – but, I am grateful to be able to keep up with their status and development virtually.
My morning classes then officially start with Animal Science and English. Animal Science is a very important subject for me because my future goal is to own my own dairy farm. I won’t lie, it is strange learning about animals when we cannot see them in person. Currently, my class is studying horses and equine safety, but animal anatomy has been especially challenging without a physical reference in front of us.
After lunch, I sign into my afternoon classes – Algebra II and Biology. Learning math virtually has been a difficult experience for me because math concepts are harder to grasp without an opportunity for one-onone help from the teacher. Asking my teacher questions can be tricky because typing out questions and getting a response from the teacher is a slow process. By the time I have my question typed out, the teacher has already moved on to the next topic.
Once my “Saul” school day is over, I can spend time in at Graduate Support, but it is a lot different these days. Graduate Support is only allowing three alumni in the building at a time due to COVID restrictions, where normally there are about more than 15 alumni in the office. On the bright side, we are getting more one-on-one time with the Graduate Support Team.
As you can see, COVID-19 has heavily impacted the typical day of a high school student. Since the start of the pandemic, I have realized that I genuinely enjoy school. School is a huge aspect of my life, and I miss being able to go into the building to see my friends and teachers. Eventually, when in-person instruction is allowed again, I will approach school differently. I will be grateful to see some familiar faces – masked faces – and, I will be incredibly excited to reunite with the sheep and horses!