Change in the educational setting during these abnormal times has led students at Northgate High School to overcome great difficulty and prevail over various challenges. This year’s importance has been placed largely on efforts to make time away from a traditional school setting the best it possibly can. Whether through virtual lunchtime events that our Leadership class graciously hosts, Wellness Wednesday activities, or by using the help of social media, our school, as well as schools all around the world, have sought ways to keep student morale high. Over the past year, our Leadership class, which is usually responsible for putting together spirit days, Homecoming, and other school functions, has had to adapt to the limitations presented by distance learning. Events such as spirit days, rallies, and fundraisers, have been modified into virtually inclusive events. In fact, our Leadership class is in the process of putting together our first-ever virtual rally, where students have the opportunity to submit a picture or video to be featured!
A special highlight from this year was the creation of the Bronco Newscast. Since school is not in person, the school’s administration wanted to make sure students were getting the information they needed about upcoming school-related events. That led our class to create Bronco News, a now reoccurring school news segment that is shown in Homeroom every week. Segments can range anywhere from sports updates, all the way to fun facts about cats!
It comes as no surprise that teachers and Northgate administration have worked extraordinarily hard to make this time as accommodating and close to a normal school year as possible. Adapting to a new virtual format is practically like learning a new language. In an effort to help provide a connection outside of class time, teachers and students have begun lunchtime activities like Kahoot trivia games along with Wellness Wednesday activities to allow students to put aside school for the selected time and relax. Our teachers considerately host a variety of workshops on Wednesdays in that same effort to help relieve stress and keep spirits raised among their hardworking students.
Motivation to put effort into schoolwork, while putting that same quality of effort toward activities, has languished. Finding a way to play sports has become hard for students, many whose seasons have been cut short or canceled altogether. The environment sports bring has been heavily altered by safety precautions, limited seasons, and reduced games. Students have also not been provided opportunities to make new friends this year, and going out of your way to make friends virtually has proved to be awkward on countless occasions. Although all of the precautions have been put in place with the children’s best interest in mind, these large-scale accommodations have been tough on students who look toward their school for a sense of camaraderie and community.
On a positive note, one of the most highly student-commended aspects of distance learning has been the schedule change. School days begin later in the morning, the time we’re in school is shorter, and lunch is extended to an hour, providing students with the chance to take a much-needed break from their screens. Many students choose to use this time to study with a friend over Zoom, call a loved one, and maybe even take a quick nap! Another great benefit of the schedule change is the midweek break on Wednesday, which is used for independent work time. This supplies the chance for students to study on their own time and create their own schedule, helping them become more independent.
While the struggles of remote-learning still stand, hope for the future of in-person learning lives on as local vaccine distribution increases and COVID cases decrease. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is that we have all been pushed to become more self-reliant, and have been taught to deeply cherish the time with those who we love the most. As Leadership students, we can only hope to be together next year and once again laugh, smile, and work as a class. In the meantime, we rely on our resilience to keep us going.
By Prapti Pradhan, Harshada Sharma, and Ella Kopper, Northgate High School Students