After seemingly countless months of struggling with a mixture of in-class and online learning, seven students graduating from Leaside High shared their reflections on this unprecedented conclusion to their high school careers:
As a result of taking some online courses earlier, Alexis had no trouble getting used to the platform and routine of remote classes this year. In fact, she feels that she got a solid education and now finds it easier to retain more information with online resources and the teachers posting their lessons. She also believes that this opportunity helped her become “more of an independent learner, which will be beneficial in university.”
She did, though, miss the in-person interaction with teachers and classmates. She made the best of the situation through activities, especially with her “at home gym,” which was particularly helpful as “a de-stressor.”
She is excited about going to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough College for health sciences this fall.
Corwin found it difficult to adjust to online learning, but in time he got used to the schedule and discovered “effective methods of learning, such as being fully engaged in class.” He also found it hard to remain consistent and motivated and missed being with his friends. But while he feels the system presented difficulties for both the teachers and students, he says the teachers put in “an exceptional effort to help the students,” mentioning their late-night updates and response to emails.
Corwin stays connected with friends through his devices and has gone for walks and bike rides around the city to socialize with people at a safe distance. He is hoping for a more normal year at Queen’s next year where he will be studying science.
Simon found it took time to adjust to online learning and it was hard to stay on track and absorb information outside the classroom. He missed personal interaction. While it was difficult to maintain relationships, he and his friends used FaceTime and Zoom parties to stay connected.
Simon also enjoyed trying new activities like running, mountain-biking and skateboarding. Not only did these pursuits keep him active, but he was also able to get together with a friend or two this way.
Next year, he’s taking a gap year to “regroup” and take courses in instructing snowboarding and kite-surfing in Denmark and Austria. Since he has relatives in Denmark, he hopes to study engineering at Denmark Technical University after his gap year.
Jack’s biggest challenges were the online classes, workload and quick pace of the quadmester system. It was hard to focus without the classroom atmosphere, and he missed in-person guidance while working on tests and projects. A detailed schedule helped him to manage all his different activities. And while he praises the efforts of his teachers and the school to make the situation as normal as possible, he feels under-prepared for his university workload.
As a member of the hockey team, Jack was disappointed by the lack of school sports. He realized, too, how important his friends are to his mental health. While he stayed connected with them through social media, enjoying weekly meetings on Zoom, they are now eager to return to parks to play football, spikeball and baseball.
Jack is excited about his summer job in Muskoka where he builds and delivers furniture and equipment, and about taking a sports management degree at Brock University.
As an accomplished athlete in both soccer and track with a scholarship to the University of South Florida (see Leaside Life, January, 2021), Arden was understandably disappointed by the loss of game and race opportunities during her final year. Not only did she miss competing, but she also missed having “accurate measures of the progress” she was making in her training. While it was good to meet with her teammates and friends on Zoom, she missed seeing them in person.
On the other hand, Arden found it fairly easy to adjust to online learning except for the accelerated pace of the quadmester system. She feels she received a good education, but missed out on labs, which would have provided clearer understanding of the concepts involved.
She’s looking forward to training with her teammates again in the coming weeks before heading off to Florida where she will be studying kinesiology.
As a visual learner, Udanya found it challenging to adjust to online learning. She says her teachers did a great job, but she prefers being in class for the demonstrations that accompany lessons. She also found the quadmester pacing, online tests and work assignments requiring collaboration difficult to manage. Like the others, Udanya says school is more enjoyable with her peers there, but she connected with her friends online and they organized a movie night on “Netflix Party” once a week.
To stay active, she bikes, walks, plays piano and teaches dance online. But for Udanya, “the most rewarding experience” of the pandemic was getting a golden retriever puppy last year. She’s looking forward to a relaxing summer and getting ready for the “exciting next phase” of her life, attending the U of T for social sciences.
Elena encountered a few challenges during the past year, but managed to gain something positive from them. For example, she found it hard to adjust to “the accountability associated with online learning” in order to complete all her tasks. She prefers having the guidance of her teachers and the presence of her peers, but she found that making a detailed calendar enabled her to stay on track and will benefit her in university. In addition, the faster pace of the quadmesters was problematic, but the teachers’ modified lesson plans gave her the opportunity to apply her knowledge to real-life situations.
As someone who appreciates structure, Elena missed the daily routine of school, but she created a “balanced daily schedule,” which included time for academics, athletics and relaxation. She kept active with her training plan from her running club, bike rides with her friends and walks with her dog.
She is looking forward to opportunities to participate in clubs and teams at the University of Toronto where she will be in the Track One Engineering Program. While all of the students appreciate efforts to organize a virtual graduation ceremony, they hope to be able to take part in smaller prom-like gatherings in neighbourhood backyards for a more personal celebration of this significant milestone.
Best wishes to the class of 2021!