In their own words, Part 1: Students share tips for school success while virtual or remote

by Graham Lindsay & Jackson Heath

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part article written by students in the Berkeley Springs High School journalism class.

As the Pandemic pushes on, students at Berkeley Springs High School do the same! Faced with the challenge of a new learning environment, students show their true strength and perseverance and get exceptional grades in the first semester. We interviewed a handful of students recommended by BSHS teachers to see how they have adapted. They shared some advice they had for other virtual students.

Owen Rockwell, 10th grade

Owen Rockwell, 10th grade, has been a virtual student for the entire 2020/21 school year. According to Rockwell, there were two outliers about the hardest parts of virtual school.

“The disconnect from the instructor,” he said. “Sometimes I understand the topics, and other times it takes me some time to really comprehend the topics.”

He said the other hard part was communication as “some teachers don’t respond, or they are extremely vague in their responses.”

Rockwell really appreciates when teachers host zoom calls during class or schedule private zoom meetings, “it really gives that one on one feeling.”

He would like to share some advice with fellow virtual students: “Get up at the same time you would if you were going to school,” as it helps with communicating with teachers.

Another piece of advice Rockwell shared was that students should check their Chromebooks throughout the day, just to check on new assignments and new due dates. He said that the only thing he would change would be Schoology. He, and many other students, have noticed that there are recurring glitches throughout the program. Overall, Rockwell has learned the most from his health class, especially with how to stay active and how to prevent diseases.

Taylor Fox, 10th grade

Taylor Fox.

Taylor Fox is in 10th grade and has been a virtual student since the beginning of the school year. Fox has one very big problem with learning online. She says, “trying to understand a new subject that you may need face to face instruction for has been difficult.”

Taylor has also been faced with internet problems. She noted that most of her teachers reply to her messages very quickly and that most teachers are extremely understanding when it comes to questions about the material. Her best piece of advice to other students is to “get up early so you can finish your work in the morning.” Fox says making a schedule can really help in being successful with your work. She also enjoys when teachers send fun, entertaining course material.

Haden Fincham, 11th grade

Haden Fincham, 11th grade, was recommended by his teachers to spotlight his academic success this year. He is a junior this year and has been a virtual student since the start of the 2020/21 school year. Haden feels the hardest part about learning virtually is “finding motivation to get onto a laptop and do work without having real contact between teachers.” He says one thing that is very helpful, is that teachers organize their assignments into weeks/days and into different categories. Haden had one piece of advice he wanted to share: “while it’s very hard to find motivation, you have to push yourself. A goal you must set for yourself in high school is graduating. Push yourself in high school so you can succeed in the future.”

While there are many things Haden said he would change, one stood out: “Give the teachers a raise.” He says that this year teachers have gone above and beyond.

Cassandra Sutton, 11th grade

Cassandra Sutton.

Cassandra Sutton, junior, is a full-time virtual student and on track to graduate early. Cassandra chose to be virtual this year as it is more flexible when it comes to her job.

“The hardest part of my classes this year,” said Cassandra, “was that I had to teach myself some of the material, or look things up online to really understand how to do the assignments.”

She also says that it is difficult not having a teacher in front of you, but notes that her teachers respond to her messages very quickly, and do video tutorials with her. Sutton’s advice to virtual students is: “Try working with other students if possible, to help keep you on track and finish everything. Think about the end result, which is ending this school year with good grades, going into summer, and graduating!”

If there was anything she could change, it would be “not having so many different websites to log on to with so many different log-in information to keep track of.”