Okemos High School students voice learning challenges

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Annie Heeder

Annie Heeder reports from Okemos High School

On-line learning challenges

Imagine completing almost half of your high school experience on Zoom, and then being sent full force back to in-person for your senior year. It is the reality for Senior, Sarah Hamel. 

After making the transition to online classes a year ago, students struggled with losing the social connection that came daily with being in school in person.

When asked about her experience online, Hamel said it took a toll.

“I’m a pretty social person so being online was really hard for me in that sense,” Hamel said.

Jennifer Nguyen, a junior at Okemos High School, agreed with Hamel that the year online was anything but easy.

“It was hard because I’m a visual learner, so everything was just really scrambled. And then at one point I just gave up and stopped showing up and no one really cared too,” Nguyen said.

Senior, Bethany Hartman said that the year online did not have much motivation, which made the year very bland.

“The curriculum was cut so a lot of the fun stuff was taken out and it was pretty boring,” Hartman said.

Positives to in-person learning

There were some positive points that came with being back in person again, including being able to form the human connection again. 

A positive part about being back in person is being able to have that social life inside the school that the seniors missed during their Junior year online.

“Now that we have a full schedule, there’s definitely more structure to my day. which is a really good thing because before I was just sitting around for over half of the day. And also just seeing my friends and teachers face to face every day is probably one of my favorite things and being able to ask all the questions I can and talk to people normally,” Hamel said.

On-line learning challenges

Being in person for many hours a day after being online for only a few hours a day is taking a toll on students’ mental health.

Nguyen spoke about how being back in person was a shock to the juniors like her, going from completely online to in-person.

“It’s definitely a lot harder just because we have full days now, and it gets really tiring compared to like three hours of school though. All six hours. And it’s just like the homework load is just a lot,” Nguyen said.

There has been an adjustment period for going back in person after 9 months online, Hamel said

“Some of the most difficult things has been taking tests again because online, it just wasn’t the same. It was either through a Google form or they were easier in a sense, but now we’re back to normal tests, normal quizzes, and that’s been one of the most difficult things for me,” Hamel said. 

What adminsitrators can do

Being supportive as an administration means supporting students during difficult times. This is necessary to help students as they are back in school.

Nguyen has a good point to share about how the administration at Okemos High School can be more supportive of their students.

“I feel like it would have been better if we had like a soft transition, almost just adding an hour every week or something because that would have definitely helped with the sleep schedule and everything. And I feel like there should be a mental support group because I think a lot of us are mentally struggling right now,” Nguyen said.

Hartman also sees ways the administration at Okemos can improve.

“Slowing down and just having a lot of fun events at school just to like get people’s spirits back up and get them excited to be back,” Hartman said.

Photo of Okemos High School

Annie Heeder