With One Foot Out The Door, Virtual Seniors Step Toward Independence

Senior Jet Stevenson wakes up feeling well rested, and logs into her first period class. After practicing the viola and completing her asynchronous assignments, she ends her school day with a book she chose for the week, something she had never done before online school. 

Jet Stevenson is one of the 70 percent of Wilde Lake’s seniors who have chosen to remain virtual. 

“I have bursts of productivity that would occur less when we were physically in school. I can do school and have time to myself to unwind,” she says.

Since the start of virtual school in April 2020, most students haven’t been back to the school building. The challenges associated with online school have been felt by students across the nation: silent breakout rooms, teachers talking to faceless icons, and a growing pile of assignments that are left untouched, week after week. Despite the difficulties, some students have found that they thrive in a school-from-home environment. 

Students like Jet Stevenson feel that being home has improved their mental health, because there is no social pressure to be okay all the time. Jet says, “I am allowed to have off days, while still doing school.”

Other students are focusing on improving their grades this year. Wilde Lake senior Vaniya Khan says that her GPA in the first semester of this school year had improved from previous years. “Virtual school has allowed me to have extra time to study,” she says. Vaniya adds that her academic improvement has helped her mentally because she can focus on her other responsibilities like watching her siblings and helping around the house, without having to choose one thing over the other. She says, “It takes a little weight off my shoulders.”

Senior Valeria Malorodova not only finds her school life easier, but also has started crafting and selling jewelry on Instagram with her spare time. She says that this new hobby gives purpose to her day. “Using my spare time to work on something I’m interested in makes me feel productive,” Valeria says. “Starting my business has made my long and repetitive days regain a purpose.” 

All three students chose to remain virtual for the rest of the school year. Jet, Vaniya, and Valeria anticipate a productive last semester of high school, with Jet adding that, “[Online school] gives me a space where I am comfortable, and the routine that I have now motivates me to work and feel accomplished.”