Lansing students share memories after COVID-19 shutdown

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On the evening of March 13, as the cast of the high school musical “Once Upon a Mattress” took a bow at the close of their third performance, Director Cindy Howell walked reluctantly to center stage.

“We tried to play it off, welcoming her onstage for a bow,” sophomore Alejandra Benson said. “She played along, then did her announcement. The show was canceled.”

“I knew as soon as our director walked on to the stage that it was over,” senior Fiona Lory-Moran said. “I was really just mad that I had my senior show taken away from me.”

“We all felt kind of empty, as if that performance would be one of the last times we would see each other before graduation,” senior Catalina Zaloj said.

Later that evening, phones buzzed with the formal announcement from Superintendent Chris Pettograsso. School’s out - we’re going online.

Junior Monique Kapur-Mauleon was getting ready for the SAT when she learned it had been canceled.

“I cried for hours. I had everything planned out, trying to maximize my time before having to apply to colleges in the fall,” she said. “The next thing I knew, school had been canceled for an entire month, and that is what really put a wrench into my carefully outlined plan.”

Senior Trinity Edwards said that she felt confused.

“I didn’t know what that would mean for my senior year - prom, graduation, senior trip,” she said.

“I knew school was closing due to the fact that we were getting online stuff setup,” junior Antonya Crescenzi said. “This made me fearful because I loved being in school, doing one-on-one with teachers and being able to understand things better.”

Their teachers had used the week before the closing to get a head start on the technologies they planned to use, but their students already had the comfort and agility that comes with being online for most of their lives.

“We have been using Google Classroom for a very long time, and Zoom is just an easier way to communicate,” Crescenzi said.

Freshman Lucas Jackson said that “it didn’t take any time for me to figure it out” and junior James W. Emmick noted that he is “a PC gamer, so I know a lot of the tricks.”

Once online though, students found that different instructors had different online teaching styles.

“Some teachers just give us assignments and directions directly in Google Classroom,” Benson said. “Other teachers recorded videos of themselves as lessons. Some teachers have Google meetups at specific times during the week for students to pop into if they have questions. If you don’t have questions, you don’t have to attend.”

“I’ve had conferences with three of my teachers: two as needed and the other twice per week,” Kapur-Mauleon said.

“Class is weird,” Edwards said. “Seeing everyone through a screen and finding time for everyone to be able to do the Zoom is hard. We all have schedules now.”

“Most teachers understand that all students function differently, and while some students like to do their work right when they wake up around 8 a.m., others would rather sleep in until 2 p.m. and work on schoolwork later at night,” junior Hanna Thibault said.

“There is no question that how we are learning now is a stark contrast to traditional schooling,” Kapur-Mauleon said.

Sophomore Emmie Leonard likes the new environment.

“I think I am learning more,” she said. “We have a lot of free time to look up more stuff like if we don’t know something in Global class. It’s a lot more flexible than regular school especially with due dates.”

Senior Ariana Horstman doesn’t like the lack of structure.

“I think, personally, I’m learning less,” she said. “School adds an extra push to applying yourself within its environment, but outside of it, I don’t have that push.”

Thibault said that she is just learning differently than she would have if she went to school in person.

“The majority of my learning is done through watching videos and taking notes rather than having discussions and doing demonstrations,” she said. “It is not as fun, but I know the teachers are trying their hardest to make it interesting.”

Junior Audrey Lauzun sees an opportunity in this.

“There are some things that are easier to learn at home and others that I feel I need a teacher and a classroom, especially in language or discussion-based classes,” she said. “However, there is less work and more free time, which is nice. I’ve been reading more, teaching myself the piano and Hindi.”

The home environment presents its own set of challenges.

“I just wanted to lay in bed all day and treat this like a vacation,” Leonard said. “But I knew I had to get my work done in order to succeed. I love my family, but seeing them 24/7 is just too much.”

Thibault agreed.

“I have a brother, and we like to hang out together, but that can distract me from doing work,” she said.

Senior Morgan Boerman turned to her sibling for help.

“My sister, who is in college, makes me do my homework with her,” she said.
“I got a job on a dairy farm the day the closings were announced and I’ve been working there a lot since,” Emmick said. “My first week, I worked 48 full hours. I still come home at a reasonable time to get work done that needs to be done.”

Edwards has a unique challenge.

“I have a 1-year-old son who is almost 2,” she said. “He is very active, and it makes doing any homework difficult unless I go up to my room and ask my parents to watch him. But let’s be honest - I don’t like that. Being in school allowed me to do my work while I was there and go home and just spend the night with my son.”

“I never thought I would say this, but I miss being in school,” freshman Parker Vooris said.

“I miss my teachers,” Zaloj said. “I have forged strong relationships with these adults over the past four years, and it’s hard to transition from seeing them every day and making small talk to typing out a ‘hello’ in an email.”

“I miss seeing all my friends and teachers all day,” Boerman said. “It is now extremely different not being able to talk to everyone and see their faces. I also miss playing sports and going to sporting events.”

“I miss the necessary social aspect of learning,” junior Adam Avramis said. “That’s largely been ignored in remote learning.”

“My activities and friends are what drives me to do well and now that I don’t have them I feel really lonely and lost,” Isabella Babson said. “Like when you lose something and you can’t find it, let alone remember what you lost.”

“The uncertainty of the situation is the hardest part,” Thibault said. “It will get close to the set date to return to school, and then that date will be extended. We all know we are helping the worldwide community by staying home but would also like to know an exact date of the end of this social distancing.”

“All our teachers are very understanding and they know this is all new,” Leonard said. “They are doing the best they can, and I appreciate it. Lansing is doing an amazing job at getting kids needed materials and supplies in order to do their best.”

“I just want to go back to school,” Lory-Moran said. “I miss my senior year.”

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