Electives Matter Too

Bailey Vrem, Reporter

 Starting remote online learning going into the 2020-2021 school year initially seemed like it would be a breeze and that we would have few difficulties. However, not only are our regular classes looking different, but our electives have also changed dramatically. Some might think that electives are straightforward and trouble-free, but in reality, the transition to remote learning is just as hard for elective classes. 

  For section leader Bailey Bianco, band class looks remarkably different from previous years. “We all practice on the zoom call but, we are muted so we can only hear the piano,” said Bianco, “and then we are always expected to practice on our own.” Mountain View band teacher Peter Toews is splitting the second quarter of band class into next semester so that the band will be able to play at the football games. Bianco is hoping that they will be able to march and play by then, as long as the year goes smoothly. 

  She also mentions the struggles of online classes because she thinks it’s weird not being with the whole ensemble. “The most frustrating part is that I’m a section leader and helping our freshmen or other people struggling in band is a lot harder to do online than in person,” Bianco adds, “but it’s also kind of nice because we can focus more on individual growth and practice!” 

  Other areas of the music department, including the various choir classes, are experiencing the same difficulties. According to choir council member Savannah Schlenker, they would typically have a full year-long course where the first semester was Ultraviolet show choir, and the second semester was jazz choir. Due to COVID-19, Ultraviolet is unable to happen because of the social distancing rules. “I am really bummed out,” she said,  “my favorite part of show choir was teaching everyone how to dance.” However, Schlenker said they will still have a full semester of jazz choir.  

  Perfect Harmony choir representative Rylee Huey hopes that choir concerts will be available next semester when her class is scheduled to start. Huey misses being with people and believes it’s more challenging to learn when lectures are online. 

  Choir coordinator Andraya Perron keeps them engaged with optional music theory lessons and other projects. Perron also has a vocal retreat scheduled that many plan to attend. Huey said, “We split the retreat into four different smaller groups, and they’ll be working together throughout the week on a lot of fun projects which will hopefully build a lot of connections and friendships.” 

  Both choir council representatives are looking forward to the upcoming retreat. “…we are currently using GooseChase, which is a great app for both fun and games.” Each team has optional assignments that can be completed by anybody in the group. Schlenker elaborates, “but I feel like teachers can really use it to have an engaging and fun class while still being able to learn!” Huey also mentioned that the choir council has been trying to create opportunities for students to have a connection with somebody in the choir so they can ask any questions or receive advice. 

  She said, “The vocal retreat is the only activity that we have planned so far because we don’t know what the rest of the year is going to look like.” Besides the significant uncertainties, Huey thinks that the retreat is a good balance between social time and learning how to navigate online resources. 

  One of the most prominent missing aspects of online learning is the social interaction piece. For kids that rely on being able to participate actively and ask questions in class, interacting with their teachers and peers isn’t an easy duty. Isaac Gilbert admits that he gets off task fast and also gets distracted super easily. Gilbert also says that it’s hard for students to get good examples, so they rely on self-teaching and experimenting. He has taken a couple of drawing classes during his time at Mountain View and said, “Depending on the student, it shouldn’t be too difficult for everyone because some people are really talented and can get things really quick, while others need a little bit more help.” 

  The content isn’t very laid out yet, as his teacher is trying to make online feel like more of a classroom. That can be a challenge when the students don’t have the materials they usually need in a classroom setting. Gilbert dislikes being stuck on a screen all day and states, “the social aspect of school is basically gone.” 

  Exercise is essential to our everyday lives because exercising regulates blood flow and spreads oxygen, which gives our body the energy we need to get through the day. Doing P.E online might seem like a ridiculous thing to do, mainly because it defeats the purpose of getting away from technology and moving around. However, Jill Fitzpatrick is making sure that her gym class is getting adequate exercise. 

  Students participating in her class have to promptly sign into their google meeting at 8:30 a.m., where they will take attendance and answer a daily discussion question. Fitzpatrick then goes over the lesson plan for the day, explaining what activity they will be doing that day. After that is completed, they move to an asynchronous time where they complete their assignment for the day. To wrap the day up, they return to the class with ten minutes left to go over what they did and share how it went. 

  Autumn Vrem is in Fitzpatrick’s class, and she thinks that being able to move around is very helpful but she also thinks it’s hard. “It’s hard because I know I get up and move,” she said, “but for a lot of kids, they just chose not too because they aren’t being watched.” Anbese Arthur is also in Fitzpatrick’s class with Vrem. He thinks that the online P.E course is worse than being in person.because “not only can you not play and participate with your classmates but it makes it so much harder to find equipment needed for each of the sports that we do.” The hope is that they will be back in person sooner rather than later so that P.E class can go back to normal. 

 

  Students and teachers wish that things could go back to “normal.” Matt Hall is among the list of teachers ready to get back on track and back into school. Hall states, “I was, and am still, worried about getting the work done. Sometimes it’s hard enough to get kids to take care of these things, to begin with.” Lack of participation is all too tempting when you’re stuck behind a screen that can quickly turn off. Hall understands that electives are tough in this climate, but he also reassures everyone that he thinks, “the staff at MV is good enough and smart enough, to navigate any pitfalls we may come across to get our students where they need to be.”