With schools across the state and country ordered to close to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Huntington UFSD has implemented a distance learning plan to help address the needs of more than 4,500 students enrolled in eight separate buildings across grades K-12.
The remote learning program is obviously a dramatic departure from what students experience on a typical school day, but everyone is adapting as best they can.
“Right now, I am repeatedly checking Google Classroom as well as Remind for my assignments from my teachers,” sophomore Christopher Maichin said. “The good thing about Google Classroom is it shows you a list of what is due and when so I can properly map out what I am going to do and when I am going to do it and to make sure I hand it in on time. My teachers have made it very easy for us by reaching out through Remind and Google Classroom as well as by clearly stating what is due and when.”
Many secondary teachers were already utilizing various online platforms and that has helped make the transition to distance learning a little bit easier for students on the 7-12 level.
“Time management has been very important during this time,” sophomore Jordan Forte said. “I check in on Google Classroom periodically throughout the day to make sure I miss nothing. I am trying to stay active and have a daily routine so I can get all my work done and hand it all in on time. Adjusting to this new way of learning has not been easy, but I am adapting to it and will figure it out.”
Teachers, students and parents are all adjusting and doing their part during this unprecedented period.
“I sit down around 1p.m. and just do all my work at once to stay on top of it so later I can relax,” said senior Christopher Mavrogian, the high school’s student government president.
The rapid transition to distance learning has not been without some bumps in the road. “If I’m being honest, procrastination is hitting hard, but I’m trying to get all my work done earlier in the day so that I have the rest of the day to do as I choose,” senior Julien Rentsch said.
One of the top vocalists in the high school is also striving to successfully adapt to the drastic change in her studies. “I’m doing my regular daily routine as if I was at school,” sophomore Ashley Genao said. “I look on Google Classroom and finish my assignments for the day or week. As well as to keep sane during this period, I sing and keep active. I stay in contact with teachers and fellow classmates.”
Students are adapting to vastly different daily routines. “I’ve been keeping up with work, like many other students, on the Google Classroom posts assigned by my teachers,” junior Alex Gonzalez said. “The work is fairly light compared to actually going to school, but I still need to practice managing my time and getting the work done on time. When I’m done with all of my school work, I have plenty of leisure time, so I try to work on other projects. For example, all of the work needed for college.”
No one yet knows how long the distance learning plan will be needed. There is no indication yet from government officials when schools might reopen.
“I’ve been setting aside time every day to check Google Classroom and reach out to my teachers to make sure I understand the material, but then also setting aside time to relax and get other things done,” junior Taylor Case said.
Huntington UFSD students are proving once again that they are capable of rising to any challenge, regardless of how daunting it might be.
“I am trying to space out all of my assignments to make sure I complete them and receive a grade that I am pleased with,” senior Riva Bergman said.
While everyone would prefer to have things go back to normal as soon as possible, everyone is equally determined to help make the distance learning experience as productive as it can be.
“It definitely took a little bit of adjustment, but continuing to communicate with my teachers has made learning from home much more manageable,” senior Andrew Knowles said. “I think being at home, especially with other family members during this time, can create some distractions. I try to set a certain time, usually early, to complete my work. That way, I can stay focused on school for a little bit and then have the rest of the day to relax or spend time with family.”
Everyone is walking gingerly as they go along each day since the world is clearly in uncharted waters.
“Although my priority is my schoolwork, I’m allowing myself to use this time to get a good amount of sleep, eat well and spend time with my family, which is definitely helping me to do well on my assignments,” junior Tess Stanley said. “Generally, I am trying to do all of my assignments in advance so if I need help with completing them, I still have time to reach out to my teachers with questions.”
Huntington High School students are among those who have quickly pivoted to remote learning. They are all relying on their close connections to classmates and teachers for support.
“I am doing all my work as soon as is comes out so I can stay on top of everything,” sophomore Katie Browne said.
Students understand the need for the current remote learning program, but that doesn’t mean the transition to it has been without rough waters along the way.
“I’ve been making an effort to focus on the courses I know I can get AP credit for if I get high enough scores and trying to treat this as an opportunity to read more books with the surplus of free time I now have, what with the lack of school and social distancing,” senior Maddy Kye said. “The transition to online learning has been difficult in some ways, but it’s been smooth in that the schedule is more flexible.”
Sticking to a new routine and a vastly different daily schedule are definitely challenges for students. “I just try my best to set deadlines for myself and space out my work to keep it from stacking up and becoming overwhelming,” senior Justin Stevens said.
Students have been vigilant about staying on top of their lessons and assignments. Everyone hopes schools will be back in regular session soon.
“I’ve essentially just been keeping pace with the work that my teachers have assigned via Google Classroom,” senior Bryce Vitulli said. “Some have given us readings, others sent us Khan Academy videos and the like. A couple gave physical copies of lesson plans and worksheets that we’re to complete and submit online by scanning them with our phones. It doesn’t necessarily replace being in a classroom, but it keeps some semblance of being academically stimulated.”
Like his classmates, Mr. Vitulli is adapting to the new reality. “Many of my teachers have also been staying connected with us on Remind,” he said. “Lots of them are sending well wishes and have kept us posted regarding our situation, such as the sudden changes being made to the AP tests. It means a lot to know that they care about us and wish the best for us in these uncertain times.”
The closure of schools has led to a long string of postponements and cancellations in every school. Should schools reopen, some events will be rescheduled. Athletes hope the spring sports program can be rescued, at least to some degree.
“Throughout this time I’ve had a pretty consistent schedule,” senior Robert Jean-Gilles said. “I do work early in the day, go out for a walk midday and then watch movies at night. So far that routine has worked for me during this social distancing extravaganza.”
Students really do deserve kudos for adapting as well as they have. Teachers have worked hard to provide students on every grade level with the work and resources they need to keep their education moving forward.
“What’s helped me is keeping a schedule that’s similar to the hours I’d be working at school,” junior Grace Wildermuth said. “Talking to my friends when I’m confused about an assignment has been really helpful, too.”
Everyone knows that remote learning can never completely replace the classroom experience and all the additional activities that schools offer. But during this historic time, distance education is bridging the gap to the extent it can.
“At this point, I am just studying on my own for my AP tests with College Board material, but for all my classes all of my teachers have made it very easy to continue learning the curriculum by putting up material on Google Classroom,” senior Charlie O’Rourke said. “I just designate a couple hours a day to sitting down at my desk and figuring out what I have to get done and getting it done. I am still working with hope that both lacrosse and school will return shortly. In addition, I am doing whatever I can to prepare for college.”
Students are remaining optimistic about the future and everyone can’t wait to hear that schools are reopening.
“Though it can be challenging to work at home as if it’s a school day, I find it’s been helpful to stay within a schedule similar to the normal school day,” sophomore Ella Siepel said. “I maintain a little more flexibility than I would during a school week in order to be able to prioritize the subjects I feel need more work or are more challenging for me, but I generally try to do my work in the order of a school day. I also stay in contact with friends if I find myself confused about something and I can FaceTime with friends to get work done in a more social setting.”
Huntington UFSD’s website and other social media platforms, including the district’s Facebook page are all being updated regularly and parents and students are urged to log on regularly to stay abreast of new developments.
“There’s a ton of really useful resources that have been provided to the students do that we can continue to maintain our grades,” senior John Panos said. “My teachers often upload videos of the lesson for the week and for extra practice, assign work on other sites such as AP Classroom and Delta Math so that we can keep on top of our studies, but remain safe at the same time.”
The first six Huntington graduates were presented with their diplomas in 1862 at the height of the US Civil War. The district has endured through two world wars, the Great Depression and numerous other wars, calamities and outright catastrophes.
“Well, my working hours have definitely changed,” said Ryan Knowles, Huntington’s Class of 2020 valedictorian. “I get to sleep in much later than I would during your average school day. But really, to stay on top of things, I try to get my work done as the first thing on my schedule. I’ll take the time to wake up and get my breakfast and whatever else I need during the morning, but I try not to take too long to dive into doing my online assignments. Doing it first helps me avoid getting too distracted and it keeps me more aligned with the time of day I’d normally be doing work in-school. Plus, once it’s done, I have the rest of the day to spend with my family. I think it’s a schedule that’s worked pretty well for me so far.”
Staying positive has been vital to helping students navigate through each day. “What has been really helping me is doing all my work in the morning when I get up so I don’t lose motivation or just forget I have work throughout the day,” senior Maya Santa-Maria said.
Teachers have been very responsive to students reaching out for assistance.
“I have been checking Google Classroom regularly for work and comments from my teachers to stay on top of my work,” junior Alexa Amorison said. “I also create to-do lists to help myself organize and prioritize and then create a time window to do all of my work to manage my time and my work better.”
Social media has allowed students stay connected to each other, which has been invaluable as they go about their work across academic disciplines.
“I check Google Classroom every morning right when I wake up,” senior Abby Maichin said. “Then I plan out my schedule for the day. I include getting my school work done, exercise, lacrosse and eating right. I work my hardest not to stray from my schedule so I can have time at the end of the day to relax. I have been packing up my schedule so that I am not consistently doing nothing. I am always up and around and I am extremely on top of my school work.”
Students are also staying active with lessons and assignments from physical education teachers and through their own personal exercise programs.
“I usually just check the Google Classroom as soon as I wake up and try and get my work done right away so I don’t forget about it,” senior Lena Annunziata said.
Students are doing their best to keep pace. “I’ve been structuring my day and not waiting to do my assignments last minute,” sophomore Teddi Carnesi said.
Maintaining a high level of academic success is still paramount to students. “One of the things I’ve tried to do is maintain structure in order to stay productive,” sophomore Valerie Rogel said. “I try to wake up, start work, exercise and go to bed all around the same time every day in order to have a schedule. I’ve also found that completing my work in the morning gives me a lot more time to pursue other interests and relax for the rest of the day.”
Students are balancing many priorities. “Right now, I’m just making sure to keep on top of my assignments and trying to also prep for the AP exams that are coming up,” senior Diya Rai-Gersappe said.
With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, students realize that the current changes are necessary for the benefit of everyone.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I’ve had to adapt relatively quickly to this online form of learning,” sophomore Emily Geller said. “Luckily I’ve been able to fall into a schedule with it and I along with most other students have been keeping up the best I can. These circumstances are less than ideal, but having access to all the materials I need online is pretty convenient. This is a defining moment for our generation, so we are all trying our best to work with what we have.”