In the Eyes of Eagles: The 2019-2020 School Year

Friday, March 13, 2020 did indeed seem to have superstitious bad luck: It was the day everyone’s plans were canceled. With the COVID-19 pandemic moving EHS online for the third and fourth marking periods, students and teachers alike had to rapidly adapt to a whole new learning environment. Normally, students would be celebrating the end of the year with friends and family, bidding farewell to their teachers and friends in person, and looking forward to an active summer spent outdoors, but the new social distancing regulations have forced the Edison community to form new end-of-year traditions. Prom, Senior Day, and graduation could not occur during the calendar school year as to maintain social distancing. Students and teachers alike had many opinions on this year’s unprecedented ending.

With the transition to online learning, EHS staff had to learn to teach their students through Zoom calls, Google Meets, and other online resources.

“…There really is no substitute for in-class experiences. Tone of voice, body language, spontaneous interactions are all missing from the online experience,” English teacher Ms. Gina Corsun said. The lack of spontaneity that comes with online learning makes it difficult to learn through collaboration and discussion.

Online learning also makes it hard to say goodbye to students who are leaving the Nest.

“In an ideal scenario, we would all be together to end the school year in person,” said Mrs. Leanne Rubiano of the History Department. Various teachers have shared this disappointment at being unable to see everyone in person before the school year ends—especially seniors. Rubiano focused on the positives.

“I think everyone, teachers, parents, administration and students, have learned to be flexible in order to continue to achieve learning goals even in a last-minute complex situation,” she said. Changes such as the move from an unorganized online learning environment to an A/B schedule were appreciated by both students and teachers alike. 

Still, students felt sadness of not being able to see their peers and teachers before the school year ends. “I miss the fact of meeting my school friends and teachers. What I miss most is the vibe of school, I guess the liveliness,” Akanksha Singh ‘21.

The unexpected switch to online learning left many feeling confused. Physical distancing meant communicating digitally, which some students felt was inadequate.

“I feel like I didn’t really learn much through online classes, and feel like I’m just wasting time doing busy work,” commented Tiffany Mei ’21.

As a result of the separation, teachers were less effectively able to teach their lessons. Students have been responsible for teaching themselves content, underscoring the strain on self-discipline in quarantine.

However, many students shared the positive impact online learning has had. “The good thing is that now with online school, I have more time to do what I want,” Mei said. Many students agreed that they felt less stressed during online learning and got the chance to sleep more as well.

Normally, this time of year for seniors is full of events to commemorate the end of their time at EHS. With online learning, seniors have been particularly affected. The long awaited senior prom, College Decision Day, graduation at the Rutgers Athletic Center, and the senior English trip were canceled.

“Honestly, it’s the small things that I miss. My mom always says that you don’t really understand the value of something until it is gone, and even though it’s a pain to say my Mom is right, she is 100 percent correct on that one. For me, I miss the early morning visits to my favorite teachers,”Janaki Chandra ‘20 said.

This time of year should mark a transition for those graduates. “I think all of us were looking forward to the end especially with college apps being done, but as long as we are healthy and safe I’m still grateful. The last time my entire family was together was years ago, and just spending so much time with them right now, I grew to appreciate my siblings so much more, Chandra added.”

EHS has been celebrating end of the year traditions as best they can in this situation. Senior Awards Night was moved to an online ceremony to continue to celebrate the achievements of seniors after four years in high school. The Instagram page @EHS2020senyas was created for seniors who wished to share their future plans. Seniors have been emailing out virtual yearbooks to all classes to get online signatures. A virtual graduation has been recorded, and the administration has a plan for a physical ceremony to happen once regulations are lifted.

The spring sports season was canceled along with any anticipated tournaments, competitions, and championships. The College Board canceled spring SATs. This in turn led to numerous colleges no longer requiring the Class of 2021 to apply with their SAT/ACT score, including Rutgers and Princeton. In addition, various plans for extracurriculars and activities in the spring and summer have been put off to later dates. 

As for whether online learning will continue next year, many students and staff alike are unsure whether September will share the same fate as April, May, and June.

“Personally I don’t think school is going to open in September,” Anne Lee ’22 shared. With this reluctance, one possibility for next year is a new type of A/B schedule, where on one day half of the students will go and attend school regularly while the rest do virtual learning, and then vice versa. Although there are many who believe online learning will continue in September and many who hope otherwise, the future of the next school year remains contingent on the path of the virus and the governor’s restrictions. Only time, in other words, will inform the solutions for the fall.