First semester online: senior perspectives

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Photo courtesy of Leimarie Gacho

Lei-Marie Gacho

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, campuses began to close in March. As the pandemic worsened and the 2020-2021 school year began, many schools went virtual until they felt it was safe for students to begin in-person learning. Waipahu High School was one of those schools. We have been online since the first quarter and will continue to be online until the end of the third.

Normally, senior year would be full of the most memorable events of a student’s high school life. So far, we have been deprived of our senior luau and final homecoming. As a senior in high school, I do not feel the same sense of accomplishment that seniors normally do at this time of year. I find it very difficult to take in that there is a chance that I will not be able to walk across the stage in my cap and gown after having my name called, and hear the cheers of a crowd as I grab my diploma.

I am also not the only senior to feel this way. Waipahu High School senior and council member Jeyan Cornelio says that he doesn’t dislike the virtual learning environment, but does not enjoy it either. Cornelio mentions that he believed online learning was essential and was concerned about his own safety and his family’s, but began the school year with the hope that we would at least return for one quarter.

Even though he wants to return in time for graduation, Cornelio feels that virtual learning has actually assisted him in his senior year: “With a hefty senior schedule like mine, I do not want to waste time riding the bus or waiting for it when I have a lot of homework I need to do.” Cornelio also adds, “The best part of virtual learning is learning how to become independent.”

However, one of the major drawbacks of virtual learning that many seniors are concerned about is the honor system. Learning in an environment that is not completely controlled by teachers tempts many students to cheat. A lot of seniors explain that it is unfair for some to cheat their way to graduation, while many others have put forth hard work and dedication throughout high school. I understand that many teachers are trying to find ways to negate cheating, but it comes down to students’ academic integrity.

COVID-19 has deprived seniors of the milestone experiences that make a senior year truly special. From homecoming and senior luau to prom and graduation, it truly is unfortunate that seniors will not get to experience these events as they expected.