Education is Essential

COVID-19 has presented a tremendous challenge for Saint Ignatius High School to balance our mission of providing an academically rigorous, Catholic, Jesuit education along with the health and safety recommendations of leading healthcare experts. On Monday, March 15, students returned to full-day, in-person learning.

Saint Ignatius High School

Justin Ortega '23 on Distance Learning

Freshman Justin Ortega is starting to adapt to the quirks and expectations of learning from home. His teachers make themselves available during "office hours" to answer students' questions. Still, he says, "I look forward to the future where everyone socializes at school again."
Q: What was it like to start online learning from home? Tell us about an interesting class or lesson you've had so far.
 
A: Starting online classes from home is very strange because the teacher is not there to positively communicate with the students. In my biology class, my teacher would make a couple of jokes at the start to fill the whole room with laughter and then he would start the lesson. The lesson would typically involve taking notes and interacting with the teacher. Now, my biology teacher makes these YouTube videos where he would give out the lesson, but we can't ask questions while he is teaching and it simply feels odd, since we are accustomed to an environment where the teachers and students communicate with each other on the spot.
 
Q: Which teacher(s) were particularly helpful in teaching you from afar? Did you attend any online "office hours" or live classes? What was that like?
 
A: My biology teacher (Mr. Popelka '84) and English teacher (Mr. Arko) are very essential in providing that we understand the material. Both hold "office hours" usually late morning or early afternoon where we ask questions about the current lesson or assignment we are assigned. Mr. Popelka holds live calls, which students can join to ask questions. Mr. Arko does the same thing, but through a Google Doc that he shares to all his students, where we type out our questions and he answers them. Though we can't attend a real class, both still employ the element of an interactive environment in these "office hours."
 
Q: How have you tried to set yourself up to get all of your work done? What are some challenges in this new approach to school?
 
A: I have made a schedule for myself to try to get my work for all the classes done. On a usual day, I'll wake up at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning and check any new assignments posted up that I need to do. I'll complete all the assignments due during that day and do a little progress on weekly assignments. After all that is done, I'll use my free time to do whatever I want at home. The challenging thing about this is that I have to force myself to do assignments. Being here in the comfort of my home can sometimes cause me to be lazy and not strive to accomplish any work. However, I do eventually realize that school is still necessary, so I have to remember to strive, no matter the circumstances we're in.
 
Q: What do you miss most about being on campus right now? How are you dealing with that?
 
A: I honestly miss being with my friends on campus right now. In addition, I certainly miss the interactive environment of my classes. However, the atmosphere is still in the "office hours" students attend with some teachers, and my other teachers will soon open up their own "office hours", so when they arrive, I'll be in the same setting again with my fellow classmates, except digitally. Also, I know this isn't going to last forever and everyone is in this together, so I look forward to the future where everyone socializes at school again.