Saint Ignatius High School

Matthew McKenna '21 on Distance Learning

"Upon first beginning online learning, it felt very surreal," writes Matthew McKenna '21 after 10 days of the new protocol for virtual classes at Saint Ignatius. Here he reflects on the lessons, challenges and his takeaways from experiencing school in a whole new way.

by Matthew McKenna '21

Upon first beginning online learning, it felt very surreal. Getting up late in the morning and being taught math by Mr. Gallaway on Zoom just felt bizarre. Seeing all my classmates' faces in a different location just felt surreal, and Mr. Gallaway’s unique tropical background only added to this strange feeling.

After this initial feeling wore off, the whole ordeal began to feel a bit overwhelming and confusing. My teachers have made and are continuing to make efforts to clear this confusion and to make this experience as smooth as possible. One teacher in particular who has helped with this transition is Dr. Caputo. From the start, Dr. Caputo was very helpful. She hosted a Zoom conference during which she laid out the schedule for us in a very organized way; she kept us updated about the changes due to the virus, especially those regarding the AP exams, and she even made a Google document that diagrammed the next few weeks, listed her office hours, and dictated all that was expected of us. Through Dr. Caputo’s actions and all my teachers’ actions, the challenges of this experience have been lessened greatly.

But despite all they have done, there are still some personal challenges I face in this experience. The main thing that challenges me now is making an effort to stay motivated. Being out of a classroom setting and having the freedom to complete work at my discretion is nice, but it can make it very difficult to keep my days productive, orderly, and structured. An additional challenge this experience brings is staying organized. Normally, I can stay organized at school without making deliberate efforts to write down due dates and homework assignments. But in light of these events, I have found myself needing to put in extra effort to stay organized. In order to deal with these new challenges, I have set aside a new area of my house to help me stay on task and have begun logging all due dates and relevant school events in a Google calendar.

No matter what I or my teachers do, there is no substitute for being present at Ignatius. I miss my teachers, classmates, and friends. But most of all, I miss extracurricular activities like Labre, Robotics, Pallbearers, Movers, and others. In order to deal with this I have tried to remain connected with my Ignatius brethren by attending the C.A.T. and Notre Dame Club Zoom meetings, participating in L’Arche activities, and keeping in contact with classmates through social media and spending time in the Metroparks with them, when possible.