LOOKING BACK: As 2020 draws to a close, DGN students reflect on first semester. (Graphic by Kate Gross)
LOOKING BACK: As 2020 draws to a close, DGN students reflect on first semester.

Graphic by Kate Gross

Semester in review

January 1, 2021

Global pandemic? Check. Online and hybrid learning? Check. Changing sports schedules? Check. Virtual club meetings? Check. 

From Aug. 17 until Dec. 18, DGN students took on the challenge of engaging in a completely unique high school experience. As we say goodbye to first semester and 2020 altogether, students at DGN offer their insight into the ups and downs of online and hybrid learning, the challenges of socialization and participating in activities, and their hopes for the future.

 

To Hybrid or Not to Hybrid

Both the hybrid and remote learning schedules were completely new this year, and despite the hopes of the administration to be in hybrid, we spent much of the semester learning remotely. For Sophomore Ashley Mall, the remote learning experience was disappointing.

“I like hybrid learning more because it is harder to learn [while] remote. Also during hybrid, you get to see your friends and classmates,” Mall said.

Sophomore Audrey Lee also enjoyed the social aspects of being in hybrid, but she noted how learning online has impacted her perspective, as she now has become more comfortable with remote learning.

“Although at first I preferred hybrid, I think unfortunately I have become more accustomed to the remote learning schedule, and the thought of going back to hybrid stresses me out. I would love to go back to school because I miss things such as…having any type of human interaction with people other than my parents.” Lee said, “However, now I like remote learning more in these circumstances because with the hybrid schedule…I think I will find it hard to organize my work (and thoughts) while balancing the in-person with remote learning.”

The complexity of the hybrid format was also a drawback for Freshman Matthew Sirota. While he feels that neither model compares to normal in-person instruction, he viewed remote learning as the more effective option.

“Remote learning was very stressful and far less enjoyable than just normal school, but I felt like the hybrid schedule was not very beneficial for students and when you actually were in the school, it was very messy and confusing,” Sirota said, “I think that the amount of time you were given in-person didn’t really justify the chaos of the hybrid schedule. Remote learning was a lot more simple and easier to follow along with.”

 

Reimagined Clubs and Sports

Many activities this year were moved online in order to meet COVID-19 safety requirements, but for Senior Lindsey Good, the online setting was able to provide a positive element that is typically missing from school activities: accessibility.

“Usually in school, it can be hard to make time for everything, but through remote meetings it is easier to attend meetings you usually could not make. For example, for different club meetings, if I had to leave the house to get somewhere, I could still tune into meetings on my phone instead of having to skip them.” Good said. 

Junior Andrew Marron, who participates on the Speech Team, felt that the changes to online competition helped simplify meeting and tournament attendance, even if the experience doesn’t feel the same.

“Speech Team was still a blast when remote, and was even made easier to an extent by the necessity for being online…Everything being online made tournaments 3-4 hours shorter and even though the energy and hype around attending a tournament in-person is gone, the extra time is welcomed…It’s not the same, but it’s as close as we can get in these times.” Marron said.

For Senior Chris Morris, a member of the football team, practices looked a lot different. This year, the IHSA moved the usual fall football season to the spring due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Instead of regular-season practices, the team was allowed to participate in a set amount of contact days.

“I liked that we were able to have some contact days for football [which] allowed us to prepare a slight bit for the upcoming season.” Morris said, “I felt as if we should have been allowed to at least practice in shoulder pads and possibly have more contact days.”

 

Ready for Round Two

With first semester completed, DGN students prepare to tackle the 2021 portion of the school year. The new hybrid schedule is set to take effect on Jan. 5, DGN’s first day back from winter break. Good hopes that DGN will have more opportunities to be in hybrid within this new schedule.

“I’m hoping that cases in Downers Grove continue to decrease and that we can remain in hybrid learning longer than we did in the first semester,” Good said.

Junior Gwen Casten, a co-founder of the Empowerment Club, hopes to build on the progress her club has made within this past semester, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“We were able to expand on our committees and the activities done within them, we created a newsletter, and had new opportunities for meetings. I am excited for next semester and how we will continue to grow and adapt the club in a positive way.” Casten said.

Sophomore Jacob Bozeman looks forward to the prospect of a basketball season. As of now, the IHSA has postponed the winter basketball season. 

“I hope the season comes back for basketball but I think that they are doing well keeping us updated about what’s happening and keeping us filled in and engaged.” Bozeman said.

This semester, Morris hopes to achieve a sense of normalcy that has been denied to students as a result of the pandemic and leave DGN on a high note. 

“[In] second semester I look forward to finishing off my DGN experience strong and experiencing a little bit of what it feels like to really be a senior.” Morris said.

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