When schools go virtual due to COVID-19, students are enabled to learn online. Gilmour made the decision earlier this year that it would reopen through a hybrid model meaning that students would switch off on coming into school and studying online or in the Virtual Learning Zone (which is housed on the main stage in The Lorraine and Bill Dodero Center for Performing Arts) every other day. Gilmour also gave students the choice to decide if they wanted to come back to campus or remain 100% online. Some students chose to be 100% virtual and make the best of their online learning option.
Dylan Stefan ‘21 decided to stay virtual this semester as he “had the opportunity to play hockey in New Hampshire while still attending the school he has gone to his whole life.” The 100% virtual option enabled Stefan to skate and train every day without limiting his ability to attend Gilmour in person. Before Gilmour implemented the 100% online learning option, it would have been impossible for Stefan to attend Gilmour and play hockey on the East coast. However, this year has let 100% virtual students take advantage of studying in new places.
In addition to giving online students the opportunity to study anywhere, a virtual classroom also grants flexibility within student schedules. Stefan explained that he usually trains from 8:30-11:30 a.m. whether that be on the ice, in the workout room, or in a team meeting. He is able to devote more time to hockey because he can complete his coursework at a time outside regular school hours. Since virtual learning also has many teachers recording their lessons via Zoom, hybrid and 100% virtual students can watch the lessons whenever. Stefan sees this arrangement as giving 100% virtual students a huge advantage.
Online learning has also allowed students to prioritize their time when completing their school work. Furthermore, Elizabeth Horowitz ‘21 is a competitive figure skater, and she has found that completing her A block work the night before her class the next day, has allowed her to skate in the mornings. Horowitz explained that like Dylan, she usually trains around 17 to 18 hours per week, so having the opportunity to skate in the morning has helped free up her afternoons.
The flexibility that many students have while remaining virtual is not the only upside of studying online, though. Virtual students have expressed that they feel included in Gilmour’s community while learning virtually. When asked about what keeps the Gilmour community connected, Jacob Lowery ‘23 said “sports are the primary source of interaction with fellow GA students.” As Gilmour gives student athletes the opportunity to return to the in-person classroom, virtual students may also participate in athletics and use the weight room.
Another way students are finding a way to stay connected to their school community is through clubs. Many clubs are hosting virtual meetings via Zoom. However, this has not stopped extracurricular activities from being in full motion.
Students have been using technology to their advantage. This has allowed all students to collaborate, whether they are on campus or not. Horowitz said, “I have been able to co-lead SADD club by zooming into meetings.” By giving online students various opportunities to interact with the school community, Gilmour has instilled its inclusivity beyond its campus and into the homes of those studying virtually.
This year has been challenging for Gilmour students and teachers alike. Whether you are a 100% virtual student or learning remotely for the day, these new learning options allow students to pursue their athletic interests like hockey and figure skating while they continue to pursue their academic interests or just affords the ability to stay home during this pandemic.