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Koonce keeps flexible online schedule 

THURS. | 04-07-22 | FEATURES

     As Rose comes upon its two-year anniversary of the start of COVID madness, Rose junior Kristian Koonce reflects on her decision to continue participating in virtual learning ever since the world shut down in 2020. She had a full schedule at Rose during her freshman and sophomore year, but now has a full schedule of online classes at Pitt Community College.

     “When I first heard that we were going virtual for only two weeks in 2020, I was really excited because I thought it was going to be an extended spring break,” Koonce said. 

     As COVID continued to affect lives beyond 2020, Pitt County Schools created a system for the 2020-2021 school year to account for the pandemic while still allowing students to learn effectively. This allowed half of the students at Rose to be in person while the other half were at home learning virtually; they would alternate each week. If students did not like this option or were not ready to go back for medical reasons, etc., they could choose a fully virtual option.

     “I did not want to be at school one week and

Ava_ graphic for kristian koonce.png

Graphic by Ava Alger

online the next, because I work better with a set routine,” Koonce said. “Having to switch up my routine each week would have been a struggle for me.”

     Fast forwarding to Koonce’s junior year, she had the opportunity to return to a normal face-to-face setting. However, Koonce decided that virtual learning positively impacted her as an individual more than coming to school in person. 

     “I think [virtual learning] has made me a more independent learner,” Koonce said. “I don’t have to rely on my peers as much for my understanding and I’m able to figure things out myself.”

     Having been successful in her previously online classes, she wanted to continue the style of learning that she felt most comfortable with. 

     “I decided not to come back to school junior year, because the previous year I took all online classes and created a good momentum,” Koonce said. “I didn’t want to stunt that by going back to school and switching up my schedule; I felt like it could affect me in a negative way.”

     With Koonce being a virtual learner, she had to set a routine for herself, which she found to have benefited her.

     “At first, it was difficult to establish a routine, but once I figured out a routine that worked for me, [virtual learning] has been pretty easy and I haven’t struggled at all with completing my assignments,” Koonce said. “Normally I will watch my lectures, do the reading for the class, then create an outline, study for quizzes or tests and take them.”

     However, with virtual classes, forming the strong connections that an individual would experience on a daily basis face-to-face with a teacher or a friend has not been as easy for Koonce. 

     “Not being able to see my friends and teachers as much as I would like has definitely been a negative effect of being completely virtual,” Koonce said. “If I were in school, I might have been able to meet more people, where now I’ve had the same group of friends for a very long time.”

     Koonce has not been able to experience any school activities since her freshman year, but she has not let that negatively affect her. 

     “There are certain aspects of the high school experience that I do feel like I missed out on, but it’s not anything that is weighing me down,” Koonce said.

     Some hands-on classes that Rose may have are not as simple and accessible to a virtual learner. Koonce has reminisced on a certain class she took her freshman year, but has not been able to continue. 

     “I took interior design my freshman year, and I had a really good experience taking that class, so continuing in that course is something that I do feel like I missed out on,” Koonce said. “It’s experiences like making genuine connections with teachers that aren’t as strong in a virtual setting.”

     Koonce believes that school is challenging, whether that be in a virtual or in-person setting. However, she has determined that virtual learning is the best for her and will continue to participate in this type of learning. 

     “School, no matter what, is going to be hard and affect you mentally, but being virtual has made me feel in control of my grades and my outcomes,” Koonce said.

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