High school is a joke, and nothing seems real anymore. Today is April 6.
I woke up at 9 a.m. and, after seeing a flurry of questions on GroupMe all referencing an email students received earlier this morning, checked my Outlook account. While I had expected Columbia Public Schools to make some changes to how grades and classes will work in light of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, the complete upheaval of education as I know it shocked me. As of the March 10 Interim Progress Report, I was, and continue to be, passing all of my classes. With the updated policy, my grades will show as “P” (for pass) and not actual letter grades. It seems that for all academic intents and purposes, I’ve “graduated” high school.
While students are welcome to continue engaging in their classes, the district’s expectations have dropped substantially and no longer require us to participate for the rest of the semester if we are passing. I had a Zoom meeting for my Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition class at 9:30 this morning, and after speaking with my teacher and hearing my classmates’ questions I felt no less frustrated with the grading change. As a second semester senior, I would love the opportunity to completely check out of school with no consequences, but as a soon-to-be college freshman, I am worried my learning will plateau and decline without rigorous instruction. I am taking four AP exams (Biology, Literature and Composition, Calculus AB and Psychology) in the next month or so. I understand teachers need to readjust their expectations to meet the current, trying circumstances, but I am nervous I will feel unprepared for these tests.From the various grades-related conversations I was a part of today, I sensed a general tone of confusion about what exactly the new policy meant for each individual. I suppose everyone will need some time to adjust to the reduced expectations, but I hope we can move forward quickly to continue preparing for fast-approaching college readiness exams.
Aside from constant conversation surrounding the policy change, I spent my day taking care of myself and finding ways to be productive. After my lethargic Sunday, I was determined to be productive today. Following my Zoom meeting, I took a shower and shaved. I think I should start keeping a schedule of when I’m showering to make sure I am keeping up with my personal hygiene. Afterward, I enjoyed a bowl of cereal and watched Criminal Minds. I helped my mom off and on with minor issues on the yearbook and edited my fellow Editor-In-Chief’s news story regarding the updated grading policy. I felt especially proud of myself for responding to a few long-overdue emails in my inbox.
For the last five years, I have been an electronic pen pal with a girl I met at a leadership camp the summer before my eighth grade year. She and I have kept in touch, but during this past year I’ve been painfully slow about responding. With school, extracurriculars and my general lack of motivation, I’ve let our communication fall to the wayside. I opened my Gmail and saw not one but two emails from her in the last month, neither of which I’d responded to. I got to work and replied on a separate chain entitled, “Hello during a pandemic!” I talked about what I’ve been doing this last month, how my life is and how sorry I am for not responding sooner. I hope she accepts my apology, and I’m making it a goal to prioritize replying more quickly going forward.
Out of the blue, I also received an email from my eighth grade social studies teacher, Chris Horstmann. I was planning to reach out to him soon, so his message was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed his course and liked having the chance to catch up with a former mentor who I greatly respect. We talked about our thoughts on the grading policy change and chatted via email about life for a little while. It is strange to think how one event, in this case the COVID-19 pandemic, can affect a countless number of people in myriad ways.
“I find them fascinating, admirable even; those people who are sensitive enough to feel everything but tough enough to endure it.”
The rest of my afternoon and evening consisted of watching Batwoman, enjoying a delectable dinner of ribs, carrots, fruit and mashed potatoes and gravy and playing Spades with my family. I hope I’ll be able to adjust to my new reality soon, especially since the future of my AP test scores now depends on my resilience and internal motivation. I suppose all I can really do is take each day as it comes, hope for the best and rely on the same work ethic that has helped me through my entire educational career until now.
“I find them fascinating, admirable even; those people who are sensitive enough to feel everything but tough enough to endure it.” ― Daniel Saint
How did you spend your 20th day of social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.