Looking Back and Moving Forward: 2020-2021

As the 2020-2021 year comes to an end, The Blue and White would like you to and stop and reflect on all the achievements and challenges that faced us at Apopka High school. The coronavirus threw some curveballs our way but we handled them, hopefully while still enjoying our favorite activities. Whether it was getting involved in clubs, spending time with friends, or creating new hobbies, the students and staff of the 2020-2021 will be sent home this summer with quite an interesting  high school experience. We asked a few students and teachers a few questions about their personal experience this year, this is what they said:

Students: What were your favorite parts of this school year?

Alyssa Ramos (Junior)- My favorite parts of this school year definitely has to be the bits and pieces of fun we were able to have with things like football games and makeshift prom.

Devin Leath (Senior)-My favorite part of this year was being able to play my last basketball season , even though COVID attempted to ruin that many times.

Trent (Sophomore)- My favorite part of this school year is definitely being able to come back from online and hang out with my friends again.

Brooke Bush (Senior)- This school year was different, but I still had some good times. I would say my favorite part was still being able to go the football games because I am a huge fan and I’m glad the whole situation with Covid still allowed us to enjoy the games.

Teachers: How do you think the school did upholding the students’ and staff’s safety? How did this affect your school year?

 Mrs. Houvouras- I think that the school did as much as they could to create a safe environment. Mr. Choute, the custodian on my hall, comes in during lunch and after school to spray and wipe down tables. Admin has been very supportive of the mask mandate and has enforced consequences for those who may have tried to shirk the rule.

Mrs. Hobbins- I think at the beginning of the year the school did well to uphold student and staff safety. Everyone is required to wear masks, they were cleaning the classrooms multiple times a day, classes sizes were small enough that students in class could be spread apart. But as the year has gone on, students have not stuck to the masks as well, there is not as much cleaning of the classrooms and classes are becoming stuffed with students. I have some classes that I would consider on the big size even for a normal year, let alone now. I think though, that these precautions have been detrimental to student learning.

Students: How do you think the school did upholding the students’ and staff’s safety? How did this affect your school year?

Alyssa Ramos (Junior)-  I feel like the school did the best they could with keeping the faculty and students safe under the circumstances of how many people would be on the campus. It didn’t affect my school year much other than the mask mandate but that was out of anyone’s control.

Devin Leath (Senior)- I believe that they did a great job at enforcing the mask and social distancing rules, but this caused students to feel separated from others and it made school not as enjoyable.

Trent (Sophomore)- I think the school did a good job with giving the students the choice of online or face to face for their own safety and even the parents own safety.  Also this affected my school year in a very weird way because of the influence it has on teachers to also be paying attention to the online people while teaching.

Brooke Bush (Senior)- I think the school did an amazing job. This year has been a shock to them as well and it is all new to us, but they did they best they could. The school took necessary precautions to make sure that their students remained safe and healthy while in their care. It affected my school year because theirs was a slight change to rules, but the school tried to make everything as normal as possible. 

Teachers: What tips have you learned to make teaching blended classes easier over this school year?

Mrs. Houvouras- Blended classes have never felt easy, even now at the end of the school year. However, I’ve learned to navigate Big Blue Button, and I’ve become the breakout room queen! Canvas is not a seamless platform and doing anything requires a crazy number of clicks. 

Mrs. Hobbins- I honestly think teaching blended has actually gotten harder has the year has gone on. Everyone seems to be burnt out which makes it hard to keep myself and my students motivated.

Students: What was the most challenging thing you had to overcome this school year?

Alyssa Ramos (Junior)- The most challenging thing I had to overcome this school year was definitely virtual learning. I was at home for the first quarter and wasn’t able to focus or retain information so I had to switch to F2F and once I did that my grades started to improve.

Devin Leath (Senior)- Playing the rest of the season after our Coach Earl Graham had passed away.

Trent (Sophomore)– One challenging thing that I had to overcome this year is probably when I had to change to a new teacher at the beginning of the year from online to face to face.

Brooke Bush (Senior)– Well I feel that the most challenging thing I had to overcome was to come to the realization that I will not have a normal senior year. I have waited many years to experience my senior year and I was unfortunately not able to have the opportunity of doing that. It was really hard at first to know that all of the activities I wished to do as a senior would not occur. 

Teachers: What would you like to see change next school year to improve the school overall?

Mrs. Houvouras- While I understand the need for LaunchEd this year, my hope is that with the vaccine rollout, students will be able to return face to face. Students who still don’t feel comfortable coming on campus have FLVS and OCVS as options. Continuing to teach hybrid classes is simply untenable for most teachers. Our jobs were already all consuming. This year the workload doubled. I don’t think our mental and physical health could survive another year of hybrid.

Mrs. Hobbins- I would like to see either no launchED or no blended classes. So for example me as a teacher may have just 1 period that is just LaunchED and it is not spread out through the whole day. This would allow me as a teacher to focus on way learning mode and not split my attention and I think learning for everyone would increase.

Students: What one word would describe this school year?

Alyssa Ramos (Junior)- One word I would use to describe this school year would be unexpected. I think that one’s pretty self explanatory.

Devin Leath (Senior)- Hectic.

Trent (Sophomore)- One word that I would describe this school year is most definitely “different.”

Brooke Bush (Senior)- One word I would choose would definitely be growth to describe this school year because the whole pandemic has changed people for the better for the most part. I feel that it may has even helped students be able to discover new hobbies and not take life for granted.

Teachers: How do you believe the students did in terms of learning either online and face to face? Do you believe one method helped students retain information better?

Mrs. Houvouras- I have no control over the amount of distractions that students have at home, so I definitely think that many Launch Ed students may have had additional obstacles to overcome. I made sure to treat my face to face students and Launch Ed students the same–I always blend breakout rooms and I never do any activities that could not be done by Launch Ed students. Regardless, if a student at home has family distractions or focus issues, I can’t eliminate those for them.

Mrs. Hobbins- I think that this is very dependent on each student. On average I think those students who are in class learned more, but there are a select few students that did better online than they would have in person because they are less distracted or they are able to be a different person. For example I have one particular student that I am thinking of, that I know to be a very quiet student, but when they are online, they love to chat to lots of other people and has really opened up and it has been good for them. So maybe having the option for some students to be online next year at a limited capacity could be good, but most students really need to be in person, in class to really learn.

Students: What is something you accomplished that you are proud of?

Alyssa Ramos (Junior)- Something that I accomplished that I’m proud of is simple yet important, and that was being able to keep up with and understand my work, get good grades, and get into the Dual Enrollment program at Valencia.

Devin Leath (Senior)-Proud of myself  for getting through this school year while being LaunchEd and maintain good grades.

Trent (Sophomore)- Something that I accomplished this year is that I was able to keep straight A’s all year long so far and it is something I didn’t think I was going to be able to do with school being like how it is. 

Brooke Bush (Senior)- Even though this year was not what I expected I still accomplished many things. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to 10 universities. This really brought joy to me and helped me realized that all of my hard work throughout these years really paid off.