MHS Students’ favorite virtual classes

In+one+of+Reschke%27s+Honors+ELA+9+classes%2C+students+collaborated+to+demonstrate+their+gratitude+for+their+teacher%27s+efforts+to+make+learning+fun+during+the+pandemic.+

Photo courtesy of Dan Reschke

In one of Reschke’s Honors ELA 9 classes, students collaborated to demonstrate their gratitude for their teacher’s efforts to make learning fun during the pandemic.

Riley Coesens, Editor in Chief

There isn’t a single person who hasn’t had to adjust in some way to the challenges presented by COVID-19, but one of the most widely impacted groups has been K-12 students, who have been forced into long periods of virtual learning. In Huron Valley, students completed nearly 3 months of virtual learning last year and another 8 weeks of full virtual learning this last marking period, which will continue until January 19th. Despite the accommodations both teachers and students have made and adapted to, the modified classroom setting has been difficult for even the most academically-inclined students.. Through the hardships, however, many students are appreciative of the efforts of their teachers to add creativity and engaging aspects into an otherwise dull version of school, including (but not limited to) playing music, encouraging collaboration through games, breakout rooms, or projects, and facilitating group discussions to increase communication, simulating a classroom environment.  

For freshmen in particular, this has been a bizarre year to enter high school–with just a few days of the school year thus far spent inside MHS itself, combined with minimal opportunities to be involved and lacking overall exposure to what the next four years typically would entail, underclassmen have suffered greatly in the beginning stages of their high school careers. Regardless, one of the most popular freshmen classes offered at Milford is Honors ELA 9, taught by English teacher Daniel Reschke. “My favorite class this semester is Honors ELA with Mr. Reschke because he is very enthusiastic even with online school,” explained Freshman Riley Morgan. “He is very patient with everyone and their tech issues, and he does his best to keep us engaged in class, whether that be a few jokes here and there or an interesting lesson plan.” In Morgan’s 6th hour class, students worked together to show Reschke their appreciation for his understanding and efforts to make virtual learning more enjoyable, showing signs displaying “thank you” messages for him to see over Google Meet. Freshman Victoria Adams also agreed that Reschke’s class was her favorite, as it has helped subdue some of the frustrations of online school: “Mr. Reschke has made the class really enjoyable and fun–I really enjoy reading and ELA overall,” she shared. Regardless, learning over class calls still poses issues for most students: “Virtual school has caused some stress and lack of motivation for me because it is so different than getting up and going to school every day and all it is is opening up a laptop in the morning,” Adams added. 

Sophomore Mila Koivula also recognizes the position that she and fellow sophomores are in this fall; coming off of their first year of high school disrupted during term three, they have minimal experience in the expectations and realities of high school. She has come to appreciate her German class with teacher Rich Kynast because of his organization and empathy, as well as the fun he adds into online school: “Mr. Kynast does an excellent job of teaching us and making it clear what needs to be done,” Koivula said. “Everything is organized and he keeps things easy and lighthearted.” She also mentioned how many teachers have taken on a similar perspective toward engaging with their students this year, as they have come to realize that the most helpful tool in the virtual classroom is patience: “Teachers have helped in virtual because they are just as tired and confused as we are half the time,” Koivula added. “They understand internet struggles and how draining it is to be on a computer all day.” This has helped students like Koivula embrace the virtual experience more willingly and in turn has impacted the experience teachers have as we all indulge in a new form of academic pursuit. 

Seniors have undoubtedly been affected greatly by the lack of in-person school, events, and memorable experiences to share in their last year at MHS. As they prepare for life beyond high school, most recognize their gratitude for the lessons they learned in various classes and the means of success that each inspired along the way. An example of this can be seen through Senior Josh Raya, who values what he has been taught in Leadership. “It shows different ways to talk to people, as well as it teaches you different leadership skills to use at different times,” Raya explained. “This class is special to me and stands out to me because you get to see how you’re taught throughout the day and in sports and see what types of skills certain people have in their leadership qualities.” Senior Emma Dittrick similarly described School Store with teacher David Gilbert as her favorite class because of the engaging means of teaching he has employed, as well as the skill sets and topics he teaches that will be helpful in the future, such as marketing, selling, resumes, and interviewing. “My teachers during this virtual period have helped me to still have hope for the rest of the school year,” Dittrick said. “Many of my teachers are still engaging and wanting to make my last year something to remember.”

One of the most important aspects of maintaining an adequate learning space for students over Google Meet has been increasing the interaction that students may have with one another by encouraging collaboration or discussion. On the same note, also promoting individual work that can be done asynchronously has helped students tremendously to schedule their responsibilities accordingly and work at their own pace. It is for these reasons that Senior Sadie Guffy has enjoyed Newspaper and AP Psychology this school year, despite the courses taking place primarily online. Both classes offer individual and collaborative opportunities and offer a balance that complements the material being taught and the work accompanying it. Additionally, Guffy explained, “These classes both stand out to me because I can tell that the teachers enjoy what they are doing and that they really care about their students.” Most students can agree that when the teacher is more connected with the material and the interests of his/her students, as well as responsive to the needs of each individual, the class will ultimately feel more productive and worthwhile. “[Teachers] assign us to breakout rooms to allow us to chat and collaborate with our classmates, which makes me feel less alone. They also are all very quick to reply to their emails in order to make sure that any question I have is clarified,” Guffy stated. “I am extremely grateful for all of my teachers this year because I can tell that they are all doing their best to make their students happy and less overwhelmed.”

Overall, 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, teachers and students alike. As people have been forced to overcome the difficulties presented through rewiring an entirely new way of learning, they have also discovered a newfound appreciation for the efforts given on both ends and have become more accommodating of others’ ways of handling unprecedented circumstances. Spread kindness and empathy and continue to stay resilient and hopeful, MHS!