Emilie Springer: Meet Two Graduating Seniors
The 20-21 school year is winding down and today I’m talking with seniors Zoe Stonorov and Aiyana Cline about what the school year has been like and what their plans are after high school graduation, coming up on May 18th. This year graduation will take place outdoors in the track area and students will have a set number of tickets to provide to family and friends.
The girls introduce themselves and talk about some of the things they’ve participated in over the past four years. “Throughout my four years of high school, I've been involved in the Homer high school student council. The Homer high school ski team and the Homer high school lady Mariner soccer team,” Stonorov says. Cline says: student council, skiing and soccer and “I’ve also been a big part of the Nutcracker and dance community.”
“The Nutcracker was very different, it was much smaller, and we had masks, but we still had the costumes and it was nice that we were able to still do something. It was filmed and put on the internet, not a live performance,” Cline said.
We talk about the sporting events and how in skiing the races were structured so athletes could start individually instead of a group start. Soccer hasn’t been too different except that the team hasn’t been on any overnight trips, all meets were in the Kenai Peninsula. Stonorov says, “people are still welcome to watch it. Just a mask is required and social distancing, but I feel like things have been pretty normal this soccer season. Soccer continues two weeks past the end of the school year so we’ll have a little more time in that,” Stonorov says.
We talk about what’s next for the summer and into the fall. Zoe is going commercial fishing with her family in Prince William Sound and Aiyana got a job at one of the local coffee shops in town. “I'm planning on staying here before I go to college to spend a lot of time with all my friends and my family. My grandfather is almost 93 and he’s in Homer,” Aiyana said.
After the summer, Stonorov will head to Bowden college in Brunswick, Maine. “I'm super excited about it. It's going to be a big change for me, but I'm excited,” she said. “I am planning Santa Clara University.” Cline said. Santa Clara is a private university in the Silicon Valley near Stanford and San Francisco. Cline said she was looking for schools with good foreign exchange programs and dance. Stonorov applied to a lot of liberal arts colleges “like Middlebury, Reed and Willamette. Places on both the east coast and west coast.”
I ask the students if the Universities communicated any physical or structural transitions in how class time might be operating in regard to COVID distancing and electronic course time. Stonrov said, “they talked about how things were very different this year, but then, how they were hoping next year it would kind of be more normal. At Bowden, they have a big orientation, field trips that they go on and they say they're hoping to do more of that again.” “I went to tour a couple of colleges earlier in March. And most of them, did have some version of online courses but students are still there, on campus,” she said, “it sounds like most schools are planning to go back to how they were, with masks and stuff, but still in-person classes, which is really exciting,” she said hopefully.
Aiyana and I talk about the implications of mask wearing in the dance department. It’s not as easy to dance in a mask as it is to sit in a classroom, and it has implications for presentation—for both performers and audience. Cline says, “I hope dance classes are somewhat normal and not completely different.”
Both Bowdin and Santa Clara require COVID vaccination for students coming to campus in the 2021 fall semester. Other Homer senior students are headed all over the country: Utah, Colorado, several to Hawaii, some to Fairbanks. COVID vaccination requirements do vary dramatically at institutions across the country. In some cases, there are state mandated requirements to allow students access to higher education institutions without a COVID vaccination. Once I started a search into the various vaccination requirement scenarios at institutions, I got sidetracked by public and private institutions and where in the country schools are located on the political spectrum. Back to the seniors and their final Homer High School days.
The girls finish up the conversation by talking about how things have changed with so much electronic equipment in use. Screen time and inconsistency: “it's drastically changed how everything is structured. We got a new schedule and switched from online to in-person to online, to in-person. The switch back and forth has been super weird,” Cline says. Stonorov mentions the challenge of concurrent remote and in-person students: “In my classes, there are probably three or four people that zoom in every day. And it's still kind of weird, the dynamic between the two. The teachers have to put everything online and also have it in person.” “We haven’t had a lot of paperwork. So even though you're in person, you're looking at your computer a lot of the time. It seems super weird write with a pencil on paper, everything is typed,” Storov says.
We talk about the role of electronics with timing homework assignments and integrity of on-line testing when internet searching is unregulated. One girl points out, “if you forget to do something, there's always the option of doing it an hour later on your computer at home. You can turn an assignment in online and not have to be there in person.” The other says, “the teachers have to adjust submission for assignments, so timing is more relaxed. You can look up anything and tests are online. It definitely has changed tests. It's not really fair to offer a test in class when half the class is at home.”
To adjust for that? It sounds like personal integrity, “if you look something up it's to your detriment,” Stonorov says, “it’s to your disadvantage to not actually learn the material. You have to be really honest.”
Looking Forward, Cline says, “I'm most excited about having new teachers, being in a whole new environment and taking classes that not necessarily are offered here.” Stonorov says, “trying something new that like, no one I know has ever done. It's really cool for me. And meeting a bunch of new people. I've grown up in Homer and I've known most of the kids in my class since I was five years old.”
As for fields of study, to begin with, both girls are just going to explore the options available.