Two months ago today, schools throughout Bucks County closed for two weeks due to coronavirus. But two weeks has turned into closures through the end of the school year, and students have become familiar with an entirely new education experience.
Priya Deliwala, a Pennsbury High School senior, will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. She is pursuing a computer science major but is considering a dual degree in psychology.
Virtual learning will define the final weeks of her high school experience. Without a physical classroom, everything is different.
While Deliwala does not mind online school, she says it misses the “most vital aspect.” Engaging with teachers and other students directly is at the core of learning.
And while grades and extracurricular activities are what colleges look for in a student, the social experience at school is arguably just as important.
Proms are cancelled. Graduations are virtual or postponed to mid-July. But Deliwala believes the biggest loss is the missed opportunity to say goodbye to teachers and friends.
“My favorite experiences from senior year were ironically the ones we didn’t realize we would cherish so much: class parties at lunch, walking the path with friends, football games, etc.”
Instead of going to India with her family this summer as they had planned, Deliwala will be staying home. Even her internship with a non-profit this summer will be virtual.
Another student’s overall plans have not changed much. Sam Ruta is still planning to head for Cadet Basic Training at West Point to study Law and Legal Studies. He leaves for “Beast,” the unofficial name for the six week period, on June 28.
Ruta is also a Pensbury High School senior. The timing means he will miss his high school graduation, which is currently set for July 22.
Like Deliwala, he will be finishing his classes online. But Ruta is much less forgiving of the virtual experience.
“There is no comparison- classroom setting wins,” said Ruta. “Virtual learning is more teach yourself about the concepts. The teachers are to support the students but the actual interaction with teachers and peers is more effective for me.”
As for life outside the virtual classroom, Ruta also lamented the cancellation of sports. He misses practicing with the baseball team and being able to see his friends.
“I grew up playing with and against kids from other schools and looked forward to playing them this season. It would have been great to play against Dalton Turner from Neshaminy, Matt Roda from Council Rock North, and Evan Profy from Truman. This would have been a good season.”