Online Learning: Students on Making New Friends

A.J. Wang, Staff Writer

Staring off the year virtual? Fear not! There’s no debate that FCPS’ shift to online learning was a culture shock to the entirety of the Woodson population. But it proved to be an even greater shock to freshman and transfer students joining us this year. Although freshmen have the advantage of knowing some classmates from middle school, new students are entering Woodson and attending classes without knowing a single name.

“Maybe if students in our groups gave out their contact info,” said senior Isseye Carriker, who is new to Woodson, “or if we could personalize online profiles, people would be encouraged to want to know about one another.” 

Cartoon by Ariana Tackett

We can’t forget about the infamous cameras in virtual learning. 

“Keeping your camera on for a while can be uncomfortable for most,” said freshman Ethan Lan. It does however call for a more welcoming learning environment.

 “I keep my camera on so others can see how I’m feeling,” senior Mason Danger said. “It encourages others to turn theirs on…If you don’t have your camera on you might as well not be in the classroom.”

Photo courtesy of Reagan Dempster

Touching bases on social interaction, ever wonder how online/homeschool students were able to maintain that with others even before Covid? Students at the Northstar Academy, a nationally accredited online high school, have access to a Student Café.

“The Student Café fosters a sense of community,” said Scott Berggren, the Dean of Northstar Academy. “It helps humanize the goals and challenges of students despite being dispersed geographically.”

Thanks to the help of student and teacher sponsors, Woodson’s holding of online club meetings hits the spot as well as Northstar does. “I think clubs are an excellent way for new students to get out of their comfort zone,” said Lan. 

And for those who crave more in-person activities, Woodson sports are finally cleared for Yellow Days which allow athletes to practice together and condition as a team with appropriate physical distancing.

“Interacting with others in person for practice is much better than online,” said freshman Ray Koerner, who is part of the freshman football team. “I was able to meet some new people and bond with them through the sport.”