MHS handling of distance learning…according to students


Photo by @sharonmccutcheon on Unsplash

Ty Kalestiantz and Andrew Acevedo

Between a global pandemic that’s led schools nationwide to transfer to distance learning and a historic election, as well as all the personal struggles that can come with quarantining, there is no denying that the 2020-2021 school year has been difficult for both students and staff. Where does Mountainside high school and the Beaverton school district stand in this? 

84 students were surveyed on their personal experience and a number of feelings were expressed on how distance learning has been handled at Mountainside and there were a variety of reactions. The words most commonly used to describe this year were different, lonely, difficult and interesting. An anonymous 10th grader described the year as, “a year like no other. So far, this school year has been more stressful than usual, and more isolating. It has been difficult to be stripped of normal social interaction through classes, something I never thought I’d actually miss.” 

Many students criticized choices made by the school and district. Senior Sarah Alnimer commented, “Our schools had managed this situation poorly, and it seems like we don’t have a choice but to endure it. They have never asked for our input, they just put up school weekly challenges as if it’s going to get us into college.” 

A common point of distaste was around the 4×4 schedule. In the words of an anonymous 12th grader, “The 4×4 schedule is just really not suited for the IB curriculum at all (or most curriculums, honestly), and the faculty is left struggling to pick up the pieces.”

Despite the oddity of the 2020-2021 school year, it does seem that there was a silver lining, 98.8% of students agreed with the statement that some or all of their teachers had done as much as they could to make the year go smoothly. 

An anonymous 9th grader said that she’d tell students of another school, “I am not sure about the way Mountainside has been handling distance learning, but I can say that my teachers have been wonderful and so understanding about the situation.” 10th grader, Winston Liang said, “Mountainside teachers always put as much effort as they can into what they do. … I’d like to thank all my teachers for trying their best!”

By the end of semester one, we’ve endured a pandemic, watched the West Coast burn, and seen the US Capitol building violently stormed. All of this on top of the loneliness that comes from being in quarantine and doing school online and the massive increase in food and housing insecurity. 

As high school students, we’re expected to use these four years to grow into ourselves and while these circumstances may have had poor effects on mental and physical wellbeing for most of us, it’s been an important lesson in unity and supporting each other. Teachers know that for some students, their classes will be the only social interaction they get outside of family members and they’re largely in the same position. 

Has the Beaverton School District and Mountainside been able to accommodate the learning needs of all students? Maybe not, but the MHS community has supported each other in every way we could.