To Be or Not To Be Online What is the issue of not having an online learning option?

Story by Anna Hardin

The 2021-2022 school year has brought many changes for Greater Clark County Schools(GCCS). The largest change has been the elimination of the My School Online virtual learning option and the creation of an alternative online option referred to as the Virtual Academy. Unlike last year, parents were required to enroll students in the new online option during the summer break. Also, this year, in-person students are no longer permitted to switch over to the virtual learning option as they were last year with My School Online.

Senior Shay Graziano, aMy School Online student last year who returned to in-person school this year, states “Honestly I switched back to normal school [this year] because I found that I was unmotivated to do work and procrastinated a lot. Literally almost failed my art class because of it. Something about me being at school instead of at home makes me work differently.”

Last year, the online option created many challenges for teachers and students alike. My School Online required teachers to design and teach lessons simultaneously for both in-person students and online only students, and online only students were often required to attend virtual Google Meets to interact with teachers. Although there were some students and families who benefited from My School Onlinelast year because of concerns over COVID-19, some online only students struggled and fell behind in their learning.

Whereas the elimination of My School Online has helped some students who struggled with virtual learning last year return to in-person school, some students who actually did better with virtual learning have been forced to return to in-person school without any available online option. The elimination of My School Online for in-person students has also created some confusion for students who have been quarantined during the school year dueto Covid and forced to work from home without a virtual learning option to connect them to their classes.

Additionally, students who have enrolled in theVirtual Academy option for this school year are not allowed to participate in sports or extracurricular activities unlike students enrolled in My School Online last year. For some students, being able to play sports and participate in extracurricular activities was the primary reason that they chose to return to in-person school. “The reason I’m not going online is because I play volleyball, and if I go online, I can’t do sports anymore,“ says Junior Bella Hall.

The return to in-person school has been a shock to many students who spent last year online only. For many returning students, the hallways have never seemed so jammed packed with people and it’s been hard to adjust. “The hardest thing about being back at school is probably the fact that you are around so many different people at once and our school does not have the capacity to distance everyone. It is not their fault, but you never know who is sick and who isn’t until it’s too late and you’re already exposed,” says Hall.

After a year off the field, the Jeff High Baseball Team is Ready for Success

The Baseball team departs the field in their game against Floyd Central. Photo Credit – Claire Smith

Sliding into the season on a new field, the Jeffersonville High School Baseball team has been working hard to make up for what they’ve missed. Going through the challenges of this year, the team has been able to build a family-like connection.

After the season was cancelled last year, the team worked hard and looked forward to this season. Alex Kelley, a Junior on the Varsity Team says,  “Baseball has brought together a brother-like bond that we can turn to keep our minds off the virus and the crazy things going on in today’s world. Baseball has been something I love and can always turn to when things go south and I think that goes for a lot of the guys on the team.” For most members of the team, baseball is really something that keeps them motivated not just on the field but in school as well. Kyle Campbell, a freshman on the JV Team says, “Baseball has helped me by keeping me focused on school work, which helps with baseball, because bad grades equals no baseball.” 

The team has worked hard to improve every time they play. Since COVID-19 spiked last year at the start of baseball season, they lost some teammates. Kannon Stull, another Junior on the Varsity Team says, “Not being able to play was a hit for younger players with little experience on Varsity. Although the sense of having so little experience has given us a sense of being the Underdogs and that really allows us to be calm and play our style of game.” Despite the challenges, this season allowed the team to experiment with new techniques and work even harder. Kelley says, “This season feels like it means more. We didn’t have a season last year and we never know what is going to happen for next season so it really made us play every game like it will be our last because it very well could be.” The time and effort has really paid off.

The new field also provides new opportunities. With easier maintenance and space to control fielding, the new field was a huge benefit. Campbell says, “It’s amazing that we get to play on the turf field. With the turf it helps infielders be able to read the ball better and we don’t have to worry about bad hops. Also when it rains on game days there’s a better chance it won’t get canceled.” Having this field made the team even more appreciative of the work put in.

The team will begin their post season on May 29, 2021, in the Semi-Final of the Floyd Central Sectional.

Welcoming Another Creative Mind:Mr. Ridings

After teaching at Parkview Middle School, Corey Ridings adds a new element to Jeffersonville High School’s art program.

Transitioning from a comfort zone can be a challenge, especially if it was for a long period of time. For Corey Ridings, former art teacher at Parkview Middle School, coming to Jeff High this year has been a new but good adjustment. After teaching at Parkview for 18 years, he decided to take the opportunity for a new change. As Mr. Ridings has said, “ So far, so good.” Boosting creativity around Jeff High might just be what we need.

Art teacher Corey Ridings
Hyphen Staff Photo

Mr. Ridings had always wanted to coach Varsity basketball. He had played basketball growing up, and it was always something he planned to do. To be a coach of any sport you have to have a teaching license. This is what led him to art. He enjoyed coaching, but he wasn’t committed like he should have been. “Gradually, about halfway through my teaching career … I started to be more passionate about art and in the process less about coaching.” At this point he knew that his initial future plan had changed direction.

His transition from teaching middle school students and then coming to Jeff High had been somewhat of an easy one. His reasons were, “I wanted to see what it was like to work with kids at a higher level,” says Ridings. “I needed a change,” he added.

He also enjoys working with students who have varying degrees of passion about art. “In middle school you’ve got a lot of kids that get art no matter what, and you still get that here a little bit. You have students who fall under the category of them getting art, and then you have the students who have no art background, and have to figure out a way to connect with them.”

He also works with students who are more experienced. “When you get into painting and drawing in upper level classes, you generally are going to get students who are passionate about art.” There is a constant flow of creativity. The colors draw people in, and captivate them. When there is time put into something, and there is passion, it can create something of meaning. “I try to teach them things so that if they see me in 20 years, something I said meant something to them.”

Regardless of what level students are at, Ridings says his priority is “quality over quantity.” . He explains, “My philosophy on teaching, especially with art, is it’s not just about getting something done, turning it in and getting a grade. It’s about mastering what the content is we are working on.” This gives the students the opportunity to work on something until that skill is mastered. This takes time and dedication, especially if it’s something you enjoy. You aren’t tested on your ability to do something, it’s more of the progression of your work and if there is improvement.

Ridings also looks for opportunities to boost creativity. In the past, he used meditation at the beginning of class to open the students’ minds and really boost that creative side of the brain. He hasn’t really seen an opening where that is needed for his high school students, so he’s not quite sure if he’ll bring that back. With the pandemic going on, he has focused more on how to communicate with students online and the way that each student approaches their art. All different, but all beautifully put together.

Story by Anna Hardin