Returning to the Classroom (Part Two)

Conor Barry works on his truck, in an out of the virtual classroom. Aryanna Miles has been on campus for cheer practices since November and is happy to return to the classroom. Bram Pagliano is comfortable with distance learning, but misses arc welding classes in person.

by Amy Brown

Many students now have the opportunity to return to in-classroom learning, whether nearly full time or in a hybrid configuration. Across the county, hardworking teachers are welcoming their students back, and as one can imagine, it is a huge adjustment—especially for some seniors, who have spent much of the last year working, planning for their futures, and becoming more self-sufficient and autonomous, both in school and out.

Conor Barry, a senior at Buena, would like to try to return to school fully in person, but isn’t sure yet, since he has a job working up to five days a week. He plans to go to Ventura College and then become a diesel mechanic after graduation, and has been meeting remotely with his auto shop teacher, and works on his truck in the meantime. He shared that all of his teachers have really stepped up and bridged the gulf of distance learning. “Being in person for auto shop would be really cool,” says Barry. “I already watch YouTube and figure stuff out on my own, but I want to be with other people with same interests. Barry said he really misses school dances and sports, and ran track as a junior, when Covid ended the season abruptly after just one meet. “I’m really sad that I didn’t have a regular senior year, I was hyped for it,” he said. “I’m going to try going five days a week, and hopefully I like it, but if it’s not practical, I don’t want to change everything I do, including work, just to go to school in person for two months. Of course part of me wants me to do it because it’s my senior year.” He shared that his uncertainty is not fear of getting Covid, but being forced to change his full time work and other commitments he’s made in the past year.

Bram Pagliano is a senior at Vista Real, and as such even before the pandemic was accustomed to having some in-class and some autonomous schoolwork done at home. After graduation, he plans to attend Ventura College, and continue his passion for arc welding, a process in which electromagnetic currents are used to bind metal. He became interested in the demanding career in shop class in 11th grade. “It’s satisfying, it’s fun to do, and as a career, it pays really well,” he said. “When I first started arc welding, it was hard—when the currents heats up to the point where it touches metal, the sparks can be blinding. It was cool when I did it the first time, but it was pretty scary.” He spoke to his early shop teachers about his specific focus–his desire to learn how to get the best integrity in a weld and make it a career.

Some seniors can’t wait to resume normal classes. Aryanna Miles is a senior and on the varsity cheer team at Buena, and after graduation will attend Lu Ross Academy cosmetology school. She’s excited about following her passion and looks forward to her first job as a hair stylist, but for now is thrilled to be back in class in high school. “It was nice being back in class actually, but definitely different; there’s not nearly as many people, and we have much smaller classes,” she said. “But I was so ready, no question about it, to come back.” It was her first year as a cheerleader, and her introduction to the sport was through Zoom practices at first, before the team started practicing in person in November. “During the past three years (pre-pandemic) I was in the stands watching them cheer, and the team was amazing, the girls looked so confident and close and it looked so fun. I remember thinking, ‘I want that,’ and now I’m there.” She and her teammates did not expect to have any football games at which to cheer this year, and were exhilarated when they heard there would be. “I just thought we’d practice the whole time and not get games,” said Miles. “And now all of sudden everything is starting up at once–I’m back in class, there’s homework, practices and there’s the huge Ventura game coming up. It’s nerve wracking, but so exciting.”

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