Day In the Life of a Blended Learner
Reading Time: 4 minutes
After over a year of remote learning at home, it was great to hear that Stuyvesant would be allowing students back into the building to continue with blended learning. I had previously done blended learning in the fall, so I knew what to expect, but since that was way back in November 2020, I was very excited to get back into the routine.
When I tell people that I’m doing blended learning, often their first reaction is an incredulous “Why?!” They wonder, “What’s the point of going into school to do the same exact classes that you could be doing from the comfort of your own home? What’s the point of waking up two hours earlier?”
For these people, I have answers. I miss Manhattan. I miss the nostalgic train rides, the smell of halal carts, and the terrific view of the Hudson River. I tend to get distracted and unmotivated during class if I’m at home, but being at Stuyvesant helps me feel like I’m in an actual school setting and can do my work efficiently. I love seeing the few friends that are also inside the building with me, as well as other students I recognize from my time around the building. Additionally, I’m on Stuyvesant’s track team, and I’ve gotten bored with running loops around the same park at home—I’ve always loved running by the Hudson River and down to Chelsea Piers.
On a blended learning day, I wake up at 7:00 a.m., eat a quick breakfast, chill on my phone for a little bit, and get ready for school. It feels similar to what I did pre-pandemic (though I do get an extra hour of sleep). It’s exciting to pick out an outfit to wear, since normally I would just be slumped at home wearing baggy sweats.
Upon entering the school, I come head-to-head with the temperature checker machine, which often says that my temperature is too low, so they either just let me pass or take the temperature on my wrist, which is more accurate. I complete the daily health screening which clears me to enter the building.
Walking down the hallway to the 2-3 escalator (which is actually working, though the 2-4 is still completely blocked off), the halls feel a little strange–there’s never anybody nearby. The senior bar, once completely crowded with students, stands untouched in front of the empty lockers. As I ride the escalator I can’t help but feel an afterschool vibe, reminiscent of when my teammates and I would stay late to practice in an abandoned building.
I head toward the third floor gym. The walk down the hallway is very nostalgic because my old locker is right in front of the gymnastics room, still stocked with folders and food that’s probably expired by now. I have opened my locker before but haven’t taken anything home yet (which I really should get to sometime). I enter the gym, which looks smaller than it did before, filled with desks neatly arranged in rows all spaced out six feet apart. I check my name off the sign-in sheet at the front of the gym and sign my name on the lunch form, requesting a chicken wrap prepared by the cafeteria. My seat is D-37, which faces the gymnastics room. Sometimes I’ll switch seats, though, if I have to charge my laptop. I’m usually one of the first students to arrive, since my classes start at 9:10, but I always enjoy watching other students walk in, recognizing their faces behind their masks, waving to some as they pass by.
From here on out, my experience at school is similar to what most students experience at home, but it feels vastly different at the same time. I don’t have to become uncomfortably aware of my parents and brother constantly walking around in the background of my computer camera while I’m in class. I don’t have to take notes while listening to my mom on her work calls and my noisy neighbors taking their young children outside while I’m stuck in my small bedroom. At school, I can take breaks in between classes and walk around, reminiscing about all the fun memories of these familiar hallways and classrooms. (Oh, and there’s no line for the bathroom anymore!) Mr. Moran even comes into the gym frequently and asks if any student wants to take a walk outside with him. During my free periods I usually try to complete some homework early, but sometimes I want to enjoy myself and will partake in a game of ping pong, chess, or cornhole, which are all set up outside of the gym for student use. Sometimes I also just want to stay in my chair and relax, so I might watch some YouTube or a show, which is a pleasant distraction because I’ve rarely done that in a school setting before. There’s just a different and exciting air to watching “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” in the school building.
What I do after school varies, but the one thing I never do is go directly home. I can’t resist the feeling of being within Stuy’s walls. I always took that for granted and, yeah, this sounds corny, but it really is a magical place. Sometimes after school I stay to do homework before the adults kick us out at 3:30. Sometimes I run with my friend Talia, and sometimes I stay at school to play chess.
And that’s my blended school day for the most part. It may sound boring or pointless, but after spending a year cooped up at home it’s great to be able to walk outside and get a routine going. Unfortunately, I’m a senior, so I won’t be able to go back to Stuyvesant when things are “normal” again. It is for this reason that I want to absorb as much of the school as I can before I head off to college. As of now, the window for opting back into blended learning has closed, but that’s not to say there won’t be another opportunity to opt back in later in the year. Let’s pray that by staying safe and getting vaccinated we’ll all be able to return to the building soon, even if it isn’t this school year. And if you are physically at school, maybe I’ll see you around!