Spotlight on Online Learning: BCCHS Senior Andrew Santacruz


BCCHS senior Andrew Santacruz

Reign Cruz, Front Page/News Editor

          This month’s student feature is Andrew Santacruz, a senior at Birmingham Community Charter High School. Andrew was chosen because he wanted to voice out his opinion on virtual learning and that he hasn’t experienced anything like it before.

He wanted to see if his experience might be relatable to some of the students at Birmingham as well. Being a senior means it’s our last year at Birmingham and that also means graduation is upon us. Andrew’s favorite subject is math, but online learning can make him lose track of time when he’s writing numbers on his papers or when he’s punching buttons into his calculator.

Andrew’s goal for senior year is to keep up his grades and finish applications for college on time. His objectives for this year are to try to understand more about the new online learning environment and try to enjoy his senior year; even if it is all online.

He puts a lot of effort into all of his subjects, but it can be difficult at home since he has to help his family and do school work. It’s been a rocky road for him when it came to keeping his grades up due to the difference in learning and his past issues with his classes. His main focus is to keep straight A’s and keep his future goals in check. If he ever felt like giving up, he thought about his future, and why he needs to go to college, to keep himself motivated.

At first, online learning was hectic for Andrew and many students can relate to that. The Zoom classes weren’t easy to manage, and learning online was difficult for him to understand. Andrew struggled with learning and talking to other people online, as it was very different than a classroom environment.

Talking to other students was especially difficult since many students don’t want to socialize. For example, when in a breakout room, Andrew talks first, so it won’t be so quiet and so they can all get their work done. If he didn’t understand the topic, he would also talk to the teacher.

As a senior, he was very excited to enjoy the senior events that were coming up, but sadly, the school had to cancel them due to the pandemic. Being physically in school was the best way for him to learn about any subject, but online learning was a completely different structure and much harder than it used to be. The meetings were now mandatory and the hardest part for him was trying to get on the computer on time in the morning. There are even times where he would accidentally sleep in until the second period or the middle of the first period.

Andrew struggles with getting his work done on time. He used to do most of his work at school before he got home to have less homework, but even that is a struggle nowadays. When online school started, a lot of his assignments started to pile up, and he didn’t have time to do all of them when they were due. He would resort to finishing them last minute, which was frustrating.

Working in a classroom environment is his preference, though. This is simply because he wants to learn with the teacher present so that he can ask questions if he has a problem or a question. He prefers the way school was before, so he wouldn’t be so stressed over his assignments and be able to learn and communicate with his peers. But it isn’t all bad, as Andrew stated that online learning has made some things easier and that he likes the way the school tries to keep the situation as normal as possible–even if the videoconferencing meeting kicks you out due to bad internet. 

Online learning does have it’s quirks. Many people favor online learning more than they did back at school in order to avoid social interactions. Andrew’s favorite part of virtual learning is going over the assignments and getting the work done. Andrew found it satisfying when he went over assignments and finished his work. It saves him a lot of time and he learns a lot when he reviews it with his teacher, but that doesn’t always happen. 

As a senior, this year is the time to start preparing for the future. Those who were selected to be in the senior seminar were placed in a class to help them complete the college and financial application process. Senior seminar has helped Andrew a lot with his college applications and the counselors were there if he needed any help or review with any of his applications. He said that “without senior seminar, I wouldn’t even know the first thing to put into a college application.” Andrew found that learning through college apps was evidently a lot easier than what it might have been learning through school. He felt like if he did the college work at school, it would have been a lot different than it was online. It felt easy, thanks to his college counselor. 

This senior year has definitely been a lot more stressful and different than what we had expected. Keeping up our grades in school is already a struggle, and when you add your at-home problems, it makes things even more difficult. But at the end of the day, it’s just like being at school.

As a virtual learner, Andrew hopes to learn how to sign applications on a computer with the guidance of his counselor; he also wants his teachers to know more about the electronics they use during online learning–at least until we’re back in the classrooms. A lot of teachers still don’t know how to fully work a computer or set up an online call when it comes to learning and it can take away a lot of time when there are issues. It’s been a rough journey, but Andrew is very proud of his hard work.