Blackhawk perspectives after a year into distance learning

On Dec. 31, 2019, the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Wuhan, China. A few weeks later, a Washington state man was identified as the first COVID-19 death in the United States.  

Soon after, the country had only begun to see the effects after shelter-in-place orders. 

Coachella Valley residents began transitioning from doing simple things such as being able to go to the grocery store, attending school, strolling around the mall, sitting inside a restaurant to enjoy a meal, and going everywhere with a mask. 

The impact has affected people differently—negatively and positively—particularly with social distancing. 

Isolation caused students to stay home and not be able to see any friends or family members. 

Staying home from school also had an impact on students who were once used to going to school Monday through Friday. Some students reported that their grades were slipping because of distractions or self-proclaimed bouts of laziness. 

When everything is a distraction

Jazmine Terran ‘24, a freshman at La Quinta High School, felt a loss of motivation and found herself easily distracted.

“My phone is a distraction, my animals are a distraction, my hamster is a distraction,” she said. “Everything’s a distraction.” 

Photo courtesy of Jazmine Terran; Design by Zoey Batres

She found that she lost her motivation at home, where she was tempted to watch TV instead of attending her online classes. 

“The teachers aren’t going to know,” Terran said.

She said that because of distance learning, she has seen her grades both rise and fall through the school year. 

Her greatest academic decline has been in math class. “But I’ve always sucked at math,” she said, ”So that’s really normal.” Photography, on the other hand, has been easy—particularly because of the teacher’s fun presence.

A mother’s preference and perspective

Parents also have different perspectives of their students attending distance learning. 

Martha Hernandez is a 38-year-old mother of three: her eldest son graduated from Indio High School in 2020, while her other two daughters are currently attending Indio High and La Quinta High schools. 

Zoey Batres

When given the choice, Hernandez prefers her children staying in distance learning as opposed to the in-person hybrid learning model.

“I honestly prefer virtual learning because even when you’re in school and even though you have a face covering the mask, you could still get contaminated,” she said. “I believe, no matter what, if you have a mask on and you’re wearing it properly, even though you’re washing your hands, I think you could still get contaminated.”

Succeeding as a distance learner

Alex Luna ‘24 has found academic success in the distance learning model, achieving outstanding grades this school year. As a ninth-grader, she has stayed on top of her game and has found the motivation to continue to move forward and work hard. 

“I give myself little breaks in between so I don’t stress myself out really quickly when I’m doing work,” she said, adding that she takes a quick break, eats a snack, relaxes for a bit so that she can approach her work with a fresh mindset. 

“To get myself in my prepared mindset and where I try my hardest before, I start to focus on my breathing. I play hype music to get me excited to start the next thing or I listen to relaxing music to relax myself. For me, I choose music because it has always had a story behind it no matter what language it’s in,” said Luna. 

Her biggest motivation is supplied by parents telling her to “do really well in school so that way she can get a good job.” 

And while her parents motivated her to do well, she does it for herself as well. 

“I’m also just trying to get into a school that I really like as well. Oh, if I don’t get good grades, this semester I won’t be able to do what I want. I just try to keep in mind that my grades are important,” said Luna. 

As of now, Luna is looking forward to going to New York University or the University of California, Los Angeles with the goals of finishing school and being able to provide not only for her future family but her parents as well.

Although she is faced with many challenges on an average day of school from distractions and temptations of going on her phone, falling asleep, or even just zoning out, she focuses and sets her priorities straight.

“Try everything to your limit, even if that means getting a D, but you tried your hardest,” she said. “Then, that doesn’t really matter if you tried your hardest. Your grades shouldn’t really matter, as long as you feel like you did enough for yourself and for the assignment.” 

Photo courtesy of Alex Luna; Design by Zoey Batres

Looking back on “quarantine time” can tell multiple stories about what has been faced and overcome by students—and still in the process of surviving high school in a pandemic. 

For others, this time has been a period to reflect on themselves and reevaluate moments of past and present feelings. It has also brought new beginnings or fresh starts for many. 

“I know some people feel like crying makes them weak, but after a good cry, you have to get yourself together again,” said Luna. “It’s all good and once you get everything out, emotions and like, you know, just clear your head, go for a little walk, drink some water. And just whatever happened happens.”