Faces of 2020: Marlee Gilman, Virtual Senior’s First Week

Claire Bamdas, Staff Writer

On a brisk September morning, just as the sun emerged from the thick dawn haze, hundreds of students at Wayne Valley High School were getting in buses and cars to go to school. As those students pulled into the parking lot, senior Marlee Gilman was just opening her eyes. Why?  The school system runs on a hybrid learning system, which means that students alternate between virtual and in-person schooling. Unlike many, Gilman has made the decision to opt out of in-person schooling all together and strictly learn virtually. As her classmates dance through the halls, she groggily opens her laptop, seeing all her peers through a pixelated screen.

Gilman isn’t the only student who decided to learn through a screen, however, she is in the rare group that made the decision themselves. “I made the decision to do all online schooling all on my own,” said Gilman affirmatively. “My parents didn’t really care what I did, so I took it upon myself to choose the option I felt was the safest. I know the school has taken many safety precautions, but I still don’t want to take any chances and possibly get the virus.”

Of course, like everything in life, virtual schooling also has its flaws. Many students’ main complaint is that they find a certain disconnect between themselves and their peers. Like those students, Gilman also has a hard time feeling close to and included with her classmates. “Yeah waking up late is cool, but I really do miss bonding and socializing with my classmates. Sometimes, I honestly feel like I’m missing out, but at least I’m still safe from the virus.”

Many parents chose the virtual school option for safety reasons, but quite a few of them have asked the same question: Are my children going to learn efficiently?. “I feel like I learn the same as I did going to regular school,” adds Gilman. “It almost feels as if we are in the classroom since my teachers are also teaching the in-person students at the same time.”

Although virtual school has its hardships, Marlee Gilman “would not want it any other way,” she says with a grin. “Overall, I’m happy with my decision. I get to wake up late and not risk getting sick, which is all I really care about at the end of the day!”