Following the transition to Plan A in the Henderson County Public School system, some West Henderson students have chosen to remain fully virtual. In acts of selflessness and love for their families, these students were forced to fight for their education and social well-being over the course of the school year, all from the small computer in their bedroom.

One student in particular, junior Colena Bolio, was in the midst of transitioning schools when COVID-19 hit. Now a fully virtual student at WHHS, Bolio recited her struggles and triumphs while taking on virtual learning.

“Starting off virtual learning is a big adaptation for all students so finding different ways to substitute the dopamine that was being given from the students at school was definitely a challenge, Bolio said. “Another challenge would be the decreased individual help given to students online than in the classroom. Personally if I’m not well acquainted with the class it feels harder to speak up online as well.”

Bolio’s decision to stay virtual while transferring schools was heavily influenced by a family member’s health concerns during the pandemic.

“My decision to stay fully virtual was made based on the people at risk in the family, Bolio stated. “With a brother on immune suppressants and a grandmother being more vulnerable in our community, our family agreed it wasn’t worth taking the risk to go in person.”

Transferring schools is often a difficult process for any student in a normal year. Virtual school has only worsened this transition for students like Bolio.

“The virtual schooling definitely had an impact on the transition to West from another school. It has been harder to connect with different students and teachers in the community,” Bolio said. “I have found that the community of Hendersonville is very understanding and flexible with various students. It has been easier to connect with students in year long classes. The main impact is just time, and how it takes longer to grasp the different elements associated with schooling. It always comes, but it takes more time and work in asserting yourself.”

On the other hand, however, Bolio has experienced some positives through online learning.

“Some positive outcomes that came out of virtual learning included the growth in mindfulness and reflection. Without the normal amount of social interaction many students can develop situational anxiety. It was important to learn what is best personally for my mind and body whether it was something simple like finding a workout to do everyday to boost endorphins. Even just getting a good amount of sleep and eating well makes a world of a difference,” Bolio said. “Virtual learning also has made me feel more connected to the students around me that are also virtual by finding comfort in the fact that we all go through the same situations together.”

Combined, these positives and negatives have truly shaped many students into who they are today. Living through a global pandemic and navigating the challenges that come along with it, like fully virtual learning, have had a stark impact on the students of West Henderson.

“The experience of the pandemic has helped me grow as a student and a person. I’ve learned the importance of both physical and mental health and also the fact that they are very connected to one another.” Bolio said. “With the pandemic, it’s a battle between parents on choosing their children’s mental health by bringing them back into school or physical by keeping them at home. We have understanding of the fact that the viewpoints on the pandemic in general are diverse. It is important to stay patient if the views may not align with your own. Even if the experience in the present of each moment may have been rough; I’m very glad that we all could learn and grow, as a result.”

By: Marissa Detwiler, Feature Writer

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