Schooling at the Stroup’s

With six children, the Stroup family shows how virtual learning works at different grade levels.

Second+grader+Willa+Stroup+doing+her+daily+school+work+outdoors

Maren Stroup

Second grader Willa Stroup doing her daily school work outdoors

Maren Stroup, Sentry Staff Reporter

In this unknown and different time, schools all over the world are handling closures in a variety of ways. Here in Arlington, online school completely differs between grades. In my family of eight, four of us are students in Arlington Public Schools and two of us are studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The way in which we educate is new to everyone and its complexity has affected students of different levels of education very differently, which I have been able to see first hand in the Stroup family.

Starting with the youngest is my seven-year-old sister Willa who is a second grader at Jamestown Elementary School. Second grade is an extremely crucial year in school, where you learn things from how to share to doing math problems for the first time. Because of this, Willa tends to stick to a strict schedule. Willa wakes up at nine on school days and begins her daily checklist, which my mom creates to ensure that Willa has activities to work on throughout the day. She watches morning meetings through Flipgrid with her teacher and completes weather reports, while also having time to play outside and go on bike rides. 

“I am definitely not learning as much. In some parts we do not have that much work and other days we have a lot to do,” Willa said.

Elementary school appears to be the hardest curriculum to follow online because interactions with peers her age is a crucial part of Willa’s learning. Now that the only friends Willa can see in person are her older siblings, she definitely is missing seeing familiar faces. 

“I really miss my teacher, but also my whole class,” Willa said. 

Overall, Willa seems to be getting the same amount of knowledge she would be getting in class thanks to the dedicated work put in by my mom and her teacher. The one thing she is missing is interaction. 

Moving onto the second youngest is Declan who is in seventh grade at Williamsburg Middle School. Declan, on the other hand, is not necessarily feeling the need to do every assignment.

“There is not a lot of pressure to do the work. I do not see my teachers face to face and that adds to the low motivation,” Declan said. 

Middle school seems to be the odd and commonly forgotten years, so the sudden switch to online school seems to be affecting them the least. Declan wakes up and does work for an hour and he is good to go for the rest of the day. 

Next in the family is me, Maren. I am a sophomore at Yorktown High School and I have been doing lots of things to keep me busy, from walking with my family to working on projects around my house with my siblings. School has not been a huge challenge, but I am getting a good amount of work. I have been working mostly in three classes, and keeping up with some others, but overall I am not stressed about school on a day to day basis.

Out of my siblings, school’s closure has had the biggest impact on my older brother Aidan, who is a senior at Yorktown. Along with missing quintessential moments like graduation and prom, he is also missing his last season of high school tennis and countless memories with his friends. He is going to the University of North Carolina in the fall (hopefully on time) and has been finishing up testing and working on optional assignments. He misses many aspects of being a second-semester senior at school.

“Mostly seeing people. I will be going to college in August so I have a limited amount of time to see them and we are losing some of that time now,” Aidan said. 

Next year Aidan will be going to school with our older sister Grace, who wrapped up her sophomore year recently online. She finished her school year a while back, but while she was still learning she had Zoom calls with her classes and had final papers to complete. The style of online learning did not satisfy her. 

“I think there are definitely easier aspects to it but I have no motivation. I could not really engage with my professors the way I wanted to,” Grace said.

Lastly, and another graduate, we have Kiernan. Kiernan is finishing up college and living in Chapel Hill, and online learning was not ideal for him. 

“It has been finals week so I have been doing a good 5-6 hours of school work a day,” Kiernan said. 

Finals from home do not seem ideal because of all the possible distractions, especially having no access to the library to write papers and study. Kiernan said he is glad to be wrapping up his final semester of school soon. 

Through all the ages and grades, you can see a lot of differences but also a lot of similarities. It is definitely a challenge working and staying focused in a house full of seven people, but together we make it through.