SPRINGFIELD – Two freshmen from Thurston High School were asked to speak with the board about their comprehensive distance learning experiences during the SPS zoom meeting on Monday. Unfortunately nearly anytime class president Jaelyn Dunlap or vice president Savannah Efseaff spoke, the audio would cut out, raising student technology concerns among board members.
In a previous meeting, the board had discussed including student voices into their discussion. Freshmen reported to the board March 8, with sophomores, juniors and seniors presenting at following meetings.
Through patchy audio, Dunlap and Efseaff shared how they’ve been feeling about not being able to attend school in person and their excitement for returning to Thurston High on April 19.
After difficulty hearing each other, board member Naomi Raven asked if these technical issues are a regular occurrence in classes.
“That has made class harder for me because I’m traveling between two different homes right now,” Dunlap said. “Me being online and not being able to discuss with my teachers has made my learning process so much harder.”
Efseaff said she hasn’t had challenges understanding how to use Google Meets or Zoom for learning, but you don’t have to worry about the audio randomly cutting out when you’re talking to someone in person.
Dunlap said what she looks forward to about in-person learning is the socialization she needs to be successful with her learning, even though they’ll all be a little farther apart.
“I work better with socialization and bouncing ideas off of one another, having those class debates about something that’s happening in our lives or history.”
Board member Emilio Hernandez asked if there was a way to fix the unstable internet connection that caused issues during the meeting. “They want to see our graduation rates go up, but we can’t have a meeting without it cutting out,” he said, referring to state education requirements.
Superintendent Todd Hamilton said he would follow up with the internet provider, but noted high-speed internet to every home is a long-term infrastructure upgrade that involves more than what the school districts can do on their own.
“I appreciate that Jaelyn and Savannah have endured this and they’ve been resilient to get through this year to the point where they are at to share their ideas,” Hamilton said.