So, You Think You Have it Tough…

Monday, April 06, 2020 - By: Jack NG, Ellis ‘21; Photo by My Dad - Who Else?

So, you think you have it tough. You think online schooling is “too hard.” You think waking up 10 minutes before class, warm and cosy in your blankets, merely reaching to your bedside table to  grab your computer, and making your way to class from the comfort of your king size bed, is inconvenient.

You think your internet is “too slow” for your Zoom meetings. You manage to come up with excuses to get out of Active Living workouts. You manage to sleep through Cookie Break. You manage to either zone out, or not tune in during Assembly.

Some of us don’t have those luxuries. Some of us, dear readers, can’t get away with any of it. Some of us are stuck in our homes … with our parents … who are teachers … at Brentwood College.

At 7:15am, the morning alarm sounds throughout the Napier-Ganley residence. Sergeant Major Jimbo or Captain Jillian do the rounds of the main bunker, squirt bottles at the ready, for any late wakers. Showers, business casual attire, and a full breakfast must all be complete before class, or else the afternoon will be rather unpleasant.

Five minutes prior to the beginning of the academic day, Captain Jillian comes around collecting any non-essential electronic devices: phones, iPods, graphing calculators used primarily in the playing of Flappy Bird, rather than graphing - the list goes on. Daily classes must be completed at a desk, in a chair that is too uncomfortable for you to fall asleep in.

As if the physical setup of the academic day wasn’t tough enough, having four people in one household leaves streaming Zoom meetings just as you would expect. The internet connection seems to be equivalent to that of Mr Cowie’s generation. Not to mention - and I will have to get confirmation from Mrs Olszewski on the physics of how this all works - the WiFi shuts off entirely every time anyone tries to microwave anything. Mr Ganley only remembers this 30 seconds into the warming up of his coffee … for the second time of the morning and I am left explaining why my mother instantly vanishes from our AP Macro class.

The two younger Zoom participants in the house work intently, just fine, until the excessive volume of Mr Ganley’s teaching - and scolding of Nick C - whose heart is really in the right place - provides good entertainment, and a serious test of focus for the two pupils that are supposed to be learning upstairs. I have also had the pleasure of experiencing Ms Napier’s newest approach to online teaching that I like to call the ‘Forehead Method’. Apparently Ms Napier’s number one request under the ‘What we want to see more’ section of her feedback sheet were the individual follicles of her hairline. And she happily obliges.

Come the afternoon, no aerobic system is safe in Napier-Ganleysville. Not only do the Napier-Ganleys participate in Active Living on sports afternoons - but every other day of the week. The support and encouragement of Ms Scheck, along with Ms Ostopovich’s grueling workouts are only the ‘warmup’ to the afternoon’s activities. 5km runs, hill sprints, rugby, soccer, or basketball workouts are all viable options to fill our post-academic agenda - and finally, the compulsory Family Spikeball Hour to cap off the evening.

“But, Jack, surely you must be able to relax once in a while - during breaks or Assembly?” asks Joe Average Brentonian. Incorrect Joseph. Cookie breaks consist of a family get-together around the kitchen table, where fruits and vegetables are shoveled into our mouths against our will, so we are ‘fueled up’ for our next classes.

Assembly? Apparently there is no better way to take part in the weekly school-wide get-together than joining together with your parents, sister, and brother in front of Mr Ganley’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, to watch Mr Patel inspire us, reminding us that this online situation is a marathon, not a sprint. Great, a marathon of this.

And after every speaker? We. Even. Clap.

Oh yeah, we have Family Reading Hour as well.

So the next time you even think of complaining about how hard online school is for you, just imagine your parents being teachers, coaches, and fine arts instructors, at homeschool highschool.

And say a prayer for Jensa and me.

Please.

Jack NG, Ellis ‘21

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