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Online learners enjoy flexibility, miss their friends

With the potential risks of COVID-19, some Smith-Cotton students have chosen to stay home and do online school through the Launch program. Although online schooling can be challenging and unorthodox, these students are trying to take advantage of this education opportunity. 

Counselor and Launch Liaison Katie Ellis said that there are approximately 163 kids at S-C who are doing online school. Launch is not offered through the Sedalia 200 district, but from Springfield Public Schools. 

“We’re paying a third party provider in order to minimize instruction for our own teachers,” Ellis said. While many students have inquired about going online after being at school for a few weeks, Ellis has not been able to grant that since Launch registration ended Aug. 15. 

Junior Taylor Burnett and her family decided that it would be best for her to do online school because of some health concerns in the home. Burnett and her 2-year-old sister both struggle with asthma. Burnett noted that her little sister’s asthma is more severe, and she has wound up in the hospital before from being sick and her family is trying to prevent that from happening again. 

Senior Mark Villalobos is doing online school because his mother is pregnant and has an underlying condition. His family decided this would be the safest option for them to keep them all healthy. 

Burnett is taking classes including College Algebra, English III, Psychology and more through the Launch program. One thing she likes about online school is that she can stay up later working ahead and do assignments when it’s convenient for her. Burnett also runs a small baking business from home and has more time to take and fill orders. A typical “school day” for her lasts around four to five hours. 

Since Villalobos is a senior, his course load is on the lighter side. He has a total of four classes: English IV, History of American Baseball, College Algebra, and Astronomy. His normal school day lasts 2-3 hours, and he likes being able to work from his own home. However, like Burnett, he misses socializing with all of his friends. “I miss running into my friends in the hallway,” Villalobos said. 

Senior Bryson McNeely is taking English IV, college algebra, and Tiger Tutors for his A+ program. McNeely likes to get all his work done toward the beginning of the week so he has more free time later. He adds that he loves being able to work at his own pace and has not found much negative about online. 

“The biggest bummer I’ve encountered is not being able to paint a parking spot,” McNeely said. He plans to finish out the year online. 

Burnett notes that she misses the social aspect at school the most. “I miss interacting with my peers, I miss talking to my friends and having classes with them,” she said. 

As of now, Burnett does not plan on coming back to school second semester due to the risks. However, she hopes that conditions improve so she can get to fully experience at least half of her senior year. “Since this is one of my last two years, I feel like I’m missing out,” she said. 

Villalobos plans on coming back second semester. He added that while his family does recognize the risks, they want him to be able to experience at least some of his senior year. “I’ve seen all the fun that past seniors have been able to have and now that it’s my turn and I’m not able to do most of it it just shows not to take anything for granted,” Villalobos said. 

While online school is not ideal, these students agree that it is a great option to be able to have a good education in the midst of the risks of a pandemic. 


By Natalie Adermann