Jack Jouett Middle School student speaks at congressional briefing on virtual learning experience

Hikari Calderon, a seventh grader at Jack Jouett Middle, shared her virtual learning experience at the Speak Up 2020 Congressional Briefing.
Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -A student Jack Jouett Middle School is bringing Albemarle County Public Schools some national attention.

Seventh grader Hikari Calderon got to sit in on the Speak Up 2020 Congressional Briefing and share her personal experience with virtual learning. Calderon was the youngest of just four students from across the nation picked to attend.

“There were principals, there were senators I think, a lot of teachers. Lots of important people," Calderon said.

The briefing was hosted by Project Tomorrow, one of the nation’s largest education nonprofits, to release national findings regarding the transition to online learning. With a group of panelists, Calderon shared some of the challenges she and her classmates face on a day-to-day basis.

“We usually get aheadache and it’s kinda like stressing to figure out what’s happening and we’re kind of alone. When we were at school, we could tell our teachers, ‘Oh this isn’t working.’ But to communicate with our teachers, we need the internet and sometimes the internet isn’t working," Calderon said.

Even with those challenges, Calderon said she and her teachers are finally getting into the swing of things.

“I talked to my science teaching about me having anxiety and I started feeling better and better and today, actually, she asked me how I was doing and I just told her, I’m feeling better. I’m feeling used it. The last time we talked, she said she was also feeling that way, but now she’s feeling better," Calderon said.

Project Tomorrow’s study entailed three key findings, based on conversations with students and teachers.

First, going virtual creates new learning opportunities many students may not have had before the pandemic, thanks to emerging learning applications and digital platforms.

Additionally, most parents support using portable devices for learning, like laptops, tablets or smartphones. The study also found that the more a parent supports their child learning from home, the better a student’s virtual learning environment will be.

Calderon said there’s one change she would make: making sure students returning to a physical classroom can participate in a normal learning environment instead of one that is still mostly virtual.

“I think we should actually be in class, but also have some virtual learning at home because there’s a lot of productive stuff we can do at home too," Calderon said.

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