Profile: Malcolm Cole, Emily Gleeson and Valeria Stepanova

Graham Joshi

For more than a month, PPS students have been learning through their new online education. This has created a wave of emotions on the benefits and challenges of online classes, including handling assignments and staying on time with classes. Three students shared their thoughts on the new form of academics.


Junior Malcolm Cole says he has been working hard constantly since the beginning of school, taking three IB classes (IB english, IB biology, and IB business). In numerous clubs and working an internship. Keeping up with his homework is rather challenging colliding with his out-of-school schedule.


“I haven’t been doing that well with homework, since each teacher assigns nearly 2 hours each it’s kinda hard to fit that all in pulse with having a schedule outside of that with work and the gym.”


With students continuing to take online classes, remaining motivated has been a key factor during the pandemic. They have struggled as they become more frustrated with the adverse work pattern. With these challenges, students have found motivation as a tool to combat the struggles of online school. Whether the motivation is going to college, or just relieving the weight of homework.


“Something that keeps me motivated is the thought of having little to no classes next year due to finishing a lot more needed classes this year,” said Cole. “Plus the excitement of finally going into college is a big step.”


Group projects have been a commonality for students since day one of learning, and still are. Teachers create breakout groups for their students, only to be online instead of in person. Creating not much of a difference for our students.


“It’s kind of the same to be honest, it’s more or less on having which partner to do which thing to do the assignment, so it hasn’t really been better or worse more or less.” said Cole.


Another Lincoln student, junior Emily Gleeson, has also been in the fight for success. Heavily dedicated in the school, attending five IB classes (IB Philosophy, IB Psychology, IB History, IB Biology, and IB English). Gleeson, definitely having a tight schedule, talks about how the academic shift has changed her working schedule.


“The pandemic has changed my working routine in that now that I have a job and I’m taking more IB classes, I have to regulate my time more myself. It’s forced me to stick to a tight schedule so I don’t fall behind. If I do fall behind. There is no easy way to catch up, because I can’t meet with teachers in person.” says Gleeson.


With this new learning style, our assignments are quite diverse from what students did before. Along with the new payloads of those assignments, either creating a challenge or lightened ease of finishing. 


“It was easier in the beginning, because some teachers before the pandemic didn’t even use google classroom, some had their own website, and so on. Everything being all in the same place is very helpful, but when teachers keep piling on more and more work, it gets so overwhelming that it’s paralyzing.”


A week ago, it was reported that Portland Public Schools had announced that they will extend the online classes up until January 28th. In addition, colleges and universities are possibly becoming more engrossed in a student’s GPA and college essays after multiple reports state colleges are dropping their test standards (SAT/ACT). The Washington Times stated that “67 colleges and universities have announced at least one-year, test-blind policy due to the pandemic.” Creating additional anxiety for students that have dreamed of going to specific colleges, and now having to possibly work even harder to reach where they want to be. 


“I’m definitely more concerned. Because I have anxiety and ADD, if I start to feel overwhelmed, it creates a never ending loop of missing homework, stressed parents, and angry teachers.” said Gleeson. “If GPA is the main focus of colleges now, I can’t have a future. I work hard but my mental health comes first, and with the stressful and at times toxic work environment, sometimes I just need a break from school.”


Another struggle of online school and our open time, is maintaining a good reputation for our resumes. With businesses not being as available and more restraint on the number of employees, it has been challenging to find places to create experience. As well as creating more skill sets and volunteering experiences too.


“I’ve mainly focused on which things I have done that would seem useful to a company and they would be able to use my skill set for. I’ve added some things but had to take of minor things such as some school stuff rather than volunteer work.” said Malcolm.


Another junior by the name of Valeria Stepanova, is a former student of Lincoln and currently attending Metropolitan Learning Center. Answers a question based on handling mental health during the adversity of online school.


“I think it’s been less stressful to be at home.” said Valeria. “We’re not around a bunch of kids and getting judged and waking up super early.”


Finding career opportunities has also been a little different for students. Some places with more open spots due to the high amounts of unemployment and some accepting less teens compared to adults. 


“I haven’t been looking for a place to make money but I think it’s a little harder. We’re not as motivated and out and about.”


As good or as bad as it is, online school is going to last a while. With lots of debate of whether or not it should change, many students feel in different ways. Some accepting it, and some wanting a change in the way it works. 


“I think it’s the best we can do at the moment. It’s a good working schedule and it gets the things done.” said Stepanova. “Obviously online school isn’t going to be easy. But this is pretty good.”

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