A change of space

Changing learning modes cause students to search for the best place to study and attend classes.


Lola Shipman

Senior Raabia Qureshi prefers to study at Olathe Public Library.

The mix of remote and hybrid learning throughout this school year left many students trying to find routine and normalcy. Coming on a year when BVNW students last had full in-person learning, they talk about what works best for them while continuing to navigate online learning.

Senior Haley Foster, who is the oldest of eight children, has grown accustomed to sharing space with her large family, but online schooling has created its own challenges.

 “Having seven younger siblings, there isn’t a whole lot of empty spaces in my house,” Foster said. “Even if I’m upstairs studying in my room, my sister and I share a room, so it’s a little difficult to find some space that I can have to myself to do schoolwork.”

Foster said her seven younger siblings are homeschooled, and her parents stay home to teach them, which means at most moments there are 10 people in her house all either teaching or learning.

Due to the dynamic of her entire family being home, Foster said she finds herself changing where she works but often ends up at her desk in her room. Foster said that the best thing for her is finding a space that has windows and natural lighting and making sure she is accessible to her family.

“I usually try to stay in just because I also sometimes help my siblings with their schoolwork, and we all kind of help each other,” Foster said.

Even if I’m upstairs studying in my room, my sister and I share a room, so it’s a little difficult to find some space that I can have to myself to do schoolwork

— Haley Foster

For seniors Rachelle Jackson and Caroline Flannagan, they find normalcy by meeting at Jackson’s house and experiencing the school day together while in different classes. Flannagan said it started after the district announced the school year would be starting entirely remote.  Jackson, Flannagan and two other friends talked about how they could make their first day of senior year special.

“When the district announced that we will be starting all online, we were kind of bummed about just the fact that we wouldn’t have a normal first day of school so we actually did the first day of school together and kept it kind of similar,” Flannagan said. “We got dressed up for the first day of school and we took first day of school pictures.”

Since then Jackson and Flannagan said they try to meet once a week but it shifts based on the learning mode since it is harder to keep up during hybrid. Jackson said the goal of getting together was to provide social interaction they would not have had without it.

Sophomore Britton Stasiulis works at Pilgrim Coffee. (Lola Shipman)

“You don’t get to see your friends and that’s one of the big things that motivates you to go to school besides the learning aspect,” Jackson said. “I think it’s really healthy to have those social interactions so it’s been really nice to have that normalcy and just like get together and have a little bit of fun during our school day.”

Jackson and Flannagan said Zooming into different classes while in the same room works out well for them because they all put their headphones so they don’t disturb each other. Jackson said there are rarely any issues with them talking at the same time and when it does happen she said it’s minor and can be amusing.

“My friend will be in a Spanish call and so she’ll have to be speaking Spanish and then my teacher will ask me a question so you can kind of hear [her], but usually, it’s just like funny and only for a second so it’s not usually that big of a problem,” Jackson said.

Flannagan said being together with her friends has helped because they are all studious and motivate each other. Flannagan said they can ask each other questions and help each other out which is advantageous since there is less contact time with teachers.

When not at Jackson’s house Flannagan said she works from a desk in her room and said she likes the change of scenery that comes from moving between the houses.

I think it’s really healthy to have those social interactions so it’s been really nice to have that normalcy and just like get together and have a little bit of fun during our school day

— Rachelle Jackson

Other students, like senior Raabia Qureshi and sophomore Britton Stasiulis, shift between learning spaces by attending classes from home but going to libraries and coffee shops to get additional work done. 

With spaces to work in opening and closing throughout the year, Qureshi and Stasiulis said they have had to get creative in finding spaces to work.

“I feel like I’ve kind of been able to explore what places I like studying, what’s comfortable for me, because obviously, in school, you’re in the classroom the whole time,” Quershi said. “This year being virtual, and me going different places, I’ve discovered a lot of new places nearby.”

Qureshi and Stasilulis both said being in a place outside of their home surrounded by other productive people gives them a new sense of motivation. Quershi said her current favorite place to work is the Olathe Indian Creek Library and said she loves how open and light it is while also being distanced from other people.

Sophomore Britton Stasiulis completes her school work at Pilgrim Coffee. (Lola Shipman)

“When I’m in my room, I feel more lazy and there’s less motivation,” Qureshi said. “So when I go to the library surrounded by other people who are also being productive, I think personally, that helps me.”

Stasiulis said the best place for her to get work done is coffee shops, like Pilgrim Coffee, which she started regularly going to this year.

“It’s a space where I can just work and everyone else there is working too, so it’s kind of like a school environment without actually being at school,” Stasiulis said. “When I’m in an environment where everyone else is working, and I’m just solely focused on working in a certain space, it really helps me be focused and just get a lot of stuff in the short amount of time.”

Stasiulis said the biggest thing for online learning is having established places to work and to rest so she can differentiate her personal life and school.

“Something I’ve really realized over quarantine and online school is like, I need a space that’s going to be just for working and then I need my room or my house just to be for my time.”

Despite the changing nature of the 2020-2021 school year, students continue to be adaptable and find out what works best for them. Through the uncertainties of the school year students have found spaces that provide them some normalcy the school year has lacked.