Hello, I’m here too

Sylvia De Young ’26 shares why she chose the Online Learning Program over returning to learning in person.


William Cheng

Sylvia De Young ’26 shares why she has remained an owl, someone enrolled in the ICCSD Online Learning Program.

“Oh, so you just sit around in your pajamas all day staring at a screen with no one to talk to?” This is the common assumption made when another teenager hears that I am in online school. Yet, my presence on camera in class every day discounts the critics.

Much fewer people are involved in online school both nationwide and within ICCSD as the COVID-era has passed. However, this doesn’t mean that online school isn’t still a valid form of education or that people shouldn’t choose it. I chose it. 

The ICCSD Online Learning Program is a fully online school offered by the district. Similar to the schedule from 2020, school days are split in half — one asynchronous half and one live half on Zoom. Each class is only offered during one period due to low enrollment.

Classes start off with students messaging ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ to each other in the chat, and then many teachers ask a question of the day before taking attendance. As the side conversations in the chat settle down, the teacher begins going over the material. Once a student finishes their in-class work, they may be allowed to leave the class early and have a few minutes to themself before their next class.

Going to school online has made me feel less restricted than I did at an in-person school. When I was in person, teachers would monitor my whereabouts and constantly make sure that I was following the rules. In online school, I feel like it’s my choice to go to school and learn each day rather than simply going to school because it’s an obligation. I have to stay on top of all my homework and get to all my classes on time; no one is there to remind me of where I need to be or what I need to be doing. 

I only have to be in class for about four hours each day and spend about two hours on homework — this rarely exceeds the allotted time for an in-person school day. With my extra time, I’m able to go for walks with my dog, spend time with my family, read, learn languages and help out my neighbors with odd jobs.

I’m also able to be in the comfort of my own home. It’s easier for me to focus because I’m able to work independently rather than having to be in a group setting. Being in my own space allows me to do many things that may not be allowed in person or would bother others. I can listen to music out loud, curl up in my chair, open a window, read things aloud to myself and grab snacks during classes. Teachers are easy to reach, and I can always go to office hours if I have questions or need a quiet place to work and be held accountable. 

Since the majority of students have returned to in-person learning, the district hasn’t put as much attention into online learning as it did in 2020. There aren’t as many class options to choose from outside of the required courses, and if an elective that could be taught live overlaps with a required class, one has to take the elective through an entirely asynchronous program. However, the asynchronous program doesn’t give students more elective options because solely asynchronous classes are only allowed if there are scheduling issues or a class needs to be retaken. All advanced classes, such as AP and honors courses, aren’t taught online; if a student wants to take one, they have to go in person for that specific class. Music electives follow this guideline as well.

Even though I enjoy going to school online, it can be difficult to interact with others. I find opportunities to socialize by regularly volunteering, running errands and visiting with family and friends. Although I haven’t made any new friends through the OLP, I’ve watched friendships develop between students of different home schools, which probably wouldn’t have happened if we were all in separate in-person schools.

Every day, I walk my dog at a time that may seem odd for a high school student to be out and about. On these walks, it’s typical for my neighbors to ask me why I choose to be in online school rather than go in person. A teenager deciding to be at home by themself instead of socializing and having the experiences that high school offers may come off as weird and unusual to some people. However, I choose online school because it makes me happy to be in my home with less people around and in a school with a flexible schedule where I am provided more time to do the things I love. Online school isn’t the right fit for everyone, but it is for me.