Distance Learning at OIHS Continues Past Logicality

A student plays an online driving game.

Paxton White demonstrates the new driver’s ed program / Photographer: Portia White

As students across Washington State increasingly head back into classrooms in various hybrid models, some worry that opportunities to address systemic changes beneficial to the state educational system may be neglected in favor of simply “returning to normal.” But at Orcas Island High School, teachers and staff are busy integrating the discoveries of the past year into their current and future course offerings.

“Principally, we’re focused on developing and building upon the work we’ve done to provide distance learning during the pandemic, rather than simply discontinuing those opportunities,” said one unidentified school administrator via Skype.

Reliable surveying has revealed a widespread desire to continue distance learning among a solid subset of the island population, primarily due to the popularity of sweatpants and snacks.

Initially, online Driver’s Education will be available for all students, using a game-based curriculum popular with adolescents. Students are prepared in the care and feeding of automobiles before transitioning to “Live” online sessions.

“Like, the parallel parking parts were boooring, but once I got to Merging Madness and the Autobahn Challenge, I was collecting spinning coins left and right! I can’t wait to get out on the real road!” reported one unnamed Sophomore on a Flipgrid survey.

Features of another course, Online 4-H, include lessons in Digital Milking, Virtual Animal Husbandry, and Online Cheese Making by Culturing Social Media. “It’s convenient that I’m able to use a split screen to feed my cyber-chickens while studying the Pythagorean Theorem,” noted an unidentified Freshman via email.

Other courses include Graphic Design for Meet Backgrounds, Leveraging Connectivity Issues to Improve Daily Napping, and the ever-popular music elective Manipulating External Microphones to make Weird Digitized Echoes During Google Meet Conferences.

“Other years when I’ve looked at the school course catalog, it was pretty limited,” beamed one Junior, “but now—I mean, look! 360-Degree VR Immersive Virtual Underwater Basket Weaving! Digital RPG Battle Royale BB-Stacking! So cool! Where have these electives been all my life?”

Looking forward, the school intends to develop counseling, secretarial, custodial, transportation, and even nutritional apps for students to download in order to complete their transition into the Digiverse.

“Some may prefer to resume in-person learning, in which case we’ll have to re-examine which course or two we might be able to make available in real time,” suggested a school administrator on condition of anonymity via text message. “Until then, let’s set up a Zoom meet so we can discuss disregarding everything here except the first letter of each paragraph.”

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