Students choosing fifth year 'victory lap' of high school as pandemic interrupts learning
TORONTO -- Remote learning, cohorts and quadmesters have disrupted the way students get an education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s why AY Jackson Secondary School Grade 11 student Sydney Kam is going for a victory lap, and will stay in school beyond the traditional four years of high school.
“I decided with my parents, it was kind of group decision,” Kam said Monday in an interview with CTV News Toronto.
“I realized that if my last two years of high school are going to be like this, I need to go slow and do things when I’m not in a rush.”
Kam is learning biology and math this quadmester. She said some classes are now three hours instead of one hour and a bit.
“It’s just crazy. It’s the same amount of work you’d be doing in a normal year, but faster and more condense and even the teachers are stressed,” she said.
Then there’s the online component.
“It’s harder because there are connection issues, everyone is talking over each other When you ask a question you have to hope your teacher sees the chat box or raise your hand with the little feature,” she said.
During the pandemic Kam said school feels more like homework.
She dreams of studying biology at Queen’s University and wants great marks to get there.
On top learning in a pandemic, Kam also had mono and missed three months of school, so she came to her decision after trying learn at slower pace and then saw results.
“When I took a spare last quad, I got a 90 in Spanish and that’s like the highest mark I’ve ever gotten because I could focus all my time on it.”
Kam is planning her victory lap to be an extra half year. She said she has a friend at another high school planning to do the same. Students in Waterloo have also shared reasons they are considering a fifth year.
“This isn’t failing high school,” she said.
“I would honestly say don’t worry about graduating on time. There is no such thing about being on time. Take whatever time you need"
A spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board said it doesn’t have data on how many students are taking victory laps at this point, and it could be too earlier to tell.