Editorial: No stigma in taking advantage of alternative learning

Katie Kempff and Chloe Ladines

For centuries, school in the United States has followed a similar structure. Our August/September to May/June schedule is still based upon the farming season, and the 8-hour school day is reminiscent of factory workers in the industrial revolution. 

With modern technology, understanding, and opportunities, though, alternative education styles should be embraced and publicized. Not everyone learns or works the same way, or thrives in the same environment. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us realized the strengths and weaknesses of online learning. Some people found the more flexible environment to be extremely helpful, whereas others struggled without a solid school structure. Yet one thing that everyone realized is just how much the style of school can change the amount of information we retain. 

Within District 303, there are many alternative or additional learning opportunities which are not publicized as widely as they should be. Compass Academy, Dual Enrollment, Online Coursework, AVID, the Fox Valley Career Center, and other opportunities are present and widely used by students; yet some don’t even know they exist. 

Compass Academy is an alternative learning space for students in D303, which opened this year. However, students who are enrolling normally at East can also take advantage of multiple learning options. Dual Credit classes through Elgin Community College or other colleges/universities can be taken for both high school and college credit, in many cases. Students interested in exploring different career opportunities can take advantage of the FVCC. 

Often, it feels as if there is a stigma attached to students taking alternative learning pathways to the typical 7:20-2:20 day. Yet if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that flexibility and understanding are crucial to moving education forward and allowing students to thrive in the environment in which they are the most comfortable. 

Just as students have different personalities and different career goals, they also should be allowed to have different education pathways. The alternative learning opportunities offered by District 303 should be publicized more widely, so that students can be informed about their options. The stigma around these unique opportunities may be stopping some students from gaining valuable experience in the career or degree they plan to pursue after high school, which is something that needs to change.