The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing educators at every level to change the delivery of education. Luckily, Renton Prep graduates Eden Fenta and Julien Johnson have the knowledge and experience needed for the digital education shift. As they continue as Running Start students, their experiences in Renton Prep’s digital-first curriculum gave them the necessary knowledge for today’s digital classrooms.
Both Eden and Julien are taking classes at Bellevue College as part of Running Start. However, nearly all of those classes have turned to distance learning due to the pandemic.
Of course, this has been a challenge, but both are using their past experiences to help them excel in college classes.
“Running Start has been quite liberating, with more variety of classes it’s been really interesting to explore various options,” Johnson said. “The classes were intimidating at first because it was a college campus, and there was a lot more freedom … but Renton Prep prepped me on my own independence, it sort of helped me with the process and understanding how to go through college classes.”
The start of college is difficult for any student — registering for classes, meeting your professors, understanding the syllabi. However, it was even more complicated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a challenging transition for Eden, who graduated from Renton Prep in Spring then moved to Bellevue for fall.
However, despite the pandemic, Eden found a way to stay involved on her new campus. She’s spoken at several conferences and ran for vice president of the Black Student Union at Bellevue. She’s now the secretary for that organization.
“Try to take as many opportunities as you can, because that’s what I’ve been doing and I’ve grown as a student,” Eden said. “Even though it’s through a computer screen, just stay active.”
Fortunately, with experience in completely online classes with Red Comet, she understood the expectations and demand of online classes.
“In Red Comet, the school didn’t tell you to submit assignments, you were the one that had to do it yourself,” Eden said. “In that sense, it did prepare me. Through my mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned from it and I’ve learned to stop procrastinating and finish work as soon as possible.”
Communication has never been so important as during 2020, where there are little or no face-to-face interactions. To stay in touch with teachers, it takes constant digital contact. This was another way Red Comet classes connected students to online learning classes at Bellevue.
“I’m communicating with teachers, doing Zoom calls, and trying to keep up as much as possible with my courses,” Eden said. “[Red Comet] prepared me a lot in terms of communicating and emailing teachers digitally.”
In Julien’s opinion, he’s missing out on important class time with peers where he can hear their viewpoints. Those social interactions have not been quite the same online. But he’s learning to adapt
“Socially, I didn’t know what to do, because communicating through text and not face-to-face — I’m kind of bad at it,” Julien said. “At some point, you have to use independence and be proactive to actually be communicating to friends, peers, and be more directly responsive even though we are distant.
As part of Running Start, students are able to earn college credit by participating in internships outside of class. Eden is assisting Renton Prep in mentoring students while taking two classes at Bellevue. Julien is earning credit as a math tutor with Running Start.
“It’s been fun to help people,” Eden said. “It would be really fun to work with everyone in person, not through a screen. But I’m still having a great time learning from the students and trying to help them.
Even before Eden or Julien finish high school, they will have hours of college classes completed. This allows them to get ahead in college, and explore more potential topics and courses that pique their interests.
“Running Start has been quite liberating, with more variety of classes it’s been really interesting to explore various options,” Julien said. “It’s been refreshing seeing different perspectives and having so much support.”
Renton Prep prepares students like Eden and Julien to transition to Running Start after graduating. With guidance and self-motivation, students have the opportunity to earn their high school diploma and their associate’s degree at the same time.
The Running Start program is a great opportunity for students who are serious about learning to get ahead in school. By getting ahead, students have more time to develop a personal portfolio for merit scholarships after high school.
If you’re interested in fast-tracking your child’s education with Running Start, get in touch with Renton Prep. We want to help your student get the most out of their education.