CSI and MST Students Decide Whether or Not to Drop Program

Samantha Messina

CSI/MST students in Utica Community Schools had to choose whether to drop out of these programs or enroll in the Virtual Academy this year to stay in these programs due to changes caused by COVID-19.

“Students can seamlessly drop out of CSI and return to any homeschool for their core academic classes,” CSI math teacher Stacey King said. “What is affected would be losing the advantages the CSI program affords its students: creating innovative, collaborative, cross-curricular projects for authentic audiences, learning industry-based technology and software from teachers who previously worked in related careers and meeting and working with students from across the district.”

For some students, deciding whether to drop out of the program was an easy choice to make.

“I chose to stay in CSI and enroll in the Virtual Academy,” Eisenhower CSI junior Noah Vermeulen said. “This was an easy decision for me to make because I love the CSI community and all my friends are there. CSI is a very relaxed place with lots of trust and freedom. This is something I have grown so used to and I would miss it if I lost it. This year, in general, has not been ideal, but I know I would regret it if I lost my chance to be in CSI.”

On the other hand, there were students who struggled with this decision and have had trouble adjusting to online learning.

“It took me a while to choose between staying or leaving, but I chose to stay,” Stevenson MST sophomore Anthony Putrus said. “I know what the program has to offer, and I look forward to pursuing a STEM career, which MST will give me the right materials to excel in. Honestly, the program is way harder now than being hands-on in class. I have to focus on a small computer screen, and it is way easier to procrastinate at home than in school. It is less involving, since there no good way to do labs, activities or any other engaging assignments, which made it a little harder to learn.”

Teachers have also noticed the difference between virtual and in-person learning.

“Adjusting to virtual learning has been challenging,” CSI Engineering and Mechatronics teacher Scott Spry said. “Being in the same boat, students, and teachers alike, does make it easier.  Most students have adjusted very well, while others are struggling.  The goal is to keep instruction on course while making sure the boat does not sink. I think we are doing ok under the circumstances.”

While it may have been a tough decision at first, students are adjusting to their decisions.

“I am happy with the choice I made to stay at MST, because at the end of the day, I have already put in three years of hard work towards the program and it would be hard to just give it up,” Utica MST senior Shelby Remeselnik said. “Virtual is a lot harder, for me at least, but I do not regret my decision of returning to school with just MST and joining the Virtual Academy.”