Tammie Lee ‘21 joined the North Cross community last year. After one year staying at the dorms downtown, she is back at her home in Vietnam.
Adjusting to distance learning can be difficult for anybody, but when balancing a different time zone, it becomes more complicated.
“I would say that it is fun and a bit challenging at the same time because firstly it is about the
time difference between our countries,” Lee said. “To be able to join in classes with other students in America, I have to stay up late at night and sleep when the sun is about to rise in the morning, which was quite tiring to adapt at first. I had to choose to ‘live’ in the time zone of Spain.”
There is an option available for international students to watch class recordings, but Le says the best way to stay motivated is by attending class live.
“You might ask me why I don’t keep my routine like a normal Asian and watch the
recordings to study, it is because I don’t trust myself to be honest,” Le said. “To me, in-person class helps me to study at my best and to be productive all the time, and so if distance learning is unavoidable, I will make myself log on zoom and study with everyone in real time to prevent laziness from taking over me. I only watch the recordings in case I need to revise for quizzes or
I am unable to attend class. Secondly, it is about homework and communication.”
Le acknowledges that it is not as easy to communicate with teachers, but teachers are still available outside of class time.
“Unlike last year, when I was still in America, I could easily stay after class if I have any questions for homework or if I struggle at anything,” Le said. “This year, I have to email them to ask questions or to ask for their free time in order to zoom one on one and talk. It’s not that I cannot ask them straight in class, but sometimes I am afraid to sound stupid in class.”
Throughout the pandemic, Le has fostered hobbies that make quarantine a little less lonely.
“I founded a small organization in July called A Better Bite Project where we create articles and
graphic artworks to give information about food science for people on social media,” Le said. “And because I am the only designer for the organization, I have to work hard for us to meet our target number of articles per month. I never do art without effort, so it usually takes me a long time to finish them.”
“I love baking and cooking for my loved ones, whenever I have time,” Le said. “I also love to go and eat out with my friends because we have many many hot pot and barbecue restaurants here and milk tea stores too.” Le’s love for the kitchen is compounded by an affinity for K-Pop.
“I have a love for Kpop, something that I thought I may have lost when I was in America, when
everyone around me only listens to Rap, RnB, and USUK pop,” Le said. “When I am back in Vietnam, Kpop just naturally came back to me! Not to be too confident, but I believe I have a talent in memorizing Korean lyrics and dances! That is why whenever I listen to music, whether to relax or to study, I always sing along with the songs.”
Le also discussed her routine which requires sleeping during the day.
“A weekday of mine is simple. Since school started, I have gotten used to going to sleep at 7am my time and waking up at around 12 or 1,” Le said. “I will cook myself something to eat and then start to do homework until around 5 or 6pm. Then I will relax for a bit by listening to music and singing, or dancing, or sometimes drawing, and then start studying on Zoom. I usually eat my second meal at break time, between 1st and 2nd period and then keep on studying until 7am. I have also gotten used to eating only 2 meals a day. Sometimes, when I am exhausted, I will go to sleep earlier.”
Le suggested that staying in her room for extended periods of time allows her to work on art, an interest that she hopes to continue in the future.
“Because I am going to study art in the future, about one-third of my homework is about art,
which needs a lot of time and commitment,” Le said, “that is why I spend most of my time in my room to create artworks for school and for my organization.”
By Jessica Palisca '21
Making its debut in 2019, the Fine Arts Distinction Program starts again for the 2020-2021 school year. This program is for people who have a passion for and want to work at a higher level in art. Forms of art include theater, band, chorus, studio art and graphic design and leads to a distinction at graduation. The program is run by art history teacher, Amy Jackson.
Her interest in art sparked in kindergarten, when she won a competition. She did not start pursuing art until her junior year in high school. Jackson majored in studio art at Wake Forest University and then received her master’s in art from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also took many online courses and classes through museums.
The program mirrors the global studies and the STEM programs at North Cross, which include projects and seminars. Jackson said that the program is more than just sitting in a classroom.
“Students have the opportunity to work at a high level in their field” Jackson said, “collaboration is encouraged, students become a part of an arts community and engage with the greater arts community in Roanoke.”
For admission, students express interest during their ninth or tenth grade year at NCS and they have program and seminar requirements, in addition to course work. Over the course of their high school career,students earn 500 points to receive the distinction at graduation. Points can be earned through coursework, activities related to fine arts and attending outside seminars and performances. Other requirements are summer reading, an art-related DeHart project, completing a senior performance or show and a comprehensive program self evaluation.
The five goals of this program are to inspire students in the arts, to strive towards the highest level, encourage students to seek connectedness, promote the fine arts and honor students who have dedicated their time to it. Joining gives students many opportunities, such as traveling, summer internships, volunteer projects, All-District and All-State participation.
Chloe Hunt ‘21, who has been acting since she was five, joined the program last year. She has acted in The Virginia Children's Theatre and Mill Mountain Theatre productions and has interned at Virginia Children's Theatre.
While she does not plan to major in art in college, Hunt hopes to sing in an a capella group in college or do musical theater outside of her course work.
“I like how this program is more fluid than the other distinctions in the sense that art has so many elements.” Hunt said, “In just one of the seminars, I was exposed to poetry and studio art, and I know a lot of the other students produced interesting reflections. Being somebody who does musical theater, I am not as visual or lyrically talented as some of the artists in the program, so it really helps me to learn from them.”
“I think it is really important to stay connected with the arts because it provides a great respite from whatever a given person is dealing with.”
Phoebe Anderson ‘22 , who joined the program last year, focuses on art and writing. “I like that I can express myself without the need for someone being there immediately. It’s nice that I can work on a project, whether it be an artwork or a story, and I can work out all the details before sharing it.”
One of the opportunities she has taken advantage of in the program is the seminars.
“I’ve gotten to go to some interesting seminars, like the Ruth Badger Ginsburg seminar last week. It’s just fun to get other opportunities related to the arts.”
She said she will continue to take art through high school and potentially take art and writing classes in college.
Even though this program is only in its second year, it’s already full of students. The program hopes to expand and stay running for a long time so students continue to have an outlet for their artistic skills.