URBANDALE, Iowa — Inspiration strikes at any age. “I want to be their voice and I want to let them know their voice has been heard,” said 10-year-old Olivia Kruger of Urbandale. That voice is against an online-only model at Rolling Green Elementary. “I believe so strongly and I’ve heard all my classmates and all they want to do is see their friends,” said Olivia, a fifth grade student at the year-round school.
Monday night the Urbandale Community School District extended online-only learning through Aug. 20, despite the state board of education saying they must be back in the classroom on Aug. 7. Olivia said, “It’s been a bit of a tough experience. I’m a huge people person and so not being able to see or talk to my classmates has been really hard.”
Olivia told the board in public comment that the online model offers too many distractions and at times isn’t challenging enough. “I had this math assignment and I got it done pretty quickly and my mom came upstairs and saw me playing a game,” said Olivia.
While Olivia and her younger brother are jumping at the chance to be back in the classroom, she understands the value of meeting in the middle. “I know there are kids that enjoy online and so the choice between the both will work best for Urbandale families,” Olivia said.
Through Rolling Green’s two-week online experience, the Krugers have noticed it may be a one-size-fits-all approach that leaves out too many students. “Everything is so centered towards the middle or wherever that point is with the class, and if you have children above or below, they are all on that same path,” said Olivia’s mother, Amy Kruger.
Online may not be Olivia’s choice, but it has taught the fifth grader life lessons. “She’s learned that not everybody thinks the same way she does, so she’s been able to understand and grab that,” said Amy.
Being the voice of a group she feels has been underrepresented is something Olivia hopes comes in handy down the road as president of the United States of America. “It is a great deal of responsibility that I’m willing to take on and I’m willing to have fun and do that challenge. I’m used to taking the lead in situations, so I think a president would be a perfect job for me,” Olivia said.
For now, the 10-year-old is content with holding her trust in the school board but not without some guidance. She said, “Be well and have only the best interests in your heart for the community.”
The Urbandale Community School District plans to vote on a district-wide return to learn plan on Aug. 10.