Back to school, sort of: Kate Bukowski

Leah Carrier

Staring at a computer screen all day long makes Kate Bukowski feel bored out of her mind. She’s sitting by a sunny spot in her purple-themed bedroom, a volleyball trophy visible on a shelf behind her. She sports a green flannel and her signature quirky earrings – today a cute pair of miniature tacos. Not too loud, but unique enough to make a statement.

Bukowski is a sophomore at Wilson this year. Her average school day starts at 7:30 am with a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. Like most students now attending classes online, Bukowski misses in-person school a lot. 

“I’m not really learning,” she laughs, fiddling with her necklace. “[I] feel like [I’m] not actually moving anywhere … academic[ally].”

To reinforce her educational motivation, Bukowski is enrolled in a 6 week long Criminal Justice course on “Outschool.” While she admits that the Netflix blockbuster Criminal Minds fueled her interest in the subject, she seems more serious about this career path than your average TV show fan.

“I’ve been talking with my mom … about being a lawyer, or working with the FBI,” she says. “I just think that would be super interesting.”

Her frustration with the monotony of online high school, however, still pervades her online school experience. “I’m just sitting in the same spot for, like, six hours. It’s not as engaging.”

She’s also concerned about students’ mental health during quarantine. “A lot of kids use school as an escape from their homes, and since they’re [now] home all the time … they don’t get that anymore. So they have to deal with their home plus the stress of school.”

Bukowski attests that the support of her parents has been keeping her going. Her dad works from home, and her mom was able to take a day off and go on a bike ride with her to “completely … forget about school for a day.”

She pauses, looking away from the computer screen at someone out of the picture. The voice of her younger brother, Broghan, is picked up by the microphone. He makes some indistinct comment, and Bukowski looks back at me, trying to act annoyed. But there’s a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, and I can tell that her typical ‘older sister’ act is merely performative. 

Bukowski has a unique appreciation for her two brothers. She enjoys having the company of another kid around the house, as the social limitations of distance learning can be pretty lonely. “Honestly, I … feel bad for all of the only child[ren]. If you’re an only child, you don’t really have anyone to talk to in-person besides your parents.”

While quarantine gloom is hard to cure, Bukowski manages stress by playing with her dog, Daisy, and spending time with her family.