Year 9 student Amelia Lee's favourite Dumbledore quote, "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light," from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is standing her in good stead during Auckland's fourth Covid-19 lockdown.
The hardworking 13-year-old has transitioned into Level 4 with relative ease, thanks to ACG Sunderland's outstanding online learning programme, plenty of virtual connections, and a positive attitude.
"Online learning has taught me to persevere and keep pushing through the hard times. It has also taught me to trust that everything will turn out all right; you just have to take it day by day and look for the positive in everything," says Amelia.
"This time around, the transition has definitely been smoother, and it's been much easier to return to online learning because we already know the drill. At ACG, online learning is extremely similar to in-class learning, just a little more independent and self-directed, with fewer group projects. The course work hasn't changed much at all, considering the tricky circumstances."
Although Amelia admits her "heart dropped" when Level 4 restrictions were first announced, she has worked hard to stay connected and engaged.
"I'm a very sociable person and can feel quite isolated in lockdown, but fortunately, our online learning programme enables us to connect with our fellow students almost as much as we do in school. The teachers are really great in allowing us to have time to talk with our friends and discuss concepts, while outside of class we have loads of video chats and phone calls and do work together."
Top-notch online resources and a multitude of interactive activities keep motivation levels high and further enhance learning.
"We have every PowerPoint, worksheet and PDF on Blackboard [a web-based course-management system] so that we can access any information we need. Plus, we use Microsoft Teams to communicate and submit our homework. Teachers allow us to talk and debate topics that ensure everyone is engaged and contributing, and we also get put into breakout rooms to discuss different points. If we're lucky, the teachers even show us their pets which is lots of fun!"
However, some subjects, by their very nature, are more interactive than others.
"In maths, for example, students mainly just interact with the class or teacher when asking for help or explaining a question out loud, but in social science, I'd say around 90% of the subject is based around discussion, debating and asking questions. I personally learn better in a social environment where everyone shares their ideas. I think having that interaction really helps me to understand and absorb information."
For such an outgoing teen, adapting to the lockdown lifestyle has its challenges, but Amelia is drawing on all her resources to make the best of the situation.
"I make sure I do at least one social thing every day and regularly text and call my friends. I'm so grateful to all my teachers for being so awesome they have been very supportive checking up on me to make sure I'm okay."
And like all her ACG Sunderland classmates, Amelia hopes that in the not-too-distant future, she'll be back at school doing what she loves.
"I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends again, in person, and to getting back to normality. I love the familiarity of my daily routine – I can't wait to have that back!"