Seeing as a month since the end of school has elapsed, this is the perfect time to reflect on the year as a whole. School in the time of the pandemic was chaotic, inconsistent, and far from the normal year. Students and teachers alike were in strange places mentally (and sometimes physically) this year. From online school, A/B Schedules, and finally back to full attendance for the last month or two, the way we did school was constantly changing and forcing us to adapt with it. And whether or not you agreed with how the district handled it, we all made it through this abnormal year—give yourself a pat on the back.
The education system had one of the routines that was challenged the most by the pandemic. In order to properly quarantine, we were forced into online learning at the end of last school year, not being able to close our year out in person before the pandemic was in full swing, and quarantining was necessary for our safety. Zooms and Google Meets, as well as video lessons, were what got us through the end of the year. I ended my junior year by taking a shortened version of my AP Euro exam, which was studied for by video lessons online, instead of an in-class review. Luckily for me I passed, but others were not so lucky in the chaos that ended that school year.
Moving into the next school year, teachers were still in their symbiotic relationship with online video call services, and students were still attending class in their bedrooms, kitchens or wherever their likewise quarantined parents had dragged them to for class. The scrambling chaos of the end of last year was nothing compared to the grasping for straws chaos of the beginning of this year. Not to say that the district didn’t know what they were doing, or that they didn’t handle it well, our school board and government tried their best in a sticky situation. We were all out of our depths when it came to the beginning of last year; not only did we start online, we started late. Things were difficult and unprecedented, but here we are—summer! We made it!
On top of needing to handle classes, sports and extracurriculars also took a big hit this year. Not being able to meet for clubs, many high school students were unable to participate in the activities they would typically enjoy in a school year. For example, Y-Club this year was unable to attend the KYA and KUNA conferences they would typically go to during the school year. On top of all of that, choir and band were two classes, and extracurriculars, that took a big hit with the online portion of the school year. Despite the dip, all the extracurriculars seen at the beginning of the year were still hanging in there by the end of the year, and the people who wanted to be a part of them were, too. The online choir performances put together by individual video recordings and editing are the prime example of this! Even if there weren’t as many shows this year they were still there! Band concerts, the choir musical, and even the drama club’s Reunited Shorts show! By the end of the year, despite trials, tribulations, and limited rehearsal time, art was still made, and extracurriculars were still able to persevere.
Despite the chaos of the last year, and the absolute abnormality of it all, it wasn’t all bad. Online schooling, while different, allowed some high schoolers to get a job and make more money than they would have been able to in a normal school year. Not only did it allow kids more freedom for jobs, it also just allowed kids more freedom in their learning speed. Many kids learn better independently rather than in a class. My Meade Online was the perfect solution for them. Personally, I went the in-person route, because I thrive in a classroom setting more than an independent one. However, the online PE and Health classes were more accessible to kids not in sports this year because of My Meade Online, so I was able to take online health and PE and get that credit out of the way so I can focus on the classes that will help me in my future career path.
School is never easy, and this year the difficulty was turned up a notch. Thankfully, however, things are slowly returning to normal for us. The end of the year was closed out with every in-person student in class at the same time, 5 times a week, and graduation went off in person without a hitch. We may have learned some new things about how we learn and adapt that will alter the way education works forever, but as things settle down and our numbers drop we will return to normalcy… whatever that means now. For me, normalcy means heading to a complete five-week Governor’s Scholar Program this summer. Something that unfortunately last year’s Scholars didn’t get.
The biggest thing this year has shown us is that we, as a community, can make it through hard times.