Pandemic positivity and pastimes

Zach Gross, Reporter

While much of 2020 has been defined by the pandemic and the isolation it creates, many students and teachers have found new ways to adapt, changing how they teach and interact with each other.

As U-High ends its brief time of blended learning, we face the next wave of online learning and separation. Teachers now are more prepared for online classes. 

During the start of COVID-19, many teachers had to take on new technological adaptations, even when they didn’t feel that confident in technology. 

“Technology and me have never been that great,” P.E. teacher Jeff Wollenweber said. “I’ve learned a lot, but still, I hear about other teachers here who are doing some amazing things.”

One of the teachers who has had a tremendous impact on her students is math teacher Mandy Stalets. After a long semester and doing her best to encourage students during this time, her class coordinated an appreciation surprise over zoom, thanking her for all she had done.

Junior Brooke Martin, one of the students who helped plan the surprise, said Stalets has repeatedly demonstrated concern for students’ mental health.  

“She is just a very caring person and wants to make sure we’re getting the best,” Martin said.

Teachers and students are seizing opportunities for improvement in new areas, including extracurriculars. 

“This has really forced us to use technology for a lot of things, ” vice Mike Shanley said.

Some of these changes are here to stay. With the school now better equipped for students to learn from home, any student who may become ill in the future can keep up with recent lessons online. Not only can this apply to illness, but snow days and showing extracurricular events online, like the fall play that was performed completely online.

“We still get to do the thing that we like,” theater director Benjamin Webb said. “Which in the case of this fall, we just want to be around our fellow theater people.”

It is difficult to appreciate the benefits of these changes as many students have been going through a difficult time amidst COVID-19. Still, some students, in an attempt to keep a sense of normality, have developed new hobbies and interests.

Shreya Ramachandran, a 2018 alum, said she has learned how to embroider this year.

“I taught myself how to embroider because that was something that I would really like to do,”  she said.  “You can embroider your own clothing, so I knew I could embroider things I could use and wear. And it was something to do to pass time. You don’t have a lot of control over the circumstances in your life.”  

In this time of a lack of control, Shanley said it is important to keep moving. 

“I think that if there’s anything that we’ve learned and what we’ve improved at,” Shanley said, “is make sure the show goes on.”