Lakewood High’s school year has been disrupted, but students and staff remain resilient

BY ROHEY BARROW & MAYA RISH, SNN Staff Writers

PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School students went on Spring Break on March 13, thinking they would return to school a week later. But during that week, students got the news: they would now be learning online, perhaps for the rest of the year. The reason was coronavirus, a disease that was originally detected in Wuhan, China, in Dec. 2019. Coronavirus or COVD-19, would sweep across Europe and began seeping into America in early 2020. 

For much of the spring, Americans – including the Lakewood community – self-isolated at home. Lakewood High senior Malik Byrd spent time with his mom and sister while quarantining. He said he was disappointed because it’s his senior year, and he is supposed to be having fun. 

“It’s taking away my time to play football and work out. I’m missing out on prom, grad bash, and walking the stage at graduation,” Malik said.

Principal Erin Savage said the major challenge in online learning was connectivity with Microsoft Teams, the online platform everyone is using to complete school assignments.

“Going from the traditional brick and mortar building to digital learning has been harder for some more than others,” Savage said. “Some students (and adults) rely on the camaraderie and socialization that they receive at school.”

Learning from home also means a lack of human interaction, as students were cut off from spending time with friends and family. Sophomore Emma Ash said the school’s cancellation greatly impacted her. As one of the stars in this year’s canceled musical, Legally Blonde, the excitement she felt about being in a lead role was crushed. 

“Thespians is my creative outlet,” Ash said. Without drama, she said she is bored and doing other household activities to stay busy. 

“I’ve been cooking a lot and baking,” Ash said. “I can’t wait to go outside and see my friends. I haven’t talked to anyone face-to-face who is not my mom in a hot minute.”

Teachers’ lives changed, too, especially for those who teach subjects like art and music. 

“It’s not my style at all, “said Jayce Ganchou, the 3D art teacher and baseball coach about online teaching. “I like being around the kids, interaction, the tools, the materials, making cool stuff and problem solving.” 

Ganchou’s biggest challenge is finding art projects that everyone can do with materials they have at home.  While one student may have the materials they need to complete a project, another might not.

“I just have to create lessons out of what everyone would have at home,” Ganchou said.

Music teacher Jacob Merritt also had some challenges regarding online school and the way it has affected his teaching. 

“Students without instruments are almost impossible to teach the way I am used to,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m always surprised by students’ resilience and adaptability.”

Rohey  Barrow and Maya Rish are students in Lakewood High’s Journeys in Journalism magnet program and write for the Spartan News Network.

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