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5ea329cab4ae6 One silver lining of the crisis is that siblings of all ages are able to spend more time together. (L to R): Cassidy, Liz, Trevor, and Jessica Hoffman enjoy family game night frequently.
One silver lining of the crisis is that siblings of all ages are able to spend more time together. (L to R): Cassidy, Liz, Trevor, and Jessica Hoffman enjoy family game night frequently.

“School” is Much More Than Subject Content

It happens too often: we give up when life becomes too hard to bear. We’ve all faced these moments, whether big or small. And while COVID-19 didn’t seem like a big threat to begin with, it quickly and drastically overhauled everyone’s lives, including the lives of today’s youth. Triumphantly, instead of giving up, my school and community have adapted just like countless others across our state and nation, and it’s safe to say we have developed a new appreciation for school and everyday life in the process.


As schools began closing, educators knew they needed to find a solution, and with today’s technology, eLearning became an obvious answer for our high school. ELearning is learning that’s computer and distance based. This allows students to continue their learning at home or at least keep an already learned concept active.


At a glance, eLearning doesn’t seem that different from an actual school institution and even has some advantages. Seemingly, eLearning is more convenient for the students, guardians, and teachers. It’s a great solution for social distancing and the COVID-19 epidemic we’re facing, and teachers are continually adapting in order to reach their students.


Jeff Bachman, a teacher at Leigh High School, said, “This time has introduced me to some new technologies that I will continue even once we are back to normal.” In his Social Studies classes, Mr. Bachman has continued with his regular approach to teaching. He posts videos of himself teaching the new curriculum and assigns homework. Like all teachers, he then answers any questions via email or during his Zoom “office hours” where any student can join his Zoom meeting and receive face to face help or just say hello. 


Our elementary school has taken a little different approach to distance learning, but the concept is still similar. Kim Loseke, Leigh Elementary School teacher, said, “In third grade, we are sending a weekly packet of reading and math home for enrichment. We are going to start a weekly Zoom meeting, so we can stay connected as a class. It will be a time we can meet and share what we’ve been up to at our homes or do something fun, like an indoor scavenger hunt.”


As proven, teachers are still working hard to provide for their students, and this connection goes beyond a simple education.


Leigh principal, Troy Holmberg, said, “Something I have noticed from our teachers is the concern they have for students during this time. They want students to keep working, but they are more concerned about everyone making adjustments to everyday life during a crisis.”


From teachers to students, everyone is making the most of this new normal.  Pre-schoolers are giving each other field trips to their bedrooms.  Many high schoolers are keeping journals of the experience to share with their grandkids someday.  Seniors are sitting at the table to do homework with elementary aged siblings, and in general, families have become stronger. Teachers are learning technology they’ve never used before.  Cooks are preparing and sending out over 100 free lunches a day.  Other support staff are getting an early jumpstart on deep cleaning and preparing to transition into our new school next year.  


However, no matter what measures are being taken and what changes are being made, eLearning cannot truly replace “school” in its broadest sense.  What has really manifested itself during this shift to e-learning is that there is so much more to “school” than trig functions, science experiments, and Shakespearean poetry. 


While eLearning is a great solution to our problems now, it’s imperative that the traditional style of school stays alive in the future. It is clear now in these times of quarantine and social distancing, that what is so special about school is the relationships and comradery, even if we have taken them for granted in the past.  .


Sophomore Makenna Held said, “I’ve realized these past few weeks that school is not just a place for completing lessons and work, but also a place where students can be with their friends and laugh with their teachers. A place to share the joys of the week and also the lows. Life without school has had its own simple rewards of course, but it isn’t as special. I have a new profound longing to get back and sit in the wooden desks and hear the bell ringing every hour. School may be a place we say we don’t like, but until it is really gone, we don’t know how much it actually means to us.”


Even Kindergartener Sophie Loseke said, “We have no more school for this year. That’s sad. I like seeing my friends on Zoom, but I more prefer to see them at school.”


In a normal year, students anxiously and sometimes painstakingly tick down the days until the freedom of summer vacation.  But this year, this extended COVID-19 “break” has truly shown many students how valuable school is, especially since COVID-19 has ended the school year abruptly for many students. No one has experienced this bittersweet feeling more than the Class of 2020 seniors.  


Leigh senior foreign exchange student, Hannah Dronsett, had not planned to have her Nebraska life uprooted without a moment’s notice when she was required to return home to Norway in mid-March.  


“I had to end my exchange year three months early because of the coronavirus. My year is now over, and I basically have a five-month summer break. As both a foreign exchange student and a senior, it affects two things I’ve been dreaming of ever since I was little: prom and graduation. I’m heartbroken my year had to be cut short, but my year in Leigh was, without a doubt, the best year of my life. I’m sad I didn’t get to say goodbye to so many people.”


Fellow senior Natalie Reeves said, “Being a senior, I definitely didn't think my senior year would end like this. This national pandemic has brought something unimaginable for all of us. My last month and a half of ‘school’ has consisted of online learning, something I never thought we would resort to. Before COVID-19, I did dread going to school some days.  What student doesn’t?  But now I would give anything to go to school again.  I miss seeing my friends, classmates, and teachers. My classmates and I have been looking forward to graduation since the beginning of the school year, but now we don't know what graduation will even look like. COVID-19 has thrown many twists and turns in plans and memories for everybody, but after all of this, we will come out with a new perspective on life and learn not to take the little things for granted!" 


We can’t change the present situation; however, we can certainly change our attitude. Like all schools, everyone at Leigh has had to change, grow, learn, and adapt.  Above all, we’ve come to appreciate the simple things about life and school we have perhaps over time started to take for granted.  


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