J-DHS Students and Staff Reminisce on Challenging School Year

Photo by Cleo Shiomos, '22

At the beginning of this year, everything was uncertain.  The conditions of returning to school were constantly questioned leading up to the day that students entered the building.  Looking back, this year was hardly an effortless feat for many members of the school community.  The district was plagued with multiple setbacks: a global pandemic, demands for reconstruction, the loss of a beloved student, and so on.  But still, J-D overcame the many unprecedented challenges of this year and is already optimistically planning for the improvement of next year.

Students struggled to adjust to learning from home for months after being in the remote learning model, which presented its own difficulties.  “The hardest part for me was definitely keeping on a set schedule with all of my classes and assignments.  Keeping up with missed work and trying not to procrastinate while dealing with distractions at home was definitely the biggest difficulty I had,” said Junior Maddy McKenney.  More students than not can attest to having experienced the same loss of motivation as McKenney over this past year.

In spite of inconsistency, students and staff were forced to learn the significance of adaptability in unparalleled circumstances.  “Throughout this year, I learned the importance of flexibility.  I was able to adjust to learning from home during a really difficult time, and will be able to use the skills that I taught myself through this period for the rest of my life,” said Junior Matt Sweeney.  Sweeney is not alone in his appreciation for his newfound flexibility.  “I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible, give people the benefit of the doubt, and understand that everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment.  A supportive word really goes a long way,” said Mr. Yanchuk.  Yanchuk is one of the many teachers that adopted lenient late-work policies in his understanding of students’ challenges throughout this past year.

Some members of the community are simply appreciative that they can now look back on this year and refer to it as the past, rather than the present or the future.  “Everyone’s job changed overnight, both students and staff.  This was a year we deemed unimaginable yet here we are, we did it!  We all struggled together, kept an open mind, learned so many new things, and most importantly, showed a lot of grace throughout the year. I am proud of how well we all did our jobs despite the circumstances,” said Señora DeJesús.  DeJesús speaks to the importance of gratitude when there seems to be nothing to be grateful for, a phenomena that many felt over this last year.

Though deprived of traditional experiences, this year presented many new and exciting opportunities.  Given more free time, students and staff were able to try unique hobbies that had always been on hold, spend more time with their friends and family than ever before, and take a step back to evaluate the path of their lives from an objective perspective, which has been reported to be both terrifying and rewarding.

Students are already forming high expectations for next year and are determined to revive the high school experience that they missed out on.  “I was really upset to have my freshman year cut short and my sophomore year altered to such extreme circumstances. I’m excited for my junior year and all that it brings,” said Sophomore TJ Tanner.  Tanner’s optimism seems to be reflected in a theme among students and staff for positively viewing next year and all of the possibilities it may bring.

Grace is a junior at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. She has been involved in the RamPage and RamFeed programs since her freshman year. She enjoys reporting on topics that she is passionate about and hopes to continue writing for the RamPage throughout her high school experience.