Teachers and students of SHS adjust to online learning



Math teacher Gale Smith holds a Zoom session for his class.

   Due to COVID-19, students are now having to make big changes in their educational world. All schools in school district one have been closed since March 16. No students are allowed inside SHS and teachers have been continuing to teach online through Zoom conference calls and Google Classroom. For some subjects, there are many unique obstacles some teachers are facing. Along with the teachers of SHS, many students, especially seniors are still adjusting to a different way of learning and experiencing high school.  

   With subjects like music or physical education, there are many things teachers are limited to when teaching over a computer screen. Normally, a physical education teacher would be right there with the students helping them track their progress and making sure that they are working hard to stay healthy. Music teachers would be conducting, listening for key factors that improve music quality, and introducing new techniques for a higher performance level. Ashley Lecholat,  choir teacher at SHS, has experienced the student side of online learning through getting her masters degree from the University of Nebraska. “I am amazed with how willing students are to learn out of the box,” said Lecholat. Many music teachers at SHS have been assigning music theory through Google Classroom, making recordings of music pieces so students can learn at home, and teachers have also been meeting with their students over zoom to check to make sure the material is effective. 

   From a similar perspective, it is not necessarily easy for physical education teachers to effectively teach their classes either. “As physical educators we are not used to sitting and lecturing, we are used to being more hands on, showing movement patterns and teaching subjects in person like strength training,” said Tyson Shatto, a physical education teacher at SHS. “The amount of time and effort that teachers put into building those relationships with kids is so important, and I feel this interface has made it very difficult on both teachers and students.” Physical education teachers have been using Google Forms, Zoom workout sessions, and have also asked students to share video clips of them doing the workouts required in order to give students credit. “We have tried to get as creative as we can with today’s technonlgy,” said Shatto, “The kids have made some really entertaining Tik Tok videos that they have shared with us, so that’s been really fun.” 

   Adjusting to a new way of learning is not only a change for teachers it is also a major change for students. There have also been many cancellations of school events that were going to happen during the last few months of school. Students have had to stay at home and learn through a computer screen. With this difference in everyday life, students have noticed things that they may have taken for granted in the past and have also noticed new struggles they have to deal with. “Shifting from being in a classroom environment to having to go back to making your own schedule and finding motivation to get it done has been a struggle,” said senior Emily Anderson. Anderson was involved heavily in academics to try to better her future. Because of the pandemic, the shutting down of schools and travel heavily impacted her senior year along with many others senior year. Some of the events that have been canceled at SHS are events like band, orchestra, and choir festival, We The People national competition in Washington D.C., and all spring sports. Additionally, graduation ceremonies and prom are still pending with the administration office in terms of how they will proceed with these events or if they will also be canceled.  “At the end of the day it’s a sacrifice everyone has to make,” said Alex Garber, a senior at SHS. 

   SHS is not the only thing shutting down. Many restaurants, cafes and small businesses have shut their doors and are now only providing curbside deliveries. With social distancing protocols being enforced and encouraged, many people throughout the community are realizing the things they should be grateful for.  “If I could go back and appreciate more of my senior year, I definitely would,” said Anderson. Anderson says she has been spending more time with her family and playing sports like volleyball in her backyard in order to stay active. Anderson also says that time at home has allowed her to write scholarship essays too. 

   Garber has been trying to keep healthy by going on solo runs often.  “It’s important to get out of the house and not be cooped up all day,” said Garber. Since school and work can be done from home now, families are also getting to spend more time together.  “I have grown a lot closer to my family,” said Garber. Before Covid-19 hit Wyoming and Sheridan County, many students were involved in sports, clubs, and some had jobs. Most students have changed their busy schedules to stay home and work on school in order to keep others and themselves safe. However, there are a few people who may not be social distancing or following protocol. “Staying home in general has been a struggle. I am a very social person,” said Garber, ”But you have to be the bigger person and stay home.”

   There have been many obstacles through this whole experience for everyone nationwide. Shatto and Lecholat both miss their students along with many other teachers in the SHS staff. One the other hand, students also miss attending school and the social aspect of high school. “It’s been a real eye opener on what should be appreciated, like going to school,” said Anderson.