Editor’s note: At the last meeting of the Chimacum School Board meeting, student Eugenia Frank reflected on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students. Below are her comments to the …
Editor’s note: At the last meeting of the Chimacum School Board meeting, student Eugenia Frank reflected on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students. Below are her comments to the board.
The past 16 months have been the challenge of a lifetime, to put it lightly.
The sheer physical, mental, emotional, economic, and educational devastation we have seen as a community, a state, a nation and a planet should have been enough to kill the hopes, dreams, and successes of humanity, and yet, here we are, so close to the other side.
If we strain our necks, we can peek over the horizon and just start to see a glimmer of “after.”
And with this taste of recovery comes a gift that only time can effect: hindsight. After an entire year of serving as a liaison between the student community and the board, and witnessing our district’s journey through the pandemic, I want to take the time to appreciate those who helped us forge a path through the chaos.
First, our teachers.
Through this entire pandemic, our educators have worked tirelessly to ensure that their students had access to quality learning.
Through 80-hour work weeks, countless sleepless nights, YouTube lectures, Zoom and Google Meet classes, hands-on projects, engaging material, personal conferences, daily check-ins, extensive weekend office hours, phoning home, and more, our teachers have displayed incredible crisis mitigation skills during unparalleled pandemonium.
Not once over the course of the past year have I felt that the quality of my education slipped even an inch from the exceptional teaching I have grown accustomed to here at Chimacum. From building a wet-cell battery in Mr. Thomsen’s biweekly chemistry labs, to debating high-stakes bills in Mr. MacKenzie’s Mock Congress unit, to researching the alien creatures of the deep sea in Ms. Bonnell’s marine ecosystem project, school remained as fun, engaging, and educational as COVID would allow due to the exceptional work done by our teachers.
To my teachers, I couldn’t have done it without you, and to the board, you couldn’t have, either. I urge you to recognize the full value of your assets and hold on to them as tight as you can.
Next on my hit list of appreciations is our custodial and maintenance staff. Without your hard work, our school would not have been able to undergo the safe reopening we are now enjoying.
The importance of a clean, safe learning space for our students and workplace for the staff cannot be overstated. The assurance of sitting down at a clean desk in a well-ventilated classroom lifted the weight of worry off of so many students’ shoulders, alleviating some of their COVID-related stress and allowing them to fully engage in their in-person learning.
To custodian Bob Williams, thanks for always saying hello to me, and for remembering my name and asking how school was going. Although your department is an often overlooked gear in the wristwatch of the district, trust me when I say your service does not go unnoticed, and you are greatly appreciated.
Next, to our counselors Barb Fogerson and Stepanie Tell.
Thank you for facilitating our PSAT and AP exams, for sorting out schedules after each upheaval between remote and in-person, for connecting us with job and educational opportunities, for your dedication to Social Emotional Learning in a time when such programs were paramount, and for your enduring dedication to a being the people we can always go to for help. You listened to our physical, emotional, mental, and school needs and never failed to help us find a solution, no matter how unorthodox. You are a treasured resource in our school.
Next, our Athletic Department, particularly Carrie Beebe.
In a year of rattling uncertainty, our AD was able to coordinate skillfully with Port Townsend to restore our sports programs to a status greater than what we ever could have hoped for when our seasons were first cut short last spring. Your passion is evident in your extensive community outreach and dedication to getting kids safely back out on the field, the track, the court, and the mat. In a time when students were stripped of everything they love, you brought some of it back, and for that we shall be eternally grateful.
I would next like to recognize our food service department.
From the early-days bussing of meals to the how-to cooking videos, your devotion to our students’ nourishment was paramount to the success of our district’s response to the pandemic. A time of great instability was met with the adept and consistent fulfillment of our students’ basic needs, and the alleviation of this fundamental worry surely eased the hardship of the past year for countless families. On behalf of the student body and the community, thank you.
I would next like to voice our extreme gratitude towards our bus drivers.
Met with the challenges of COVID precautions, ever-changing routes, unusual and inconsistent schedules, and the repeated disappearance of your very jobs due to remote learning, our bus drivers showed up each and every morning for the kids who rely on them to get to school. It is impossible for students to learn if they cannot reach the place designed for them to do so, and so to our bus drivers and transportation department, thank you for delivering our kids to school and home again each day, regardless of the circumstances at hand. The sight of a big yellow bus rounding my corner will forever be a sign of stability, normality, and relief. We appreciate you and all you do.
Finally, thank you to Cameron Botkin and Marilee Liske for always letting me in the door, and for helping me sort out whatever qualm I brought to the office. You always seemed to have just the piece of paper or bit of information I needed right on the other side of your desk. The friendly faces in the office never failed to brighten my day and remind me of just how close our Chimacum family is.
While that concludes my round of formal appreciations, it by no means excludes those who I may have forgotten. Without the dedication of each and every staff member here at Chimacum, our ship surely would have sunk. Each of you played a part in lashing this vessel together after we first hit the iceberg last March. I mean it when I say: We couldn’t have done it without you.
(Eugenia Frank is a Chimacum student and has been a student director on the Chimacum School Board for the past year and will continue to serve next year.)