BUCKHANNON — Most Upshur County students returned to the classroom full time this week, while some families have chosen to continue with remote learning at home.
After what seemed like a long wait for some, teachers and students happily filled the classrooms of Upshur County schools with laughter and learning. Pre-K through 12th grade students have been working towards this moment for what seems like forever. With their first week behind them, teachers and students had plenty to say about the 2021-2022 school year.
“It feels great to be back in the classroom and to be able to see the kids and hear all of their stories, and to give them a feeling of normalcy as best we can,” said Becky Squires, Special Education teacher for grades 3-5 at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
“Kids got used to being virtual and now we are suddenly back in school. I think this year is going to be good,” stated Jaden Young, 8th grade student at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle school.
“It’s an amazing feeling to stand in front of students and see their faces. It’s amazing to interact with them. It gives them a sense of not only normalcy, but consistency,” expressed Sabrina Loudin, School Improvement Specialist at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
Presley Ware, 8th grade student at B-UMS, told The Record Delta, “I think the year is going to go good. I’m excited to be back in school with my friends. Learning from the teachers will be more fun than learning virtual.”
“I feel like this year is going to be hard and a lot like last year,” worried Regina Peterokovich, 11th grade student at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
B-UHS Principal Jonathan Pollock seemed very optimistic about the new school year and said, “As crazy as it seems, things are running smoothly, and we are so excited to be here and see what this year will bring us.”
“I’m hoping that senior year will go good, despite COVID and everything. I feel like being back in school is going to help prepare me better for college,” said Miranda Greene, senior at B-UHS.
Teachers have been preparing their classrooms for months, eagerly waiting to provide the safest environment for students while not taking away the fun. Janitorial staff members have also been working tirelessly to sanitize every inch of the schools, anticipating the students’ return. With one week down and many to go, the general consensus is that Upshur County students are in for a fantastic, fun, and memorable year!
“I have had so many conversations with students, parents, other teachers in this building, teachers outside of this building, teachers in other counties, across the state, and across the nation about what we’ve experienced because of the drastic difference between what we’ve been required to do because of COVID-19 and what would be considered our normal instruction. People usually want to talk about what COVID-19 has taken away from us and I kind of come at it from a different perspective. The biggest concern, especially last year, was we found ourselves sitting in front of our devices all day long instructing via Teams remotely and we struggled to get everybody on and connected and get a result that proved learning in an effective way. I really think that COVID was a gift in a lot of ways and people were concerned a lot about our students not being here and because they weren’t present in our buildings, that that ultimately equated to, they weren’t learning. And I think the opposite is true. I think we did learn. I think our students learned and we can’t dismiss that, even if what my students learned last year wasn’t exactly how to use nouns and verbs appropriately in agreement in their sentences always and consistently. They’ve learned about themselves, and they had to problem solve and step up or step out and communicate with me when they were struggling, and because they weren’t present and in front of me, I couldn’t make those observations. They were forced to do that and those are things that I can’t teach them,” explained Cheryl Cain, English 9/10, Pre-AP, Speech and Communications teacher at B-UHS.
“I’m so incredibly grateful that we’re able to be in person for this. It’s really going to enhance my experience as a student teacher. I know a lot of students and student teachers last year didn’t have this—it was taken from us—but they weren’t able to get the experience that every other student teacher does, so I’m just so grateful that I am able to be in person. We can see it in the students—I have heard them say so many times that they’re just so happy to see their friends again and get to talk to people again,” expressed Katelyn Wolfe, senior at WVWC and full-year resident student teacher at B-UHS. “The entire world of education has been flipped on its head. We all had to completely re-learn how to learn from school and how to teach school in no amount of time, so there were failures, and it was hard. We would not be educators if we didn’t use that to make a better experience for our students as we move forward and incorporate the things that we have learned into what we use in the future.”
Thank you to all the staff who have worked so hard to get the students back to the classroom. Also, kudos to the families who have chosen to continue virtual learning. Your decisions are not any less important and have been made with the safety of your children and family in mind. Good luck to everyone this year and The Record Delta cannot wait to see what all you accomplish and share your achievements with the community.