Bus Driver Shortage Impacts Many
By Ella French
Currently in the RCSD, we are facing a major crisis of a bus driver shortage, affecting everyone including students, teachers and families. This shortage has been going on for months now, and does not seem to be coming to an end despite the districts efforts. According to Spectrum News, “Any driver hired between now and April 1 can receive a bonus payment of up to $2,500,” proving that the district is making efforts, which are not being proven to be effective.
This problem began in September, a week before school, when we learned that school might not be able to open due to the lack of bus drivers available. To try to find a solution to this problem, bell schedules for the district changed. Democrat and Chronicle wrote, “The district is short 78 bus drivers with no available substitutes, with more resignations coming in each day. It has already adjusted school start times and asked parents to opt out of busing voluntarily, but neither idea served to solve the problem, which exists across the country.”
For us at East these bell schedule changes mean that school would start at 7:30am, and end at 2:55pm, earlier than we previously began. Coming from remote learning, it was even more difficult to adjust to the new schedule. During remote learning we had school at 9:00am, an hour and a half time difference. This might not seem so drastic, but for a child taking the bus, this could mean having to catch a bus as early as 5:00 am. Giving the average amount of sleep teenagers need at night, this affects our learning.
Teachers now have to find daycares that open super early in the morning, in order for their children to be taking care of. In the evenings, parents whose children aren’t out until 4, have to have their children walk home from the bus stop late, due to daylight saving time, sometimes even in the dark.
The bus driver shortage in the RCSD, is a serious problem affecting everyone in the district. We need to all work together to try to figure out a solution to this growing problem. We can all work together by advocating for ourselves, writing a letter to the mayor and school board. We can also make efforts to try and convince people to become bus drivers. We need to come up with a solution for this problem.
By Lex Cornell
In the Rochester City School Districts, school closings have been happening due to the Covid cases, not just only one day. With schools closed for more than one day due to staff absences, we had to switch to remote without very much notice or instructions on how we were supposed to do it. Many schools didn’t reopen after closing for in-person schooling. For the four days, we were remote many of the students were misunderstanding the concepts that we were supposed to be learning. This had a negative impact on student grades. When students returned to in-person learning at school, students were overwhelmed with missed assignments and lower grades. Not to mention, it is so close to the end of the marking period.
The impact of COVID on faculty is different than that on students. The staff fears getting sick and spreading it to their students or families at home. When teachers get sick, they have to make plans to be out, unsure if there will even be sub coverage. Staff worries that the lack of continuity of learning will hinder student performance, “It’s really hard for the kids because they have a new sub every day. Also, lesson planning gets really hard for the students,” says Susan Gross, the lead teacher in the CTE pathways. She states that “many teachers are asked to sub for other teachers when they are absent during their planning periods.” Students might struggle to be motivated to engage back in the course work. Faculty feel compelled to return as quickly as possible but may not feel good enough to return. The staff has to decide between work and their health.
Many scholars have felt that when they are out due to COVID they don't have the time to get better and keep up with their classes. This leads them to feel very overwhelmed by the work. Many people when they feel overwhelmed tend to push back with either bad behavior or with lack of motivation and involvement, According to Shawn Graves, East High senior, “COVID affected me a lot by being unable to keep up with the classes while feeling sick. I felt really discouraged and upset when I found out how my grades dropped, I tried to work with my teachers to accommodate my grades,” Many teachers work with scholars to help them improve their grades and catch up with the class. Sometimes it’s not enough for the students and they get too far behind to get back ahead. This strongly discourages the students from working at their best.
Both the students and staff, it is so difficult to come back. Trying to reconnect with each other and to get motivated to work together again while showing compassion and patience for meeting each other’s needs. The main conflict arises with the lack of teachers and students during in-person schooling sessions. One way we could help the schools with COVID rates is to encourage proper mask-wearing, increased social distancing, and weekly COVID screenings. I feel that that would be the safest option for schools to able to stay in-person learning.
Shine a Light on YOU!
By C’Morra Cuffie
It feels good when you get recognized for doing the right thing, especially when there's a pandemic still going on. It's hard to stay motivated and do work while mostly everybody around you is sick and is carrying a virus. It's stressful especially when you don't know who has it, not wearing masks isn't very helpful either. But somehow there's people out there who are still so eager to accomplish a goal. And those people get recognized for it on the school announcement, it is called “student spotlight.”
But how do they stay motivated during these hard times? You should start by producing a plan. Once you have your goal in place, a plan will take your vision and break down steps that you need. Without a plan the goal is just a dream. I asked East High Junior Jayla Allen, what keeps her motivated. Allen said, “I want to get into a good college and you have to start now, I don't want to be a failure and once I get my work done I have free time. When you get your priorities straight then you can do anything.”
She goes on to say, “I stay motivated because school has to end sometime. When I'm stressed I go to support and get work done because I know the teachers are there to help me so I don't have so much work due.” Allen is saying that when you ask for help or just really need it without asking, here at East we have support classes to help us and it helps with the stress knowing that there's many teachers in the classroom that can help.
Goal setting is also important. Allen says, “Every time I am tired of school, I always think about how I want to make it out of here. I don't want to be a drop out and when you're doing good people treat you well. I like to prove people wrong when they think poorly about me. So when they say I'm going to fail I just have to push myself and set goals every month and reach them, to make it out of school and the hood!”
I also interviewed Ms. Chalone, the teacher who's in charge of the student spotlight. She says, “At a teacher's meeting, the suggestion to acknowledge correct choices and behaviors amongst the students would benefit the whole school. Positive reinforcement works.”
And it’s true. You don’t have to be perfect to be nominated. “Teachers and staff can nominate any student for anything. The point is to choose something that went above and beyond, different from the normal behavior or action. We don't want to spotlight the normal, or expected behavior, but for some kids, what is normal might be the best they can do and we do want to acknowledge that,” Ms. Chalone states.
Teacher spotlights are a separate form. That is supposed to be in your family group Google Classroom where you, a student, can nominate any teacher or staff - any adult - for something you appreciate about them or that they did that you think is above and beyond.
Here at East the staff wants positivity not negativity, they want students to feel good about themselves for being hard workers and doing the best they can in this hard predicament and it's really nice to have this kind of support system because now we all as students want to try our best!
The Effects of Virtual Learning
By Ryan Bernard-Amico
Virtual Learning has become very popular since the beginning of the pandemic and that was turned into the new normal of learning for students around the world. It started off steady and then the grades and attendance in students declined gradually because of lack of motivation and making millions of students fall behind in the learning process. A majority of students feel that learning virtually was a waste of time and nothing new was learned but others actually like it and feel like it is an easier and more laid back way of learning.
The facts and data about this really show how much academics have declined from 2019 to now. This has become a really popular topic in many news articles. One of the many is NBC and they said “more than half of public school K-12 teachers said the pandemic resulted in a “significant” learning loss for students, both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint.” Students also lost touch with their interactive skills while remote like conversing with others which is important especially for students who may need more attention than others. Also the younger kids who are just starting school and don't know the basics it is even more difficult to teach it to them when online.
The teachers' experiences are very similar but teachers have a drastic impact from this difficult time as well. Some teachers say they feel like they were looking in a “mirror “because of the students with their camera turned off and either sleeping or not paying attention. The biggest issue of virtual learning is the big gap of loss of internet connection. Many students and teachers were getting kicked out of zoom classes and had trouble with loading assignments or with glitching while teaching a class. This style of learning really came to surprise everyone and really impacted everyone negatively or positively. Virtual Learning has impacted many students and teachers that have experienced it and are still experiencing it every day.
Prioritizing Mental Health
By Mckenna French
Many students are experiencing detachment from school and activities due to the lack of motivation and support. Some students even find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning just to waste the day away doing the same things they do every day. It’s not routine, it's a constant loop they are trapped in rooting from deterioration of their mental health. No one notices or even cares enough to help break the loop and this is a problem. A student’s mental health has a huge impact on their learning and ability to get work done, and sometimes they won’t even try. Educators need to understand that students can be in really bad shape sometimes and won’t even show it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble.
According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, “one in five people live with some sort of mental disorder or disease. Despite the fact that the average age of early signs of mental illness is 14, most individuals don't seek help until adulthood. Underlining the seriousness is the fact that 60 percent of high school students with mental illness don't graduate.” Mental health is a serious topic that should be addressed more in schools so kids can get the help they need to avoid falling behind and becoming one of those students who don’t graduate over something they have no control over.
COVID-19 Continues to Upsurge
By Ramir Wearen
As the pandemic continues we constantly hear of new variants and immunizations forming. In March of 2021 another strain called ‘Delta Variant’ was first identified in the United States according to nytimes.com, and as of December first of last year a new variant broke in the US called Omicron. Since then, every week, thousands of cases in the US are reported each day whether it’s Omicron, Delta Variant or the first strain of COVID-19. This has impacted schools heavily even in the last few weeks and there's been a major growth infection rate in teens, youth and teachers.
So much has come with this pandemic and virus over the past few years, deaths of family members, virtual schooling which most students didn't do great in which also resulted in them earning lower grades, grade point averages and lack of understanding curriculum. As of 2022, early-on RCSD closed a great number of schools for about a week due to a bus driver shortage, teacher and substitute shortage which in most cases was due to staff being infected with the virus or having come into contact with those who had been infected.
It is very important that we take the necessary precautions to keep each other safe, especially coming into the New Year. There are many ways that everyone can prevent these viruses spreading within the people who you are around. It's very important to wash your hands, wear your mask, even be aware of taking your mask off in schools when eating in classrooms which is not recommended, lunchrooms etc. According to cdc.gov,”Besides modifying the physical space, schools can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during meal service by: Maintaining physical distance between students when picking up meals and when eating. ... Ensuring proper handwashing or use of hand sanitizer before and after eating. Staggering mealtimes for class cohorts.” This is very important information that everyone should be aware of because these could possibly be reasons behind most exposed cases.
This has been such an ongoing thing there's not a day that’s passed in the news in the last year that there hasn’t been consistent updates on those infected, affected and impacted by COVID-19 and its discovered variants in the US.
Choice vs. Motivation?
By Aryana St. Marthe
Too many students are failing but, is it a choice or due to lack of motivation? It's understandable if students can’t make it to school to do their work but they can just go on google classroom to do the work. Some students are failing due to the lack of motivation. But is failing always a choice? For some people it is and for others it's not, some students just give up and stop caring while others are still trying to figure out how to make up work. Is it possible that staff are wasting their time with the students that aren’t trying while the kids that are aren’t getting all the help they actually need? There are many questions that can’t be answered directly because you never know which students are the ones trying and the ones that aren’t.
I interviewed two people, a student and a social worker so I can get both points of view on “Choice vs Motivation.” During my interview with an East High sophomore, she made it clear that students don’t choose to fail, they choose to give up and that leads to failing because sometimes everything can just be mentally draining. But social worker Ms. Gefell-Wofford wouldn’t use the word choice or motivation; she just believes that everyone has a different reason for everything. I asked the student and social worker “How can students (struggling with mental health) find the motivation to go to school?” The student believed that you have to change your environment and your mindset. She also added that she was still trying to figure it out herself. The social worker said that if you have people around you to support you to help you find it within yourself, but that motivation always comes from within yourself.
School administrators have a spreadsheet to help keep track of who’s on track to graduating and who’s not. I asked Ms. Gefell-Wofford her thoughts about it and she said, “It leads to a meaningful conversation and it helps to intervene.” I believe that the spreadsheet can help students and try to motivate themselves and can talk to social workers and counselors to help them.
To conclude, there are many ways to look at this. You can always believe that everyone has a choice or you can believe that sometimes they don’t have a choice and they just end up in situations and can’t (don’t know how) pull themselves out. Ms. Gefell-Wofford believes that motivation is the hardest thing you can help with because you can’t make no one feel motivated; they have to do that themselves.
Watch for Sasquatch
By Greg Tucker
You´re out on a hike in the great redwood forests of Washington. The air is musty, the dirt is soft and the fungi have invaded the crevices of every decaying log that lays on the ground. You hear a hooting sound, but not like that of an owl. Instead, it sounds like a man comedically imitating an owl. The sound is full, strong, mighty and it surrounds you to the point of disorientation. You hear knocking, banging and tortured screams from within the trees. You now hear rustling, and as you look up to see the sun´s rays break through the canopy, he appears. Tall, brooding and hairy, it can't possibly be anyone other than the infamous Bigfoot.
The mythological creature, Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is said to roam the forests of North America. However, Bigfoot seems to like making appearances in the Pacific Northwest where he is frequently reported to this day. First mentioned in the legends of Native Americans of the area as se'sxa and other variants of the name, Bigfoot has been contemporarily reported since the 16th century and is described as a hairy man/ape-like creature who stands between 6 and 15 feet tall. In the 1920s, miners in the area reported seeing the creature and claimed to have heard loud ¨wood-knocking¨ noises, banging, rocks being thrown, all behaviors found in other primate species.
Some suggest that Sasquatches are a lost sub-group of primates that reside in North America. With that said, there isn't much evidence to prove so as Sasquatch as legit bones, fossils and fur have not yet been found. Many forms of evidence such as eyewitness testimony, low-quality film and photos as well as audio recordings are often written off as hoaxes; the two semi credible sources of evidence are the Sierra Sounds (zoologists have no clue of what creature could possibly make those noises) and the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film. This lack of physical evidence prompts many to believe that Sasquatches are creatures that exist beyond our physical realm and come into and leave ours as they please.
No matter the case, Bigfoot is a creature that all Americans have heard about and is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent American legends.