GNA students, staff work to make school year a success

GNA+School+District+tackles+a+pandemic+school+year.+%28Photo+by+Emily+Cullen%29

GNA School District tackles a pandemic school year. (Photo by Emily Cullen)

Sophia Tattersall, Student Writer

GNA CAMPUS – The Greater Nanticoke School District officially welcomed back all high school students five days a week on April 19th. Previously, the Educational Center returned April 6th, while the Kennedy Early Childhood Center and GNA Elementary Center returned to a five-day-a-week schedule on March 22nd.

In February, the school district began reopening in hybrid mode. Before that, learning was strictly virtual since late fall.

Though the Covid-19 pandemic has brought many unwelcomed challenges to students and staff alike, at Greater Nanticoke Area, we have embraced that challenge and have sought to focus on the notion that without challenge, there is no achievement.

Attending school amidst a pandemic is nearly unprecedented. Never in our lifetime could we have imagined what that would entail. Never could we have imagined what we would have to endure. Yet, never could we have imagined what we could accomplish.

Some would say that learning was reduced when we were forced into virtual mode, but that would truly depend on who you ask. Ask Daniel Shevchenko, a senior at GNA, if learning stopped when we went virtual. With a demanding schedule of classes that include AP Computer Science, AP Calculus, AP Literature and English Composition, AP Statistics, Physics Honors, Spanish V – Independent study, and French, there was no time off. In fact, many of us were forced to work smarter and harder. We found ways of motivating ourselves to complete schoolwork while remaining safely at home. “In spite of the elevated coursework and general stress of this year, I have been able to maintain my enthusiasm by focusing on the brighter, post-pandemic future – that is, by concentrating on my long-term goals and reminding myself at all points of difficulty that I cannot achieve my aims without overcoming the obstacles of the present. I have also been very lucky to have been able to pursue as courses predominantly those subjects which interest me intellectually even beyond schoolwork, making it much simpler to maintain high morale and curiosity in this unusual time,” Daniel explained.

As students, we found that online and hybrid learning brought about another dimension in ourselves that we did not know existed. Instead of relying on the teacher to answer every single question we had, the teacher would give us the material and allow us to explore on our own. This taught us how to do independent research. It also taught us how to be self-disciplined, self-motivated, and self-aware. Kayla Eckrote, a senior, stated, “Despite all of the hardships presented by the pandemic, I have managed to stay motivated throughout this school year because of my personal goals of maintaining my G.P.A and attending college in the fall. It is undeniable that virtual learning has placed a strain on both students and teachers this year; however, I believe it to be the responsibility of each student to strive for academic success and excel in life, and it is this mentality that has caused me to pursue my objectives and refuse to give up in spite of all the difficulties presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Our teachers transformed their daily lessons to a more hands-on approach, guiding us when we needed guidance, answering the tough questions when we couldn’t find the answers ourselves, and encouraging us when we doubted ourselves.

While many debated whether or not we should be back in school, we focused on our academics and left questions of safety to the experts. Before we physically returned to school, we got a taste of what college life may be like by nature of virtual learning because circumstances forced us to become independent learners which is essential for success in post-secondary education. Our teachers would set assignment dates and hold virtual meetings. They would expect us to attend virtual discussions on Zoom or Google Meet, and we had the opportunity to even schedule our own meetings based on our individual needs. Virtual learning gave us the freedom to make our own schedules; however, we had to have enough self-discipline to turn our assignments in on time. We had to be prepared for scheduled online meetings and discussions and though we were not physically in school, we were virtually engaged.

When the administration suggested it was safe to return to school physically, the maintenance department, cleaning staff, and cafeteria workers went to immeasurable lengths to ensure the school and its students were safe.

There has never been a school year quite like this one. Despite the frustration brought about by the pandemic, GNA students and staff persevered and did all we could to maintain a sense of normalcy. With the help of dedicated administrators, teachers, staff members, and students, Greater Nanticoke Area was able to host many academic and athletic events that are typically held in a given school year. Homecoming, class elections, Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (P.J.A.S) were all held. Dual enrollment courses and advanced placement classes challenged students as usual. All athletic programs competed and hosted a senior night for all sports to honor dedicated seniors. Keystone Exams are happening. An Honor Society ceremony will occur as will prom, the senior class trip, awards day, and numerous other end of the year events. The 2020-2021 academic school year will culminate with a graduation ceremony on June 11 honoring all those who have worked so hard to attain a diploma.

As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, we are reminded of the many challenges we overcame to make this year a success. We are reminded that life isn’t always easy, but despite what happens, there are always two choices – become frustrated or become motivated. At GNA, we became motivated, and that Trojan Spirit once again shined through.