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Students feel sting of missing out on traditions, rites of passage

Updated March 16, 2021 - 3:42 pm

The rites of passage are passing them by.

This is what it feels like for plenty of students across the valley who’ve had to deal with the loss of homecoming, school dances, extracurricular activities and more as classrooms have been closed because of the coronavirus.

“It’s really hard to see everything that I’ve tried to build up since I was a freshman just taken away,” says Alexandria Lash, senior class president at Sierra Vista High School. “All the things that we’ve seen from previous years and what we’re excited for has just been taken away.”

As adults wrangle with pandemic fatigue, their kids — and their teachers — are doing the same as they navigate the ins and outs of distance learning.

“Kids and teachers — all educators — they’re on different spectrums as far as their fatigue,” says John Anzalone, Sierra Vista High School principal. “I think some hit it a lot earlier. Everybody has kind of a different threshold as to when they were just kind of done with this.

“Every kid is different,” he adds. “Some kids are thriving on distance education and they wouldn’t want to change this for the world; some kids are suffering tremendously, academically, socially, emotionally and in other ways.”

Dr. Ann Childress, a Vegas-based psychiatrist and member of the Nevada Psychiatric Association, has seen this firsthand with her clients.

“Kids that had been doing well in the past are not doing so well right now,” Childress says. “Out of 100 kids I see, I’d probably only say that three or four are actually doing well with the virtual online schooling.

“For a lot of folks, this pandemic, with the virtual schooling and the parents trying to work from home and turning into full-time teachers, has been a real challenge.”

Gray Crampton, listing manager at Crampton Real Estate team and a father of two boys, had hoped that his sons would return to the classroom when the current school year began.

“That was kind of disappointing,” he says of Clark County School District’s decision to continue with distance learning. “As we got into the beginning of September and school, I think we started to get kind of fatigued about it. ‘When is this going to start getting better?’ We just kind of looked forward with a sense of hope that this was going to be over sooner than later.”

His 13-year-old son Chase, a seventh grader at Bob Miller Middle School, has missed being in the classroom but has compensated in other ways.

“I was still able to play with my friends online and stuff,” he says. “That definitely helped.”

While some elementary school students have resumed in-person education a few days a week, it remains to be seen when other grades will follow suit.

“It definitely sucks not knowing what will happen when we go back — if we go back — and how we’re going to overcome that,” says Lash of Sierra Vista High School. “I know that I won’t be able to have the same kind of schedule that I’ve had before or be able to talk and hang out with my peers. I know that everything is going to be socially distanced and masks are going to be mandated.

“All you can do is look at the positive right now,” she says. “I don’t want to dwell on what I might not have any more; it’s more of what I can do to make things better for the future.”

Principal Anzalone says he’s still striving to provide students with some measure of normalcy, including the return of spring sports.

“I’ve been constantly communicating with our students weekly,” he says, “letting them know that, ‘I haven’t forgotten about you. I haven’t forgot about activities, about the fact that we want to give you some semblance of a senior year.’

“As things open more, we’re still planning on trying to do some activities, including graduation,” he says. “If we can do a prom, it’s going to be a very different type of prom, more of a social with very, very small groups.”

For Sierra Vista High School Senior Body President Macey Beck, it’s all about controlling what she can during an out-of-control year.

“The thing I try to keep in mind is that I’m able to control my reactions,” she says. “I can choose if I’m going to sit here and be annoyed forever that this is what my senior year is, or I can just try to make the best of it. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter and @jbracelin76 on Instagram.

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