Kent-Meridian High School students share their experience being back in person as the school year comes to a close.
by Marian Mohamed
At first, many Kent-Meridian High School students were anxious about returning to in-person learning. Now, they’ve come to terms with their new reality as the school year comes to a close.
A sick-out protest conducted by the Kent-Meridian Civil Rights Group on January 29, 2022, was organized to challenge the lack of COVID-19 safety measures set in place. A social media post with listed demands circulated among KM students and families on Instagram. What was supposed to be a united student body that would push for necessary safety measures didn’t meet the expectations of the Civil Rights Group.
“We had to act fast,” said Layla Yared, a senior and co-president of the KM Civil Rights Group. “We did have to miss out on the fact that we didn’t have a lot of students; it was for the safety of the students.”
Abby Sanchez was unable to participate in the sick-out because final exams landed on the same day as the sick-out.
“I agree with the protest but I think they picked the wrong day,” said Sanchez.
Remote learning was difficult for Sanchez, as it created a barrier when socializing with her classmates, and she expressed her relief when Kent-Meridian announced it would be returning to in-person learning for the 2021–2022 school year.
For students like Sione Cruz, a member of the KM Civil Rights Group, it’s become an obstacle to focus in class.
“I’m used to reading people’s lips when they talk, and it’s been a real struggle for me, especially now,” said Cruz.
Months after the protests, KM students have, in a way, accepted their environment. In multiple interview conversations, students have confirmed feeling safer in classrooms and interacting with each other, although there’s been an air of panic among students who’ve never had the high school experience.
“When I found out that we were coming back, I was like, I’m not ready for this. I haven’t even had a middle school experience,” said Clair Eaton, a freshmen at Kent-Meridian.
Eaton, who spent most of her seventh and eighth grade in remote learning, felt as though high school events, such as homecomings and football games, don’t live up to the expectations many students entering high school are told about.
To offer a space for students to de-stress and interact with other students, Kent-Meridian’s Leadership class hosted that exact space for students. The self-care week went from April 19 to April 22, 2022. Activities such as crafting necklaces and bracelets, making art, and even entering a raffle for a prize took place.
“It’s a safe space for people to interact, meet new people, and just a safe place for everyone,” said Layla Abdiali.
Marian Mohamed pledged her work to report the news of the underrepresented since entering the world of journalism. She’s worked with publications such as KUOW and the International Examiner while currently studying Journalism and Public Interest at the University of Washington.
📸 Featured Image: Out of the 2,000 students who attend Kent-Meridian High School, the lunchroom rarely shows that, with vacant spots at each table on April 29, 2022. (Photo: Marian Mohamed)
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