Meadowdale High School faculty and staff returned to campus briefly Friday to celebrate the Class of 2021 seniors, one year to the day schools were directed to close their doors to in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers, students and staff from Meadowdale High lined the front of the school as students drove past for the school’s Gowns and Gauntlet event for students to order their graduation caps and gowns. To make the day a little sweet, faculty and staff — who organized the event — handed out moon pies to coincide the event with Pi Day on March 14.
“We wanted to do this as early as we possibly could to give them a ‘shot in the arm’ to get through the rest of the school year,” said Principal Dave Shockley.
“They wanted it to be more than just passing out caps and gowns — they wanted it to be a celebration of seniors,” said senior Sierra Moll.
Students also received Class of 2021 yard signs so community members know they are a Meadowdale High senior.
Students have been learning remotely since the end of the 2019-20 school year. For some, learning from home has been a struggle. However, senior Tyler Suter said there are some benefits to remote learning.
“For me personally, it’s less stressful because i don’t have as much to work on,” he said. “Another benefit for online learning is it lets students work at their own pace.”
Senior Farrah Padilla said remote learning has been challenging for her because she enjoys being involved in her class and misses the experience of learning in a classroom with her peers. However, Padilla and her classmates have found ways to continue to stay involved.
Last year, Padilla and Moll co-founded a social justice and activism club that has held a donation drive last summer to raise masks and hand sanitizer.
“That was a really great way for our club to stay connected,” Padilla said.
Remote learning has also been a struggle for students enrolled in extracurricular activities. Suter — who is involved in chamber orchestra and jazz band — has been practicing instruments online rather than in-person.
“It’s not like I can play in front of other students and hear how I’m getting better with them so it takes extra effort to get up and start playing,” he said.
Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will sign an executive order stating school district’s must offer K-12 students in-person learning by April 19. With the prospect of returning to classrooms a reality, students said they would without a doubt return.
For senior Samson Samuel, it would be his first time going to any school in America and he would like to attend in-person classes to make friends. Samuel is from Eritrea, a small country in east Africa, and was here on vacation last year when the pandemic hit and he and his family have been unable to return. Now, Samuel and his two younger siblings are enrolled in the Edmonds School District until they can return home.
“I’ve actually never been to any of the (in-person) classes at the school, so it would definitely be an experience to meet new people and make a couple friends,” he said.
—Story and photos by Cody Sexton