You can’t see them smiling beneath the masks, but students at Wenatchee and Eastmont high schools are glad to be back in school, even if it’s only part-time.
Eastmont high students have been back since Jan. 25 and Wenatchee high students since Jan. 26, each on a different hybrid schedule.
“It is amazing the level of energy in the building, having adults interacting with kids but also the conversations of adults to adults,” said Wenatchee Principal Eric Anderson. “You get kids back in the building, you get a lot of smiles even with masks on. You can tell people are happy.”
For Eastmont Principal Lance Noell, it was like walking into a dark room and turning on the light. “Completely rejuvenating. We are recharged. We feel like we’re educators again. It has been spectacular,” Noell said.
The social-emotional impact of being back in school has had a “massive impact” on students, Noell said. He feels like the students have been pretty honest with him.
“The stories I hear from them are dark. It’s disturbing and scary,” Noell said. “The fact they are talking to me about that is significant. It’s not just me. You know that is happening with staff all over the building because it is all about relationships all over the building.”
Noell said he can see it in their effort. These were students who were not engaged, but when brought onto campus, the change is immediate.
“When have you ever in your life just snapped your fingers and seen change? But that is what has happened with these students. You see that with these students. Automatic transformation,” Noell said. “I will say the damage is extensive. When we talk about social-emotional damage. We will be dealing with these scars for many years.”
Anderson feels Wenatchee students are far better off being in school from a social-emotional standpoint. The one big advantage of the AM-PM schedule is the daily contact with students.