A rough start

SHS community is struggling to adapt to in-person school


Maybe it’s the fact that students haven’t been in school regularly in two years. Or the change in pace with in-person education. The 90-minute classes? The pandemic mindset?
Or perhaps it’s the devious licks.
Whatever the reason, coming back to school in 2021 has been different and even difficult for many of the students and staff at SHS. With items being stolen and bathrooms being vandalized, it’s apparent that students are struggling.
Since the beginning of the school year, there have been a number of events happening on campus: fighting, blatant skipping and destruction of school property.
Some teachers and administrators say that while they might not be shocked with the events occurring, they are surprised with how long it’s been going on.
While it was expected that students would be behind academically, many did not anticipate how behind students would be socially.
“The big buzz word was ‘learning loss,’” said assistant principal Amy Boone. “The piece that was unexpected was the… social and emotional gap of learning that happened in the 18 months of not being in school.”
Freshman Fletcher Wisdom agrees that this year is more difficult than others in some aspects.
They said that overall returning to school has been easier for them, but as a school SHS has been struggling to get back on track with regular schooling.
One of the unanticipated problems administration is having to deal with is an increase in students skipping classes. Because of this, teachers have to take time out of their teaching to monitor hallways and verify that there aren’t students roaming the halls.
“Kids are not getting to class on time,” assistant principal Joe Horvath said. “It’s like bells don’t exist.”
According to Boone, there have been 13,626 tardies given out during the first quarter of this year. This is about 3,000 more than the first quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.
Chemistry teacher John Davis said he spends a lot of time in between, and even during his classes out in the hallway.
Davis said that he had become habitually conditioned to go find a restroom to look through once a bell rang because many times he would catch students in the restrooms skipping class.
Another thing administrators have seen an increase in is stealing and/or breaking things around the school. Principal Brian Knight and Davis agree that there is a social media influence present while these students are vandalizing.
“I think the big issue is that ‘devious licks’ stuff,” Davis said. “And it’s not stopping here, apparently it’s everywhere.”
Other staff members including custodial worker Tracy Jackson, who has been working at SHS since July, doesn’t understand the “devious licks” stealing trend circulating the internet.
“It’s just not smart,” Jackson said. “You’re incriminating yourself, on top of destruction of school property.”
However, many students involved don’t see the stealing as harmful to the school, mostly because of the items they’re taking.
The Journal interviewed a junior who stole a clothing hanger and a senior who took a “No smoking” sign that had fallen in front of the school.
That same junior said that part of the reason they stole something was because it wasn’t something they thought had a huge effect on the school.
Both of these students say they felt that they took something that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and that was a major part of their decision.
One of the students also said they did it because they thought it would be funny. However, they said they weren’t seeking attention from anyone in particular, it just began as an inside joke between them and their friend.
“Technically, yes, I am aware that I have school property,” they said. “I don’t really like calling it ‘stealing’ because it sounds very incriminating.”
In addition to a change in students’ behavior, there’s a difference between grades, for better or for worse.
Guidance counselor Margaret Tidrow thinks this year has been better for students academically. Since students have been back in school full-time, she’s seen better grades in many students.
“We still have students who are struggling to get into the groove,” Tidrow said. “Overall, I think the grades have gone up quite a bit.”
However, Wisdom and other students believe that this year is harder academically than previous years.
“Everything that I’m being taught I already know,” they said. “I’m not really learning anything new, which feels weird, but I’m definitely learning more than I did last year.”
Sophomore Addison Meredith also feels a struggle this year that he hasn’t before. He agrees that the pace of learning is faster and might not be all new information. Meredith stated that teachers have sped up their instruction and he may not be absorbing everything being taught.
Not wanting to make any assumptions about why the behavior changes are happening, Horvath thinks the academic side of school may have an effect.
“I think there is just so much stress that is being placed on students, teachers, just society in general,” Horvath said. “A lot of that stress is now being manifested at school. It’s just not something that we’ve ever seen.”
Currently, to increase the school’s assurance on the situation, Horvath and others have been watching cameras more. If they receive an email or a referral from someone, they’ll look at the camera’s footage from when it was sent and connect a student’s name to their face.
“I think they’re trying the best they can right now,” Tidrow said, referring to SHS administrators. “Having teachers be more involved in the hallways, I think that will help decrease the amount of incidents that we have in the bathrooms.”
With the amount of students skipping classes, SHS is continuing to use attendance contracts. An attendance contract is issued when a student has a certain amount of tardies.
These contracts have differing stipulations depending on the student, but it is a progressive way of ensuring students make it to class on time.
For example, someone’s contract may say that if they have another tardy it could result in in-school suspension during iPass. After that, the second offense may be ISS all day and the third may be out-of-

Tardies for the first quarters of the 2019-20 and 2021-22 school years.
school suspension.
This can go on until the student might be considered for expulsion or a transfer to the Cardinal Academy, the full-time PLATO (online) program used at SHS.
This year has been hard for many people, whether it be students’ academics, the responsibilities of administrators and teachers or the emotional setback a lot of people face.
Boone said some new things she’s seen this year include different behavior in the cafeteria. She’s seen students chasing each other around the cafeteria and even throwing water bottles at each other.
“Their last normal school year was two years ago,” Tidrow said. “They haven’t had that structure they need to know exactly how to behave in school.”
With students not having a normal school year since 2019, SHS administrators are planning to record guidance videos to present to students. These are just to help have guidelines set in place and to help everyone.
“Kids are starting to get into the flow of school and understanding and getting into a routine,” Finkhouse said.