A 2020 Takeaway

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  • Student Voices
Stephanie Trautman, Middle School English Department Chair
I teach eighth grade and when I tell people this, it’s usually met with a comment such as “Oh, bless you!” or “I could never do that!” I’m going to let you in on a little secret though: I love eighth-graders. They’re fun, intelligent, want to be heard, and are just figuring out where they fit in this world. One of my favorite parts of teaching eighth-graders is advising them. The role of an advisor is one I take seriously and a role I cherish.
 
As we embarked on our last day before the holiday break, my advisees and I discussed what we were most looking forward to with the impending break. Everyone had fun things to share, despite not being able to do regular activities because of Covid. After this round of sharing, I asked my advisees what they’d miss most while away from school. The answer was the same for every student in the advisory: they’d miss school.
 
I stopped dead in my tracks. I’d miss school too, as it was bringing a sense of normalcy in my life when normalcy felt lost. But let’s be real: did we (as parents or educators) ever think our students would say they were going to miss school?
 
This pandemic has reframed the way not only teachers, but also students, view school and what it provides. Any sense of normalcy has brought clarity for so many students who are fortunate enough to be in a face-to-face learning environment. The importance of school has been amplified and when we think about school we can appreciate that it is far more than a place where students learn academics, create art, or play sports.
 
School has become our connection to an important community and a safe space for students during the pandemic. It always provided a social fabric, but now it is significantly magnified. Affirmed are the rituals and structure so many yearn for, and now is recognized by many of the students. Many eighth-grade students will say that they feel unheard. They deserve to have a voice because when you listen to them, you realize they provide important insight and reflection. Students express how much school means to them, connects them with their friends, and allows them to feel “normal”. They missed school.
 
I hope that as we move forward, students remember how much they appreciated school during this time and resolve to not take school for granted. I know I won’t.
 
Detroit Country Day School is a private, independent, co-educational, non-denominational, preschool through grade 12 college preparatory school in Michigan focused on a well-rounded liberal arts education. Emphasis on academics, arts, athletics, and character development is prevalent across the curriculum. The school admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students in the school. To learn more visit www.dcds.edu.
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