“I Feel I Can’t Connect”: Ukiah High Wildcats Reflect on Distance Learning


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By Damien Amaya

Despite quarantine being established to protect the community from COVID-19, many Ukiah High students have started to experience the mental toll of distance learning feeling frustrated, anxious, and developing depression. Most students pointed towards the lack of socialization and stimulation as the root of this growing issue.

The National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI) states that humans are innately social. The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that loneliness can cause mental and physical health risks comparable to obesity, smoking, and drinking. What could this mean for students missing socialization and activities that UHS provided?

Many students have felt that their hobbies have been stripped from them. For example, Gavin Seng said, ¨Both my coping mechanisms: football and socialization have been taken away.¨ Gavin feels as though students do not have the easy opportunity to talk to friends anymore, to hear their voices: ¨I miss people and I haven’t found anything that helps other than actually talking. I only speak to one person now.¨ 

Sports and clubs at UHS have been a mainstay in student socialization and stimulations that has also, in general, come to a halt. Celena Linares is a club president of three different Ukiah High clubs, including the Improv and Poetry club. She expressed the difficulty of recruiting or doing anything at all through a screen. Linares loves swimming and playing tennis, although since sports are being pushed to spring, she is disappointed she has to choose only one. She said, ¨ I’m president of three now inactive clubs because they have to be in person. I can’t play my two sports. I can’t see multiple people a day. I spend my break, lunch, and after school in bed alone.¨ 

Along with social lives suffering, some students are worried about their academic life. One student, Serenity Gravlee, feels it is extremely hard to do schooling through a screen. When asked how she felt she responded with, ¨I feel I can’t connect with the teachers as much and it’s a lot harder to focus. Not being able to see the teachers face to face makes it really hard to learn for me because I´m a hands-on learner.” 

UHS Staff is also experiencing the challenges of distance learning. Ezra Post, a Spanish teacher for 18 years, feels it is hard to get to know students through the distance. He genuinely would like to get to know his students better and is worried about how we will reach out to his more shy students who may need help. Despite these distances, Post says, “I still see my students smiling and laughing. It reminds me of why I enjoy teaching.¨ 

Another teacher who misses learning about her students is Patty Halpin. She teaches biology and misses learning about her students and feels projects about students’ personality is important early on in the school year. Halpin said she would like to see students at their desks since she feels the distance affects students’ education.

Jacob Bainbridge, a social and emotional counselor, states that he is getting double the amount of students seeking help he usually does and expects more and more students to be coming for help. He thinks without a doubt quarantine is taking a toll on mental health. Bainbridge provided some advice for Wildcats seeking stimulations and socialization at this time: 

 ¨Reach out. Talk to your friends, family, or counselor. Letting it out and not trying to struggle alone is a huge first step. If you don’t want to talk with friends or family for whatever reason, come to a Social-Emotional counselor. It’s what we do and we want to help. Other tips:

1. Exercise – You may not want to but exercise gets the endorphins going. Exercise is a natural antidepressant.

2. Get outside – Sunlight provides you with Vitamin D another natural antidepressant in your body

3. Accomplish small goals – I like to start with just making the bed. It takes 2 minutes and it starts your day off with something you’ve already completed. Getting wins early helps.

4. Do things you enjoy – Find time for those things you do that are easy. Whether it’s reading, painting, Netflix, Tik Tok if it brings a smile to your face do it. The fancy term for that is self-care.¨

Damien Amaya
Damien Amaya
Interested in controversial topics Like educational subjects Total Geek

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