Hanging on by a thread: Students and teachers struggle to push through to the end of the year

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Anna Thorne

Rachel Hart, Spanish teacher at PV, is one of many in the district feeling distraught and overwhelmed as she approaches the end of this challenging school year.

Anna Thorne, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Education, for both students and teachers, comes with its challenges. Assignments, projects, tests and various other activities require lots of work and motivation. When the world is incapacitated by a pandemic and schools are greatly affected, getting to the end of the year can feel like a game of catch-up.

At Pleasant Valley, this year started off in a hybrid model. Although many were grateful for the opportunity to attend school as normal as possible, the learning model did not allow for a majority of the classes to keep up with a normal learning schedule. As the district is now back to school fully in-person, the community as a whole is working to make up for lost time. 

Many have found living through a global pandemic to be exhausting, especially students and teachers. Many found that it was difficult for students to learn and for teachers to develop curriculums. 

Mental fatigue is not uncommon among students as well as teachers, especially when facing the repercussions created due to COVID-19. Lack of activities, schedule changes and health concerns have led many to feel significantly more overwhelmed. 

Spanish teacher Rachel Hart has felt countless emotions throughout this school year. Her compassion for her students and her profession has allowed her to be successful through the countless format changes. But with the ever changing circumstances of the pandemic, she has noticed a shift in both herself and others.

“I have experienced quite a bit of stress, and I am sure I speak for many others as well. There were a lot of changes and adjustments this year that teachers and students have had to overcome — schedules, courses, workload, etc. — which has stressed many of us, students and teachers alike, out,” Hart explained. “For me, my stress was especially prevalent at the beginning of the school year and when we switched to 100 percent in-person.”

For educators, the difficulties presented during the end of the 2019-2020 school year and the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year have been a huge burden to carry. On top of being in charge of scheduling and lesson planning for countless educational changes, the weight of their students’ mental health also falls on them.

The decline in motivation of countless students has been largely due to the aforementioned mental fatigue, and teachers such as Hart feel immense compassion and empathy for their students as they push through the remainder of this year.

“We are so close to finishing up the school year, and I am confident that we will all finish strong. I am very proud of my students and the work that they have completed in the past year,” reflected Hart.

Although PV has been able to be partially or fully in-person all year, students have still felt overwhelmed in the face of adversity.

Junior Will Fairman is a very involved student: participating in a multitude of extracurriculars as well as putting forth great effort into his studies. As he has been preparing for the ACT, AP tests, extracurricular activities and dealing with the stress of junior year — all while in a pandemic — he has noticed a shift in his motivation.

“This year has been a roller coaster to say the least. Like many other students, I’ve had to attend school online, in hybrid and completely in-person. The amount of work and, consequently, my work ethic have changed dramatically multiple times throughout the year,” Fairman explained. “Now is especially stressful. My AP tests are nearing and many of my extracurriculars are reaching a peak in terms of their workloads.”

As a result of having to adapt to drastic shifts in the education system, students have dealt with major stressors and had to shift their own personal expectations as well. This has left students feeling a little unprepared and fatigued.

“I am pretty exhausted. Before this year, people had always told me that junior year would be the hardest. I never understood the gravity of that statement until we went back to 100 percent in-school last February,” Fairman commented. “This year has definitely provided me and many other juniors with a challenge that constantly leaves us fatigued and overwhelmed.”

Whether it be through the eyes of a student or an educator, this year has created its challenges. Burnout, lack of motivation and significant modifications have provided an interesting year for those in the education system, but as this year continues to progress, pushing through to the end is a common goal.