Steinbach student shares life lessons from return to school during the ‘temporary new normal’

By | September 7, 2020

Steinbach high school student Ayesha Badiola is journaling the first weeks of her return to school in the southern Manitoba city during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahead of the start of classes in the province on Sept. 8, here is her first entry.

The start of an unorthodox school year is days away and I have mixed feelings about it. Questions fog up my head as my sophomore year nears. 

Rural Manitoba’s largest high school, Steinbach Regional Secondary School, houses more than 1,700 staff and students on a normal school day. The overflowing number of bodies, and the amount of traffic in the halls and handshakes as I pass by — forget about it.

The change will be drastic and noticeable. Gone are the days of gathering after school to make plans and patiently waiting for the person in front to walk faster. 

There are advantages to having fewer people in the building. Less traffic, more one-on-one time with teachers and extra personal space, as there will be only five to 15 students in each class. 

My appreciation for people has grown in the past six months. With school back, I can finally socialize with people who I hadn’t seen during summer — with distancing measures included, of course. 

But when there’s a pro, there’s most likely a con.

I understand the reasoning.… It’s logical, but saddening.– Ayesha Badiola

Students are assigned a track based on their last name. Weeks will consist of alternating between in-class and home learning. This means that I won’t be seeing half of my friends for at least one semester! I understand the reasoning behind this decision. It’s logical, but saddening.

To ensure the least amount of contact mixed throughout the building, students will have two classes, each lasting two-and-a-half hours.

I wonder how I will deal with an extended math period. Only time will tell …

On the days that we’ll be working from home, teachers will assign three-and-a-half hours worth of homework for each class. 

The worries of student athletes

Pandemic challenges affect both athletic students and the scouts who seek them out.

While the status of club volleyball is still unknown, recruiting top players will be difficult. Without games, scouts will be unable to attend games to search for potential prospects. The status of national tournaments is still unknown — which might take away the stage for students to showcase their potential.

‘Everybody’s health and being able to get back to normal living is important,’ says high school student and volleyball player Kade Lepp. (Submitted by Kade Lepp)

Kade Lepp, a senior from Steinbach Christian School, plays volleyball for Providence University’s Junior Pilots team.

“This was my year, my season. I was trying to go for all-star awards this year, so it was just really tough hearing that,” Lepp said. 

Despite the disappointment, Lepp said his biggest concern is the health and safety of everyone. 

“I understand this year why the cancellations have been made. Everybody’s health and being able to get back to normal living is important,” Lepp said.

Clientless esthetics training

Steinbach Regional offers more than 10 vocational subjects for students in grades 10 to 12 to major in, and many involve client work. Grade 12 esthetics student Jaida Letkeman says she will not be experiencing it this year. 

“We started bringing in clients in September of our Grade 11 year, and it really brought the major to life for me,” Letkeman recalled. “Getting to make them feel good about themselves, hearing their thoughts on what was happening in the world around us, and what they are doing in their own personal lives was very impacting for me.”

Jaida Letkeman doesn’t know if her vocational esthetics work placement will continue in her Grade 12 year. (Submitted by Jaida Letkeman)

There are practical hours and government exams that need to be completed to become a licensed technician, so 2020 graduates were unable to become licensed estheticians on time. We don’t know what the future holds, but this year’s students might be in a similar situation.

When the pandemic struck, students had to adapt to change quickly. If the province decides to turn to full-time online learning again, students will be performing services on family members and doing theory-based assignments.

While this year is rather unconventional, it’ll be one for the books.– Ayesha Badiola

Despite the uncertainties, Letkeman says she’ll cherish every moment in the salon.

“I am so grateful for teachers, the community, and the experiences that the esthetics major has brought me and how they continue to encourage and lift one another up during these times,” Letkeman said.

“I am confident that my senior year will still be amazing. After all, we are all in this together and it will surely be one to remember.”

Buckle up, students …

It’s going to be a wild ride.

Join me on a month-long journey of experiencing the temporary new normal. While this year is rather unconventional, it’ll be one for the books.

Stay safe, make the most out of the moment and I’ll see you on the next one!

This column is part of  CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.

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