After the first semester of the 2020-21 school year ended in January, La Porte High School (LPHS) early graduate seniors have started to embrace the next chapter of their lives.
COVID-19 has taken a toll on various aspects of life, with school being one of them. This year, many seniors decided to graduate early because of the pandemic.
“I only needed two more credits to graduate. I didn’t want to risk mine or my family’s health by continuing to go to school in person. I switched to online schooling around October. I was starting to get really tired mentally and physically since I have worked incredibly hard for all four years at school. I knew I needed the break that graduating January 15 would give me until I start college in the fall,” said senior Alli Glen.
The pandemic played a part in many students’ graduation decisions with some students choosing early graduation for their own personal reasons.
“I just wanted to start working as soon as possible at a union job,” said senior Jagger Eapmon.
LPHS takes many steps to assist students interested in graduating early. Counselors help students with this process as they figure out the amount of credits needed, build schedules around the students’ needs, and more.
Graduating early is the perfect experience for students who are unsure of what they want to do next.
This year, the elementary school specials in the LaPorte Community School Corporation have been taking precautions to keep students safe from COVID-19 while still allowing them to experience fun and interactive activities.
Jim Pedretti, P.E. teacher at Kingsbury Elementary School and Riley Elementary School, has been teaching gym throughout the pandemic with all the same, fun aspects while also enabling precautions.
Pedretti gives his students hand sanitizer as soon as they walk in and out of the gym as well as using six-foot markers for social distancing. Masks are worn throughout the entire class, and all equipment is sanitized and rotated every 10-15 minutes.
Lesson planning is more difficult this year and some lessons have been changed, but there are few lessons that are the same as before COVID-19. Pedretti has had significant participation from all of his students, and they are doing a great job with all the new precautions.
“I’m so glad we haven’t had much time in the ‘red’ zone. I’m thankful we had many weeks in our ‘yellow’ and ‘blue’ zones earlier in the year, until October. The kids miss the fun and socializing that school gives them, as well as better academics, of course,” Pedretti said.
Connie Kaminski, art teacher at Hailmann Elementary School and Kingsford Heights Elementary School, has kept art fun for all of her students.
The biggest change for art classes this year is that the students can no longer share art supplies. Every time a student uses a marker or paint brush, it gets sanitized immediately. After each class, all tables are cleaned and readied for the next class.
Lesson plans are harder to create when school is completely virtual since students might not own art supplies at their house, but Kaminski has adapted lessons so that the students can use pencils and crayons.
“I think the students have done a remarkable job adapting to the changes this school year, and they are doing a great job wearing their masks at school. Huskies and Tigers have shared and created some amazing art,” Kaminski said.
Even during a pandemic, the elementary school specials teachers still do their best to ensure fun and long-lasting lessons for all of their students.
Sophomore Samantha Combs has always been passionate about crocheting and remembers playing with crochet hooks when she was young. Recently, Combs has taken her unique interest and transformed it into a business.
Combs first started crocheting when she was in fourth grade with help from her grandmother. She started small with washcloths, but now, she creates elaborate, intricate blankets with ease.
Creating these masterpieces has allowed her to create deeper bonds with her friends and family. Combs often gifts her crocheted products to loved ones to celebrate holidays and birthdays, which leaves a personalized touch with every stitch.
Even though crocheting may not seem like a typical activity for teenagers, Combs has found a way to integrate crocheting with her daily life. While watching Netflix, she finds herself creating washcloths and even crochets when she hangs out with her friends.
“Sometimes, crocheting really brings out my inner old lady, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Combs said.
LPHS is honored to have students with such unique and helpful interests, just like Combs.