SACRAMENTO, Calif. — San Juan High School senior Paris Burney led her team in scoring and emerged as a standout player on the girl’s varsity basketball team last season. She was looking forward to returning this season and enshrining her name on her high school’s gym walls, in Citrus Heights, Calif.
She won’t get that chance.
“I honestly feel like I was robbed of my senior season and I don’t think the right people care enough to do anything about it,” said Burney.
As students wind down to the remaining weeks of the school year, seniors are feeling indifferent about the virtual experience. A survey earlier this year of 169 students in the region — most of them Black and Latino — showed a majority had higher feelings of anxiety during distance learning. Most also reported that their grades dropped this academic year.
The loss of extracurricular activities and school programs that have helped propel students into college has been strenuous for students.
SCUSD Board of Education student member Isa Sheikh will be a first generation college student but felt a lack of support from high school counselors as he prepared for college. He says he has had to rely on his peers or Google for answers on college applications.
“That whole college process was thrown off the tracks. I felt entirely unsupported,” said Sheikh. “There was no office I could walk into, nobody’s door I could knock on to get answers — about how I can apply to colleges.”
Anthony Arguelles is a junior at Mesa Verde High School in the San Juan Unified School District. He says he performed relatively well in the physical classroom.
Since switching to the online learning environment, he told The Sacramento Bee that he’s experienced difficulties adapting to the new learning style and maintaining good grades.
“Everyone thinks it is easy to go back and forth and succeed in this time, but it’s not. It’s hard to stay focused and up to date with everything,” said Arguelles. “It is difficult because of the amount of homework we get compared to how much learning time we are actually getting now.”
Sacramento school districts have adopted a concurrent school schedule allowing students to attend classes both in-person and online.
Sheikh pointed out some concerns over the concurrent model, saying that the approximate three hours on campus may not be enough for those students who find longer in-person hours necessary.
Students are largely indifferent about how the entire school year has gone, while seniors feel they lost one of the most important years of their high school experience.