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Seventeen: A Teenager Reflects On High School During A Pandemic

VaShe' White
Basim Blunt
VaShe' White

Everybody from the governor and surgeon general to principals and school boards have been making decisions about how to do high school during the coronavirus pandemic, but did anybody ask a teenager? In this Dayton Youth Radio story, one local teen shares her perspective.

Hi, my name is VaShe' White. I am a senior at David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. I live with my mom, Shinnea and my brother Kenneth and my sister A'Nayah, who's in the fourth grade. One thing about me is I'm a people person, and I love to laugh. And another thing about me is I hate chocolate, everything from the color to the texture.

I have a love-hate relationship with my school. Before school was closed, I could always be myself and express myself to the fullest in the classroom. But since COVID-19 has come around, school has not been the same, and I don't like it. It makes me miss the good old days.

It was March 10, 2020; no one knew that we would not be back in school for almost a year later. Sometimes I think the teachers and administration don't understand how stressful it is to learn at home. This is not how school is supposed to go at all.

My mom worked first shift. While she's at work, we try to hold down the fort for her. The hardest part about online school with my brother and sister is helping them with their schoolwork while I'm in class trying to do my own schoolwork. All three of us are in different grades in three different schools.

This is some stuff that comes with being a big sister: I wake up at seven thirty every morning to make sure I'm up and ready to get my day started, then it's time to get my brother Kenneth and my sister A'Nayah. I make sure my sister has everything she needs to start her Google class meeting, her Chromebook, her charger, books, papers and pencils. Now it's nine o'clock and I have to leave my class and wake my brother up so he can get ready for his Google meetings. Kenneth is 14 and does not like school or the subjects at all.

Fast forward to 12:45pm, it's time for my lunch break. I go mess with my brother and sister because I know it can be stressful for them and it's always a good time to laugh no matter what. My siblings complain every day about how they don't understand what they are doing and about how they are not getting the help they need in school.

I talked to Joy Fiola, one of the assistant principals at Ponitz Career Technology Center to get her perspective. I asked her if COVID has changed her life work-wise.

"So in terms of work, COVID has actually made my life as a principal a little bit more hectic," she said. "So you're a student, so you know about Google classroom. So basically in Google classroom, instead of just having a schedule with seven or eight classes on it, I have a Google classroom full of the whole entire school, every class, every section."

"Okay, that was interesting because I didn't know you guys had one classroom and had everybody in every grade, every class," I replied. "So you can see when I turn stuff in, if I send to email to a teacher?"

"Correct," she said. :I like to see what's going on. So every time your teacher posts something or every time a student submits something or asks a question that sends an email to me. So it's about 500 emails a day. When you look at all the classrooms, just think about how many assignments you have that pop up. And I know it's a lot for you. It's like that for us, but times everyone in the building and you're trying to manage all of that."

I did this story because I feel like it was a very good topic to do. And I see it as something that everybody is dealing with right now all over the district, all over the world, basically. How do I like the way it is now? I know what I prefer is for it to go back to normal. If COVID was a person, I would have a full brawl with it and tell it to go back where it came from.

VaShe' White is a senior at Ponitz CTC High School. Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructors Joanne Viskup and Jeffrey Crowell. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Vectren Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Thursday night from 8 p.m to 10 p.m., as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.