Math on Morgan

Veterans Memorial Center in downtown Tracy has been used for a multitude of things over the years — from National Guard training to boxing matches, and from basketball games between Tracy residents and pro football players to high-stakes section high school games. Today, thanks to COVID-19, it’s a classroom for eighth-graders. Photo / Per Peterson

School running smoothly at VMC for TAHS 8th-graders

By Per Peterson

“Can we go around the school again?”

Those were the words from the mouth of an eighth-grader on the last day of the first week of school during a class break that saw a group of young teenagers simply walking around the Veterans Memorial Center. To the kids, the downtown building isn’t where City Hall, council chambers or the police department is — it’s their school.

And while school administration and staff have spent months planning and readjusting schedules to accommodate state COVID-19 guidelines, to the kids, it seems, it’s business as usual (or school as usual, as it were).

“It is different, because you have one teacher playing a video on one side (of the gym), and another teacher that’s trying to read a book on the other side,” said paraprofessional Hilary Sanders. “If you’re in the back of the classroom … it can be interesting.”

And there are outside distractions as well — distractions that kids at the high school don’t have to deal with in their more controlled area.

“When you hear the train whistle blow at the same time the road construction is happening … and Mrs. Peterson is trying to teach you about algebra — it’s kind of interesting,” said Sanders.

But everyone, including school staff, is making the most of a very bizarre situation downtown. While at times it might get frustrating not being in their traditional setting, everyone for the most part has accepted a new normal and the new challenges that come with it.

“There’s times when it’s frustrating, but times when I love it, because it is something different,” said Sanders. “It’s interesting watching some of the kids you’d expect to be OK with it struggle with it, and some of them who struggle more education-wise adapt to the new situation better. They’re adapting to it. I’ve talked to some parents, and they’re all saying their kids aren’t complaining about it.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.