Winters Class of 2022 sustain community through pandemic challenges

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As the Class of 2022 gets ready to embark on life’s next adventure, it’s important to reflect on the highlights and challenges these resilient, young adults faced in their last high school year.

As if teenaged years and school weren’t difficult enough to contend with, the Class of 2022 also had to endure a pandemic. Lives, curriculums and the ‘high school experience’ in general were irrevocably changed. For Wolfskill Career Readiness Academy lead teacher Greg Wade, redirecting course towards — relative — normalcy was a challenge unto itself.

“That was the main challenge, trying to re-educate kids that school is a normal part of life,” said Wade. “I had no idea how much socioemotional learning was actually going on, on campuses until kids were deprived of a year of that. Just sitting at home, allegedly participating on their computers. It was just devastating to the wellbeing of our kids. So, when they came back to school, they were not the way they’d been.”

Wade had a host of challenges to take on himself as he assumed the role as lead teacher at the CRA this year. Challenges abound, there were far more highlights for the CRA Class of 2022 to take pride in.

“We’ve had quite a few graduates this year. Eleven graduated at the winter ceremony and we’re slated for eight for the spring ceremony. We’re proud to have this many kids graduating the first year back from distanced learning which was an incredible challenge,” said Wade. “Also, every semester we have three stars. The Rising Star, Shining Star and Super Star. Six kids were awarded those titles during the year. The Rising Star shows academic brilliance for the first time, the Shining Star is for academic achievement and the Super Star is for academics and citizenship. We’re always proud of our students who earn these awards as well.”

The challenges were no different for the Winters High School Class of 2022. Dances and rallies were held outside, sports were interrupted on the whim of a positive COVID case, and so on. Through the adversity, however, the Warrior resolve was never more prominent.

“Young people, like the 16, 17 and 18 year olds are a lot tougher than I sometimes give them credit for,” said WHS counselor Marcella Heredia. “What stood out to me as a highlight of the year was just being able to see the Senior Capstone presentations. The last time we saw that was 2019, so it was great to go in there and see what kids have worked on and do their presentations.”

As ready as the students were to return to educational norms, so were the teachers and staff. Even with the abundance of difficulties presented by the pandemic, the students and staff persevered and need sunglasses as they reflect on the silver linings of the past year which are bright and abundant.

“It was nice just seeing kids do whatever they could to help others out, like starting new clubs or planning small events or sending nice thoughts and well-wishes to other students. All these things ring true to Winters being the town that it is and the people that we grow here,” said WHS principal John Barsotti. “When I think about this group, they’ve had to go through the shutting down and gradually reopening up of school and that does show a lot of resilience. They really did stick together and there’s been — especially from this senior group — a nice sense of community amongst them on our campus. That’s something they should be recognized for.”

Every generation has its trials and tribulations. For the Class of 2022, they endured a pandemic as sophomores and juniors, were able to preserve and sustain a sense of community, and came out on top their senior year. If anything, they serve as an example of how we all can get through the toughest times — together.

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